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The Proxy Party

A direct democracy work-around for representative political systems
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A work-around which allows a region to achieve Swiss-style direct democracy in a country that uses a representative system of politics. This approach will allow constituents to call a referendum at any time on any issue facing parliament, allowing them to override the will of their representative. The system would not require changes to the political system itself, and could potentially result in a gradual transition to a complete direct democracy, without the need for a sudden revolution and yet which parliament would be powerless to resist.

The core idea is that of a proxy candidate who is elected on a very simple manifesto: Upon winning the seat, they will immediately hold a local by-election and will surrender their parliamentary powers to whomever wins. However, these powers are surrendered to the new MP on the condition that their constituents can, subject to a referendum, force their hand on any issue, and that the MP agrees to resign if they lose the confidence of their constituents.

Voters would be persuaded to vote for the Proxy Party as it would gain them leverage over their regular MP, without them having to resort to voting for independent candidates or unpopular alternative parties.

Should the proxy party win control of a region, the idea might then gain popularity and spread to neighbouring regions in subsequent years. Gradually, the whole of parliament might come to be controlled by the Proxy Party. In practice, things would stay much the same as they already are; parliament would be composed of a mixture of red, blue, orange, green and grey MPs, debating things as they currently do, making decisions on our behalf. However, occasionally, when an issue comes about, as they sometimes do, in which the public do not see eye-to-eye with their representatives, they are now empowered to take a stand, rather than impotently protest.

With a majority of parliament controlled by the Proxy Party, the nation could finally force a referendum on a complete change of the political system, an act which would have had no chance of coming about otherwise with anything short of a full-scale revolution.

idris83, Feb 26 2011

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       I think this would not work, because: The Proxy Party Candidate is hereby elected to stand as the MP for this constituency. If he or she then resigns to call a by-election, then the Nasty Party candidate who wins the By-Election will then be Duly Elected to serve as the MP, and cannot be bound by any conditions imposed by the retiring incumbent.   

       On the other hand if the Proxy Party member does not really resign, but organises a private poll to see whether the Nasty Party or the Evil Party is most popular in his area, then she or he is not able to transfer any of his or her parliamentry powers or priveledges to the Nasty Party volunteer. The person from the Nasty Party will not be a MP, will not be permitted to enter the Palace of Westminster, will not have the right to vote in the House of Commons etc.   

       I.e. either a person is a MP or they are not. If they are, they can do whatever they like. If they are not, they can bog off.
pocmloc, Feb 26 2011
  

       I fear you may be right, pocmloc. I wonder if this could be engineered to work at all.   

       Perhaps the Proxy Party MP could remain in their seat in protest until all major local candidates put a "referendum and recall" pledge in their manifestos.   

       If the candidates do not agree to this, the Proxy Party MP could either call a by-election anyway and at least the constituency's discontent would have been registered in some manner, or alternatively they could remain in power in one of the following arrangements:   

       Pure Direct Democracy: The Proxy Party MP does nothing in parliament except defer to their constituents at every show of hands, and merely pass on messages from constituents during debates.   

       Defer to Most Popular Party: The Proxy Party MP toes the line of whichever party is most popular in the constituency.   

       Neither of these arrangements would be ideal of course as the Proxy Party MP would not be qualified to properly take part in debates or perform their other parliamentary obligations. However, as a short-term act of protest it may serve some purpose.   

       On the other hand, look at Sinn Fein who have been abstaining in the House of Commons for years to little effect... perhaps revolutions really are the only way to drastically reform politics...
idris83, Feb 26 2011
  

       Im for, not because I'm sure it would work, but because I'd like to see if it would.
bob, Feb 27 2011
  

       //it would gain them leverage over their regular MP//

I don't see how it would give them any more leverage than they have now (i.e. not much). The Proxy Party's candidates' conditions for stepping down and handing over their seat are not only legally unenforceable but are totally invalidated by the holding of a by-election.

I would have thought that they'd be much better off standing on a platform of having no policies whatever and committing to holding a referendum before voting on major pieces of legislation for the full term of the parliament.

In fact, as an experiment in democracy, I can see people voting for this quite enthusiastically. Just choose a constituency with a particularly unpopular local MP (a Lib Dem might be a particularly good target in this context, given the current issues over manifesto policies versus what they are actually implementing in government) and put up your first candidate at the next election.
DrBob, Feb 28 2011
  


 

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