Direct Democracy

Partial or semi-direct democracy allows voters to retain some power in-between elections, which is in contrast with the paternalist / "strong man" view some populist politicians take that once elected they are empowered to do whatever they want (which is often what their donors want) until the next election. Many people have come to view representative democracies as the only form of democracy, forgetting the example of Athenian democracy and that technology has made possible its desirable aspects in larger communities.

There are several main features of semi-direct democracy (which is the system used in Switzerland and Liechtenstein as well as other jurisdictions):

  1. Revocation of the mandate or popular destitution is a procedure through which voters can remove an elected official from their office by direct vote, before their term has ended. Mandatory revocations, which are initiated when enough voters sign a petition, have a history that goes back to ancient democracy in Athens and appear in contemporary constitutions; also called recall.

  2. Plebiscite is a type of voting or of laws that are proposed. It can be mandatory, meaning that the government must do what the result says or consultative whereby the outcome of the vote should only help the government to make a final decision. Some definitions make no difference between this and referendum (below) considering them synonyms.

  3. Popular initiative is a method where a petition signed by a minimum number of registered voters may force a public vote. Generally they are used to propose the sanction or repeal of some law. (w)

  4. Referendum is a direct vote in which the entire electorate is invited to vote on a particular proposal; this may result in the adoption of a new law (w).

  5. Participatory Budgeting allows taxpayers to collectively decide how their money is spent on what they consider important. Toronto has implemented this in the budgeting process but it is not easy for most voters to engage with the City's implementation, nor is it binding for the Council to follow the public's desires.

More than 30 countries allow for referendum at national level (direct democracy navigator).

swiss Direct Democracy

Switzerland has long ago implemented semi-Direct Democracy at municipal, canton (provincial) as well as federal level. In this implementation, voters still elect a representative but retain power in-between elections. Swiss voters vote about 4 times per year. An implementation solely at municipal level should not see voting more than twice a year and would ideally work in conjunction with e-voting.

Because voters retain more power in-between elections, corruption is significantly reduced (twt), as it is more difficult (or more expensive) for a special interest group to induce a large group of people to accept a measure designed to benefit the "advocacy" group at the expense of the larger community than to bribe (or "lobby") their elected representative.

I learned about Murray Bookchin while canvassing and promoting semi-Direct Democracy; he had also advocated, long before I did, for the introduction of Direct Democracy at municipal level. It is remarkable that even Elon Musk sees Direct Democracy as the way to go but only for Mars (recode, bi, time, verge, vox). Needless to say, I see no reason why this can't happen here in Toronto.

As a councillor, I would poll my constituents using a system similar to my contact form in every decision I have to make after posting a summary on my page and would advocate to formalize this process in provincial legislation.