Re-Invent Democracy International
St. Gallen, Switzerland
The World's First Large Scale Consensus-
Where voters can find common ground
Set common transpartisan legislative agendas
Build online voting blocs, political parties, and electoral coalitions
Decide who runs for office, who gets elected, and what laws are passed.
A platform blending direct democracy with representative democracy
As Swiss voters have been doing for hundreds of years.
Swiss citizens blend direct democracy with representative democracy by voting to:
Initiatives and referenda launched and approved by Swiss citizens must be enacted into law because the Swiss federal constitution requires elected representaties to honor the will of the people as expressed in these votes. Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation, Title 4.
Voters accessing the world's first large scale consensus-building platform will be able to join forces online to collectively mandate the enactment of legislative agendas comprised of virtually unlimited numbers of laws that are logically and coherently interconnected -- unlike typical legislative enactments of separate laws that are often poorly coordinated and even contradictory.
"As soon as any man says of the affairs of the State
'What does it matter to me?' the State may be given up for lost."
Swiss-born philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The Social Contract, 1762.
Switzerland's blended decentralized democracy empowers Swiss citizens at the grassroots to exert more influence over elections and legislation than citizens of purely representative democracies.
Switzerland advocates decentralized forms of democracy abroad via its Democratisation, Decentralization and Local Governance Network (DDLGN).
In contrast to Switzerland, lack of democratically accountable direct democracy in other countries enabling citizens to mandate legislation may be one of the reasons why so many people are dissatisfied with their governments.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, government "is the least trusted institution globally ... 2015 witnessed a 'plunge of trust in government due to stalemate and perceived incapacity.'"
Lack of trust in government is particularly evident in the U.S.
"Nine in 10 Americans lack confidence in the country's political system ... there are few partisan differences in the public's lack of faith in the political parties, the nomination process, and the branches of government." AP-NORC.
The roots of such attitudes have been documented by academic research indicating Americans exert less influence over Congressional legislation than organized special interests. Hacker and Pierson.
And even though a majority of Americans have long wanted to see most members of Congress replaced, the majority of incumbents remain in office term after term.
Among the many reasons are election laws and practices put in place by the two major U.S. political parties -- especially gerrymandering laws that redraw the boundaries of election districts to ensure enough party voters are in the districts to enable major party candidates to win elections.
Other reasons include virtually unrestrained campaign financing of incumbents' electoral campaigns by special interests, systematic efforts by elected representatives and appointed election officials in certain states to suppress votes, and official use of electronic vote tallying software that is susceptible to falsification of tallies.
Unsurprisingly, a majority of Americans concluded many years ago that U.S. elections are "rigged". (See Rasmussen, "68% Think Election Rules Rigged for Incumbents.")
Various claims that the results of the 2016 presidential election might have been falsified and "hacked" are supported by reputable experts and non-profits.
Switzerland, with its blend of direct democracy and representative democracy, is a peaceful nation. It has never attacked or invaded another country, and actively assists other nations in their peace-making initiatives and conflict resolution efforts.
Its government is constitutionally required to "assist in alleviation of need and poverty in the world and promote respect for human rights and democracy, [and] the peaceful co-existence of peoples."
Switzerland is also the birthplace and headquarters of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), which was founded in 1863 by a Swiss citizen and is maintained largely by Swiss volunteers. Switzerland's political neutrality and lack of colonial past facilitates the accomplishment of ICRC's humanitarian missions around the world.
Decline of Democracies Worldwide
Despite the international efforts of Switzerland and many countries and organizations around the world to build and strengthen democracy, democratic governing institutions are in decline, as are the freedoms they convey.
In 2015 alone, 72 countries became less democratic, as reported in The Guardian View on Democracy.
According to the 2015 Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit,
"The number of 'full democracies' is low, at only 20 countries, comprising only 8.9% of the world population. 59 countries are rated as 'flawed democracies', comprising 39.5% of the world population. Of the remaining 88 countries . . . 51 are 'authoritarian', comprising 34.1% of the world population; and 37 are considered to be 'hybrid regimes', comprising 17.5% of the world population."
Global Spread of Political Violence
Parallel to the decline of democracies around the world is the global spread of social and political unrest, and political violence.
According to the 2015 Global Peace Index of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), there has been an historic decline in world peace during the past decade, with only 10 countries in the world that are free of conflict.
The total number of conflicts rose sharply from 31 in 2010 to 40 in 2014. Terrorism is at an all time high, with all but two regions recording an increase over the past decade. Battle deaths from conflicts are at a 25 year high.
Key factors in these developments are governance failures on the part of democratically unaccountable governments. According to the IEP, research conducted by the World Bank and others indicates that "the risk of conflict is higher in countries where the government tends to infringe on the fundamental rights of its citizens." They are countries deficient in the rule of law, political rights and civil liberties, and honest elections.
These findings lend credibility to research identifying causal links between dysfunctional and democratically unaccountable governments, on the one hand, and indicators of widespread voter distrust of governments and electoral and legislative processes, including:
Among the primary causes of escalating political conflicts and political violence are "democratic deficits" at the nation-state level resulting from the lack of effective consensus building and conflict resolution mechanisms. These deficits are reflected, in particular, in the political polarization that often results from traditional political parties and special interests that tend more towards creating internal and external conflicts than resolving them.
Throughout history and the modern era, such parties and special interests have been found to display inherent tendencies to:
Interactive Voter Choice System
(U.S. Patent No. 7,953,628)
Re-Invent Democracy International's Global Social Network for Voters will enable voters to remove these "democratic deficits" and impediments to the exercise of popular sovereignty around the world -- particularly those created by political parties and special interests.
The network is being built around a unique 21st century democracy-building technology that empowers voters to create direct democracies online and blend them with representative democracies: the Interactive Voter Choice System.
It enables voters to build online voter-controlled political parties, voting blocs and electoral coalitions (BPCs) around common legislative agendas which can grow large enough to win elections.
Without changing laws, voters can insert their own forms of direct democracy into electoral and legislative processes of representative democracies to solve problems, crises and conflicts current governments are failing to resolve.
These problems, crises and conflicts include threats to the planet's sustainability and humanity's survivability posed by extreme climate disruption and the global spread of political violence.
Powerful governments are not only failing to devise solutions to overcome these dire threats, but are making them worse and letting others make them worse.
As a reflection of extreme climate disruption, the NASA Perennial Sea Ice Age visualization of the age of Arctic sea ice below shows how sea ice has been growing and shrinking, spinning, melting in place and drifting out of the Arctic for the past three decades.
Growing risks to survivability are reported in research conducted by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) showing that in 2015 alone, 27.8 million people in 127 countries were displaced by conflicts, violence and disasters.
The Interactive Voter Choice System technology enables voters everywhere to overcome the threats to their well-being, the planet's sustainability and humanity's survival by eradicating the root causes of these threats: the "democratic deficits" that prevent voters from controlling their governments.
This technology enables voters everywhere to join forces to:
Political and Economic Inequality
In addition to expressing political discontent, voters around the world are also expressing growing opposition to increasing economic inequality.
Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, on the basis of the Global Wealth Report 2015 published by the Swiss bank Credit Suisse.
"Nearly three-quarters of the world's adults own under $10,000 in wealth. This 71 percent of the world holds only 3 percent of global wealth. The world's wealthiest individuals, those owning over $100,000 in assets, total only 8.1 percent of the global population but own 84.6 percent of global wealth."
Global Adult Population and Share of Total wealth by Wealth Group, 2015.
Growing worldwide disparities in wealth and political power, coupled with dysfunctional and democratically unaccountable governments, are raising concerns that social unrest and volatility might create unmanageable political turmoil in the near future, similar to implosions that have occurred in previous eras.
One mathematician has statistically tracked 40 factors in society such as "wealth inequality, stagnating well-being, growing political fragmentation and governmental dysfunction" and fears that some kind of societal "collapse" might occur within a decade.
His findings dovetail with those of other analysts who fear that in 2016 the "World Passed The Tipping Point Into A Perilous New Era":
The fearful and fearsome reaction against growing inequality, social dislocation and loss of identity in the midst of vast wealth creation, unprecedented mobility and ubiquitous connectivity, is a mutiny, really, against globalization so audacious and technological change so rapid that it can barely be absorbed by our incremental nature. In this accelerated era," I continued, "future shock can feel like repeated blows in the living present to individuals, families and communities alike."
Indeed, increasing numbers of voters around the world are taking unprecedented steps to register their opposition to growing inequality and democratically unaccountable lawmakers and governments. One way is by voting in decisive numbers in anti-establishment upset elections. They are also launching massive protests and confrontations; many are engaging in extra-legal actions.
Unfortunately, electoral upsets - such as the Brexit vote and the election of business tycoon Donald Trump as U.S. president - are unlikely to quell widespread voter opposition to their governments if so many voters continue to be prevented from determining what laws are enacted.
In fact, these electoral upsets are likely to lead to more upsets, protests, confrontations and extra-legal actions unless voters can permanently obtain control of political parties, special interests, and the legislation that results from electoral and legislative processes.
Yet most voters simply do not have any effective ways to change the status quo -- especially in the U.S. where the political system is universally condemned as "broken", but no systemic "fixes" exist.
For example, the composition of the U.S. Congress appears to be virtually unchangeable because upwards of 85% of the seats are considered "safe" seats, due to the fact they have been gerrymandered to prevent incumbents from being defeated. The political parties and representatives occupying those seats, who are re-elected term after term, decade after decade, lack motivation to make changes in existing laws that could oust them from office.
The Technological Re-Invention of Democracy
Given the lack of internal levers by which voters can reform failed and failing democracies, Re-Invent Democracy International's Global Social Network for Voters and the Interactive Voter Choice System provide a universal, near-term technological solution by which voters can autonomously re-invent democratically unaccountable governments.
This 21st century web-based technology, which enables voters to blend direct and representative forms of democracy, can be implemented by citizens and voters autonomously online without changing existing laws.
The technology will enable large numbers of well-informed, consensus-building citizens to replace the small numbers of conflict-producing, politically polarizing political parties and lawmakers that typically ignore voters' priorities in favor of their own preferences -- and those of special interests that finance their electoral campaigns.
It is the next step in the technological evolution of government "by and for the people". Voluminous research has demonstrated unequivocally that large numbers of people make better decisions than small numbers of people, especially in large complex systems such as governments.
The Global Social Network for Voters -- the world's first large scale consensus-building and conflict resolution platform -- empowers virtually unlimited numbers of citizens to make better decisions and formulate better laws than the small numbers of lawmakers who far too often make ill-conceived decisions and enact laws voters oppose.