Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

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Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby gdh82 » Fri May 07, 2010 1:31 pm

Just as opinion polls had suggested yesterday's UK General Election ended in a hung parliament. I've heard it said that this is the best outcome if you want to move forward the prospect of voting reform and proportional representation ? Apparently the UK and Greece are the only countries in Europe, who still operate a first-past-the-past system?

I'd be interested to hear what you think of your voting system.....
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby Rodolfo » Fri May 07, 2010 6:02 pm

Basically, what you have been hearing until now is that democracy is unfair and damaged because of this 2 parties system. And what you will start to hear very soon is that democracy is unfair and damaged because of this little party having too much power with so little representation.
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby Freshmaker » Fri May 07, 2010 6:26 pm

What Rodolfo said. :)
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby jbounias » Fri May 07, 2010 9:23 pm

There are several quite important factors
1) Number of seats
2)Terrestrial distribution of seats/ region and prefecture or county
3)number of votes per seat
4)percentage to be able to govern aka strong or weak or special or qualified majority
5)Correspondence with the local government seats and their terrestrial distibution
6)density of population and distribution of seats
7)Number of parties
8)How the government (separate than the parliament) is formed (it could be staffed by non elected)
9)Constitutional and real actual powers of the prime minister vs rthe president if it exists
10)confederate or single uniform or decentralized state

but the main factor that really overcomes everything and is the cause of all evil is the
"POLITICAL PARTIES' internal governing regulation and system''
In all European democratic counties their parties function under totally nondemocratic rules and statutes
they are ruled like small companies with political discipline towards their leader

Second worst thing is that this undemocratic party leader (in terms of managing and leading the party and not in terms of ideas)
is the same with the PM if he wins... so the deputies obey the PM instead of serving the people.....

I bet nobody has ever been told that before but that is a very hard truth
There is no constitutional principle in terms of how to form and run a party neither in terms of ideas or ethics
the only constitutional rules that exist are those of its respect towards the electoral ''democratic'' procedure and about its financing (the visible one only)

So we all vote in a very democratic manner but non democratic operating parties and deputies
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby Tripod » Sat May 08, 2010 7:06 am

jbounias wrote:...but the main factor that really overcomes everything and is the cause of all evil is the
"POLITICAL PARTIES' internal governing regulation and system''


I'd say it's even simpler than that: The cause of all evil in politics is that we have career politicians. Their own career is naturally more important to them then the public good. And so they don't make the tough decisions that would be necessary but are unpopular because it endagers their re-election. The first time I heard that was this January when the former Comptroller General of the United States was on the Daily Show. Here's the interview, skip to about 3:30 to hear what he has to say about career politicians:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-j ... vid-walker

Which leads me to believe that the best "real democracy" discovered so far is the Athenian democracy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy

"Selection by lottery was the standard means as it was regarded as the more democratic: elections would favour those who were rich, noble, eloquent and well-known, while allotment spread the work of administration throughout the whole citizen body, engaging them in the crucial democratic experience of, to use Aristotle's words, "ruling and being ruled in turn". The allotment of an individual was based on citizenship rather than merit or any form of personal popularity which could be bought. Allotment therefore was seen as a means to prevent the corrupt purchase of votes and it gave citizens a unique form of political equality as all had an equal chance of obtaining government office."
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby gdh82 » Sat May 08, 2010 8:35 am

Thanks for the replies - some very interesting posts here. This began as a thread about voting systems and FPTP v PR but is actually more interesting now.

Basically, what you have been hearing until now is that democracy is unfair and damaged because of this 2 parties system. And what you will start to hear very soon is that democracy is unfair and damaged because of this little party having too much power with so little representation
.

Agree that all systems have their flaws but still interested to hear more about proportional representation. Supporters claim it encourages less tribalist and adversarial politics given parties are forced to share power? How about turn-out too? (Typically 60% in the UK). Sometimes voting in a FPTP system, can seem a wasted vote if you're not voting for the big two parties. So does PR counter this aspect of voter apathy?

Tripod wrote:
jbounias wrote:...but the main factor that really overcomes everything and is the cause of all evil is the
"POLITICAL PARTIES' internal governing regulation and system''


I'd say it's even simpler than that: The cause of all evil in politics is that we have career politicians. Their own career is naturally more important to them then the public good.


Good points about problems with internal workings of parties and politicians serving themselves rather than the people. Think the expenses scandal over here is a perfect example of that. Trust in politicians has definately been at an all time low for some time.

Yet we have to do so given our system is based on electing our political rulers. The alternative Athenian democracy sounds very interesting and much like 'power to the people'!

It remains a unique and intriguing experiment in direct democracy where the people do not elect representatives to vote on their behalf but vote on legislation and executive bills in their own right.


I wonder if this could ever happen again in modern society?
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby jbounias » Sat May 08, 2010 2:47 pm

Sorry to be again the bitching guy but listen:

Athenian democracy and the splendid philosophies of Aristotelis really are the base of all political thinking
However you forgot that he also speaked about ''slaves'' and ''citizens''... meaning all the everyday jobs were carried by slaves in order for the citizens to have time to occupy themselves with politics.
Every citizen though spent some phase before his citizenship working like everybody else and that time was called ''service''
(the greek term is ''thetia'' and today means military service)

Ok so Aristotelis was in favor for slavery? Just imagine a world where machines or robots work as slaves or servants and all the others are mixed in politics and in the managing of the common good... Yeah that is the real 1000 light years ahead brilliant Aristotelis.

Now another fact is that the ancient greek democracy is considered as ''DIRECT democracy'' cause everybody was voting immediately for everything.... this equals to have a referendum for every decision a state makes.
In our mass societies this is out of the question (even the local governmental system can not achieve it)
Now again comes the unsurpassed brilliancy of Aristotelis... just thing of the internet as a mean for instant and mass voting and here you have it ''instant and immediate democracy'' like it should be.
And that is why today we talk about e-government and e-democracy .they are explained above.
Offcourse i can point you to their real problems as decision making systems but i want to chew on these terms and dont need to spoil them.
Conlusion ancient greek democracy by Aristotelis could be rediscovered with today's' technology
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby Robert » Sun May 09, 2010 10:54 am

Athenian direct democracy involved citizens (so men, not women, and no slaves) turning up to debate and vote whenever they like. By the way jbounias, Swizterland still replicates this today. They have a referendum on just about every major decision. Check it out.

Wonderful.

However, outside Athens and Switzerland no-one these days has time for this shit. We have enough to do, and only care about politics when something goes wrong. Ideally we want to check in every 4-5 years and not be bothered with this. Just give us stability and let us get on with it.

This is why we have career politicians to run things for us.

What is a career politician? Simply, someone who gives up their regular job and devotes all their time to politics. Should they do this unpaid? Should we have nations run by part-timers?

I get incredibly frustrated when I see how - for example - football players and actors are worshipped and politicians hated. It's OK to be a professional footballer or actor but not a professional politician? If you can kick a ball you're a superstar but if you spent 20 years in education, speak 4 languages, and spend your evenings walking the streets in the rain, knocking on doors to hear people's problems - all for 10% of the footballer's money - you're a scumbag? We forgive sportsmen and actors for snorting coke and sleeping around but if a politician watches a pornographic movie we want them crucified.

This is morally bankrupt.

Alex, if you think you could do better than these career politicians, I suggest you enter politics. I have known many people in politics and none of them entered it to make money. They all - without exception - went into it because they wanted to make the world a better place and serve the public. Because they were passionate about something they believed in. I even think this is true of Nick Griffin.

If you are not prepared to enter into politics and do this work yourself, perhaps give a break to the people who do, because without them we'd be back in the Feudal system.
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby jbounias » Sun May 09, 2010 5:07 pm

I didnt know about swiss but note that they have a confederational system and its not the same direct democracy.
I also hope that you understand that you can not declare democracy only for those you desire (there can not be an exclusion of women or the term of slavery) but hey there is no perfect world.

I also want to bring to your attention a tactic used in france. There they have the ultra accredited ENAP (its their national school of public administration ,similar to the greek one i am in) So they claim that if you can not be a politician or have a national post if you havent at least have some sort of career working in the public sector. And together with the public sector experience you really need to graduate from EPAN for the highest of political government positions.
This is my idea of a professional politician and is totally the opposite of the traditional politicians, i can not imagine how a guy who has not even a glimpse of a job in both the private and the public sector dares to mess with such a highly complicated system.
This is also a problem cause we have carrer politicians instead of experienced and professional (in the public affairs and in the public administration) people.

I will also come back to give you my opinion for the high paid jobs of stars and the use of them.
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby Tripod » Mon May 10, 2010 8:09 am

The Swiss have the normal form of government, though they also have referendums. While in theory that's a good idea, in practice you get people to vote on things they don't understand. Their last referendum was about Minarets and look how well that went.

Obviously, the Athenian Democracy is an ideal that just wouldn't work in our modern society. Most of us couldn't just leave their jobs for a year and a year just isn't enough to learn about how politics work. Nonetheless, it easily shows the drawbacks of our modern form of democracy.

@Robert: I wasn't trying to say that all politicians are corrupt and only in it for the money. But a career in politics has obvious drawbacks which are detrimental to the job we as the people want them to perform. I know from the US that the two house of congress have an incumbency rate of 95%. Well, I cannot imagine the people are actually happy with 95% of their representatives.

Here's a wikipedia entry on the problem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressio ... ted_States

So even forgetting the problem of financing every campaign with money from coroprations, just look at the problem of "pork barrel spending". Every representative will try to get as much money as he can for his constituency no matter how much better that money would be spent elsewhere. And of course nobody is really willing to vote for a law which serves a greater good but demands higher taxes.

I admit the problem is not confined to politicians, but to all of us, the people, the voters, we have become too complacent, we demand too much, we apparently don't care about future generations. A government which acts in the best interests of the country, not just today but also its future, would never allow a budget deficit. But... well, look at real life. To get those votes for your party - and sadly the loyalties of politicians lie with themselves first, the party second and only then the people - you write cheques, even though you cannot afford to.

If I went into politics I'd probably campaign along the lines of raising taxes substantially, especially for corporations and people making over 100,000 Euros/Pounds and cutting down on spending to balance the budget. Well, how many votes do you think I'll get? My guess would be: not a single one.
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby Semtex » Mon May 10, 2010 10:42 am

God knows how you can compare footballers and actors to politicians. Making plans for other people, and spending THEIR money is something that requires dedication. Dedication is the only comparison maybe. But footballers and actors only do their job for the money and the adoration. Spending money on the olympics when there is a housing shortage. Adoration is maybe another comparison then. And what about the expenses and backhanders that they take? Ok so making money is another comparison...

Career politicians know a lot about their job but, usually, fuck all about everyone else's. So when they make laws affecting other people can we trust them to know what they are doing?

Career politicians make moves that are good for THEIR careers. Not everyone else's. If you want someone who is interested in furthering his own career at the expense of the nation's health then fair enough. I suppose they've earnt it by all those years of knocking on doors in the pouring rain...

Career politicians can only represent those that pay their wages, not the electorate. As Jbounis says the fundamentally undemocratic nature of political parties renders the democratic system that elects them to power completely null and void. Hitler was elected fairly. (though to give him his due he wasn't a career politician!).

Footballers and actors are in it for themselves. If you are happy for politicians to be likewise then you've got to accept some of the blame for how badly this country is run, along with everyone else who votes in these sham elections.

Yes, people should be paid, and paid well for doing this work. But how about making it a vocation? Doing work that is vital to the national interest is reward in itself but getting a good wage for it is no shame.

Until we get a system that forces politicians to act honestly and for the good of the nation (ie some sort of accountability) we will always have dishonest politicians.
But then we will always have weak governments, not the strong, stable governments that people so desperately crave.

So it is my understanding that people are more than happy to hand over all their power, so that they have the right to moan for the next 5 years.

Leaving me to continue as a career anarchist.
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby Rodolfo » Mon May 10, 2010 2:35 pm

I agree with Haydn!

I am very surprised of the kind of politics that Robert had the luck to meet. Those that I know, with very little exception, are not people who give all for the community, but dumb leader-ass-lickers who would hardly survive in the real world. And it is outrageous comparing their wages with those so superior of the footballers instead of comparing with those so very inferior of the normal citizens they usually f***. All they care about is keeping their job -and those of their gang- safe. That is the smell I get when I think of career politicians.

In the end I am beginning to think that suffrage is overrated. Guarantee me 100% of every other right and liberty, and keep my vote. Wherever I would cast it, it would be a waste anyway.
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Re: Can the UK learn from other European Democracies?

Postby Semtex » Mon May 10, 2010 9:30 pm

I love that sentence (not the first one the last one!) Keep me safe, keep me fairly free and don't waste my time with a vote... trouble is the vote wields some power... but we hand it over far too easily. The whole system must surely stink if Myself and Rodolfo, from opposite ends of the political spectrum, agree so wholeheartedly... which gives me hope that consensus politics may actually work.

And a note about the good guys who go into politics... they do exist but they get corrupted by the corrupt system... the career politicians get their hands on them and so derange their original dreams that they become simply another one of 'them'. And like you said to Tripod 'if you don't like it do it yourself' but then Tripod would get corrupted too... and I would say he looks one of the most decent stand-up guys around (How did you get off of that samurai sword charge again mate...))

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