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Christoph Haas WS 2011/12
IS THE PIRATENPARTEI LIQUID DEMOCRACY PROPOSAL FIT
Andrea Cangialosi firstname.lastname@example.org B.A. Philosophie (5. Semester) Università degli Studi di Palermo – Italien
Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 3 1. The concepts of Liquid Democracy............................................................................. 5 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 2. Last millennia of democracies.............................................................................. 5 The “golden mean” of democracy ........................................................................ 6 Modern-contemporary chronological account ..................................................... 7 DD in six features................................................................................................. 9 LD: One idea, different (software) versions....................................................... 11
German and Swedish political systems outline ......................................................... 15 2.1 The Swedish case (E-Democracy, grassroots parties, new issues invest politics,
worldwide phenomena) ................................................................................................. 16 2.2 The German case (DD, State parliament breach, internal debates, law
acknowledgment) .......................................................................................................... 18 2.3 3. LD cases comparison ......................................................................................... 19
Prospects of German LD ........................................................................................... 19
Results ............................................................................................................................... 21 Bibliography ..................................................................................................................... 22
INDEX OF TABLES
DD DE LD PP PV
Delegative democracy Demoex Liquid democracy PiratenPartei Proxy voting
Software comparison (LD criteria) ............... 13 German and Swedish in comparison ........... 16 DE and other Swedish grassroot parties ...... 17 PP and DE in comparison (LD cases) ........... 19
«Every man is a sharer [...] and feels that he is a participator in the government of affairs, not merely at an election one day in the year, but every day»1 Thomas Jefferson
Little is known about Liquid Democracy, yet a consistent work around the world has already been done, both theoretical and practical, on many sorts of analogue projects. An increasing spirit of disappointment and critical debate has arisen in Europe, the very heart of democracy2. Liquid Democracy, with the help of a fairly new concept of participation, the so called “transitive proxy” or “delegable proxy” voting, claims to be a solution; or if not so, to be at least an improvement.
In between the two distant position of basic and representative democracy, there's a span of opportunities. Liquid Democracy is one of the ways to explore it, “liquidifying” the rigidity of these kinds of model.
«Delegative democracy is a new paradigm for a democratic organization which emphasizes individually chosen vote transfers (delegation) over mass election. Delegative democracy combines the best elements of direct and representative democracy by replacing artificially imposed representation structures with an adaptive structure founded on real personal and group trust relationships. Delegative democracy empowers individuals and encourages widespread direct participation in a democratic organization, without unduly burdening or disenfranchising those members who, for lack of time, interest, or knowledge would prefer to take a more passive role».3
Though, even if this general definition of what is a delegative democracy (from now on just “DD”) by Brian Ford was accepted, there would still be different peculiar variants to regard. What also may be confusing is the plenty of names that refer to them: “Direct par-
Jefferson, Thomas, Letter to Samuel Kercheval, in: Lipscomb, Andrew A. / Bergh, Albert E. (Ed.), The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Washington 1905, Volume 13, P. 422 (Italics by A.C.). 2 In consequence of the Spanish “Movimiento 15-M” (15th May 2011 movement), many versions of the same sort of questioning groups focusing nowadays democracy appeared in other Countries: right after the national “¡Democracia real YA!” (also as “DRY”, Real democracy NOW), e.g., “Echte Demokratie, JETZT!” in Germany. They consist of local assemblies spread into territories, in contact with each other. More is to be found in the research paper Holberg, Sara, The Spanish Revolution: A study on the 15-M movement in Spain, Uppsala University 2012, PP. 12 ff., http://bit.ly/ypOMd2, (03.03.2012). 3 Ford , Bryan, Delegative Democracy, Yale University 2002, P. 1, http://bit.ly/GBRvhm, (03.03.2012).
liamentarism”, “Augmented democracy” and Liquid democracy (from now on just “LD”), for example. Using DD I’ll refer to the general theory, meanwhile with LD I’ll stress on its application, through the use of Internet and special software designs.4 It might also appear puzzling the variety of voting mechanisms: single-transferable-vote, proportional voting, delegate cascade or proxy voting (from now on just “PV”). For the sake of the discussion, only the last one will be characterized. PV has principally two forms: delegable voting and delegated voting, which are procedures for the delegation to another member of a voting body of that member's power to vote in his absence, and/or for the selection of additional representatives, as in the case with transitive proxies. Indeed, in a delegated voting framework, the proxy can be transitive and the transfer recursive. Put simply, the vote can be further delegated to the proxy's proxy, and so on.
An early proposal of delegate voting was that of Lewis Carroll in a paper dated 1884. But there are almost no other historical accounts till the second half of 21st century. Internet voting has been used by the Swedish local political party Demoex, who won its first seat in the city council of Vallentuna in 2002.5 Is this idea's seed, planted long ago, finally becoming reality? Is Sweden a special case or is it going to be possible for other countries, for example Germany, to have a working model of LD? Is the developed software feasible to accomplish what political parties and organization want from them? Due to formal limitations, I'll be very specific in regard of study cases, giving just some references about the bigger political frame where they take place. It’s also going to be required to leave out many alternative versions or additional features of theories found, which I will likewise mention when possible through footnotes and bibliographic references.
It’s a distinction made without referring to any source or literature, though it’s anyhow necessary and useful to disambiguate. The name Liquid Democracy has also been used by the Berlin’s homonymous association that promotes and develops these ideas. 5 There still are other events strictly intertwined with the history of these ideas that are going to be analyzed with more attention introducing the first part of this work.
In the first part of this work I will try to skim through the scarce material that exists about the topic6. Doing so, I will sketch a chronology of democracy as we knew it and as it’s lately changing. I’ll try to summarize in a comparative table the main features of LD, as well as problems, through different software solutions (and their characteristics, too). In the second one, I'll give a brief overview about the German and Swedish political systems, in order to analyze in a comparison the Swedish Demoex (from now on just “DE”) with the German case of PiratenPartei, reusing the criteria previously found. So another table will be sketched. Then, in the third part, I'll attempt to forecast, as possible, the future developments of this young party to finally argue – in regard of those chosen criteria – that the Piraten's proposal LiqdFeedback it's not yet fit to be politically well established (perhaps not even inside the party itself). This is basically due to inner unresolved issues and also a lack of reach over the so called not-yet-alphabetized internet population and, leaving out the new generations, the remaining public opinion.
1. THE CONCEPTS OF LIQUID DEMOCRACY 1.1 LAST MILLENNIA OF DEMOCRACIES
Looking back at the past, using again the words of Ford, I’ll bluntly state that direct democracy is not only impractical, but that could also be deprecable.
«The basic principle of direct democracy is that, to ensure maximum equality and fairness, all members of an organization should ideally take part directly in making all important decisions. Unfortunately, direct democracy in its pure form only works in small and highly cohesive groups. […] In larger or more widely distributed organizations, let alone governments, pure direct democracy is simply infeasible. Furthermore, even if pure direct democracy was feasible, it is not clear that it would be desirable. Any real human community shows a wide variance in knowledge, interests, and abilities among its members, and if the influence of each member is forced to be exactly equal, then the effective intelligence and wisdom of the collective may be not better than the average […] ». (Ford 2002: 1)
This work relies mostly on English and German working paper, journals and Internet sources, since there is no different literature yet. One obvious reason of this is the very youth of these ideas and projects, another one is the environment in which the discussion itself has taken place. That is strictly related to this trend: media and tools used are so blogs, forums, wikis and so on. Also another reason will be advanced in the conclusive part.
This very reason is one the ones Aristotle used to show how democracy is indeed a pejorative degree, a “perverted regime”, derived by a constitutional government – whose name it's not explicitly mentioned – whilst, for example, there's a combination of small property qualification for the poor and a high one for the rich.7 The egalitarian constraint abolishes the natural differentiation between members' attitude to govern.
«For these reasons and others, large-scale democracy in the modern world always involves some form of representative structure, in which a relatively small number of leaders are elected by the membership at large to make decisions on their behalf. […] Regardless of specific structure, representative democratic systems are invariably built around the premise that in a given election, voters are expected to choose between a small number of candidates or parties for a given position or representative body, with large representative bodies usually being divided into pre-defined districts or constituencies to which voters are pre-assigned.» (Ford 2002: 2)
The insufficiency of a pure representative paradigm it's clearly already been shown: « [...] a certain degree of direct democracy is often grafted onto otherwise representative systems by way of popular initiatives, referenda, and recalls, allowing voters to participate in certain important decisions directly while leaving the vast majority of the day-to-day decisions to the elected representatives». (Ford 2002: 2)
1.2 THE “GOLDEN MEAN” OF DEMOCRACY
Using the lexicon of ancient philosophers, it could be said that between the two extremes of pure direct and pure representative, delegative democracy is the golden mean:
«DD is about truly bringing power to the people without overloading those who do not want to wallow in the details». (Ford 2002: 3)
In a way, DD it’s not something new: it’s a mixture of components and elements of already existing democracies.
Such name was not given, letting us assume that it was the title itself as well as the main topic of the so called “Politics” book. Politeia (πολιτεία) is an Ancient Greek word with no single English translation. Derived from the word polis ("city-state"), it is an important term in Ancient Greek political thought, especially that of Plato and Aristotle. In the works of these philosophers, the principal meaning of politeia appears to be: "how a polis is run; constitution". A politeia differs from modern written constitutions in two respects: first, not all Greek states put their laws in writing; more importantly, the Greeks did not normally distinguish between ordinary and constitutional legislation. If a certain body had the power to change the laws, it had the power to change the laws controlling its own power and membership – even to abolish itself and set up a new governing body.
«DD accepts the premise that some form of representation is needed to minimize the burden on voters who are uninterested in or incapable of taking an active and well-informed role in the organization, but it challenges the basic premise that the number of such representatives must be kept small and relatively fixed, and that the number of candidates (or parties) a given voter may choose from for a given position must similarly be kept small […]. Instead, DD adopts the alternative premise that voters should have the widest possible direct choice of representatives, and that they should be enabled and encouraged to build personal relationships with their representatives, ideally involving some level of trust and rapport.» (Ford 2002: 3)
The choice of delegation will be a sort of “proximity search” of the one who’s closest, in regard of values, cultural or religious identity, geographic locality (also economic situation or other common interests, etc.). To be able to find this matching person, a voter’s choice of delegate should be as broad and unrestricted as possible (preferring trust relationship, mutual identification rather than propaganda campaign). If a member would instead be willing to participate actively (in opposition to “passively” delegate) she could become a delegate herself: each candidate doesn’t compete with the others in a win/lose game configuration. Instead, the “voting strength” of each delegate commands in subsequent deliberation varies in proportion to the number of votes received. Obviously this fundamental paradigm shift raises many theoretical and practical issues. For example: how could a body of delegates fit in a room and carry out a conventional deliberative process, when it’s too numerous? This multitude could also complicate the choice process first, and then the ballot: for ex., how many names could be placed in a list? As for any real democracy, these problems regarding DD should by bypassed and, or faced fitting a particular organization and specific cultural requirements. Every delegative democracy has to be designed and adapted in peculiar ways.
1.3 MODERN-CONTEMPORARY CHRONOLOGICAL ACCOUNT
As anticipated already, these ideas didn’t always remain in the field of theories. There are some episodes in history that may count as examples of a DD. In the 18th century, the internal policies of the Paris Commune are seen as the real-world precursor to the more formalized notions of modern delegative democracy. Also early soviets – Russian word for council – had one, during the 1905 Russian revolution, before a Bolshevik majority
was reached. After that, DD was gradually eroded in favor of more representational forms of governance. As for precursor theories of the delegative voting, an ancestor is the “single transferable vote” of the 19th century short pamphlet by Lewis Carroll: “The Principles of Parliamentary Representation” (1884). Traces of DD reappear in the theoretical discussion with another mathematician, Gordon Tullock.
«In the late 1960’s, as people began to realize the power that computers would eventually have to reshape society, the academic literature on these ideas leapt forward. In 1967, Gordon Tullock devoted the last chapter of “Toward a Mathematics of Politics” to proportional representation […] each representative has voting power equal to the number of votes he receives. […] The direct-voting-option principle […] appears in James C. Miller III’s 1969 article, “A Program for Direct and Proxy Voting in the Legislative Process”. Miller, too, is inspired by the promise of technology».8
So, apart from the creative genius of Charles L. Dodgson (the real name behind the pseudonym Carroll), starting from Tullock to our century, the recent proposals were made, among others, by a computer scientist expert, Bryan Ford, and from a software engineer, Michael Allan.9 Except for the two revolutionary contexts – the French and the Russian ones –, the return of these concepts is due to a change within the society we live in: we are slowly becoming more and more an information society. That is a form of society where the use, manipulation, distribution, diffusion of information is a significant economic, political, and cultural activity. The so called digital citizens are those who have means to partake the process, using IT in a creative and productive way. With this in mind, I guess that what before was just a utopian idealization can – relatively – soon really become reality, by means of technologies and average people knowledge.10 Democracy could make this step in this century on the way to digitalized democracy, but there are also ways of having a LD without the use of Internet.11
Green-Armytage, James A.K., Voluntary delegation as the basis for a future political system, University of California 2010, PP. 3-4, http://bit.ly/GCH5zT, (01.03.2012). 9 In Nordfors, Mikael, Democracy 2.1: How to make a bunch of selfish people work together, Onlinebooklet 2003, http://bit.ly/GBJU7z, (03.03.2012) even being an “outsider” – i.e. doctor – Nordfors highlights some of the key problems with hierarchical/authoritarian organization and the current systems of democracy proposing new form of democracy empowered by the use of Information and Communications Technology. 10 WikiLeaks and Arab Spring could be seen as strong signals of this process’ acceleration, too. 11 More about DD without Internet use may be found in the fourth section of the Green-Armytage paper.
Indeed, as already stated, to prove that DD is doable there are already operating projects spread around the world. PV is used by the Swedish local political party DemoEx (Democratic Experiment). They won their first seat in the Swedish city council of Vallentuna in 2002. The first years of activity in the party have been evaluated by Mitthögskolan University in a paper by Karin Ottesen in 2003. As a DD, a voter can be passive, delegating, or active, voting directly (the direct vote overrules the proxy vote). A really important feature is the possibility to change the proxy at any time. Mikael Nordfors, pioneer in the field of e-democracy, after having founded a company called Vivarto, was also one of the founders of the DemoEx political party, offering them the software the company had implemented. This idea has later also become adapted by The World Parliament Experiment (WPE), where Mikael is a member. Outside Europe, far from either Europe or United States, this kind of movement also reached in the Middle East: SD2 Pakistan project stands for “Structural Deep Democracy”.12
1.4 DD IN SIX FEATURES
Again, I want to emphasize this point: in different places democracy has to be shaped following the organization or any others’ system. The principle is that a truly fair and effective democratic system can’t be “top-down” imposed; instead it should be “selfdeterminative” in order to uniform itself on everyone’s expectations. Still a draft of main features can be draw following the summary made by Ford. (Ford 2002: 4-6) 1. Choice of Role: Each member can choose to take either a passive role as an individual or an active role as a delegate. Delegates have further choices as to how active they are and in what areas. A member who chooses and active role by becoming a delegate is expected to make an effort to understand the overall structure and operation of the organization, stay informed about the major issues the organization is facing, be familiar with members and can-
In 2005 the pilot study in Pakistan, Structural Deep Democracy, was used for leadership selection in a sustainable agriculture group called Contact Youth. SD2 uses PageRank for the processing of the transitive proxy votes, with the additional constraints of mandating at least two initial proxies per voter, and all voters are proxy candidates. Unfortunately nor official nor updated documentation regarding this has been found.
didates of important offices, and be willing to communicate and interact regularly with individuals and other delegates. The members who choose to remain individuals can still participate in the process, but just in the form of identification with their delegates. 2. Low Barrier to Participation: The difficulty and cost of becoming a delegate is small, and in particular does not require campaigning or winning a competitive election. To maximize the chance that individual voters will be able to find delegates who they identify with closely and with whom they can interact directly, there should be no fixed limit on the total number of delegates, or in some situations, a small barrier entry might still be appropriate to ensure that would-be delegates are actually determined (for ex., have to pass a short exam covering the basic principles and structure of the organization, based on readily available public information). Being a delegate normally should by no means represent a full-time job. 3. Delegated Authority: Delegates exercise power in organizational processes on behalf of themselves and those individuals who vote for them. Different delegates, therefore, can exercise varying levels of decision power. Delegates speak and act for themselves and for those individuals who have selected them. Since the occasional “celebrity effects” can be expected, the system must ensure that the power of widely popular celebrities is counterbalanced by the larger numbers of “ordinary” delegates wielding smaller voting blocks. 4. Privacy of the Individual: To avoid social pressures or coercion, all votes made by individuals are private, both from other individuals and from delegates. To minimize the influence of social or peer pressures and the potential vulnerability to coercion, the actual votes of individuals are strictly private and anonymous; while the total number of individuals that voted for each delegate in a given election cycle is public knowledge. This uncertainty of constituency, coupled with the fact that any particular “unsatisfied customers” can always change their votes or become delegates themselves, should encourage delegates to think broadly and independently and represent their community even-handedly instead of catering to the needs or demands of a specific few.
5. Accountability of the delegates: To ensure the accountability of delegates to their voters and to the community at large, all formal deliberative decisions made by delegates are public. This follows in two main respects: first, delegates must be accountable to their constituents (voters being effectively able to watch delegate’s subsequent actions); second, delegates must be accountable to the larger community (secrecy might be used not to having to explain one’s vote). 6. Specialization by Re-Delegation: Delegates can not only act directly on behalf of individuals as generalists, but through re-delegation they can also act on behalf of each other as specialists. The first-order duty of all delegates is to act as generalists, however, any complex organization or society also requires a wide variety of specialists, so many delegates will have particular areas of expertise or interest in which they are willing and able to devote additional time and attention: the principle of delegation is also used within the body of delegates to further transfer or re-delegate to each other certain kinds of specialized authority. In this account, the tools presented are by Ford himself treated expressly only at a fairly high, abstract level. Different types and scales of organizations’ structures will necessarily differ among each other.13
1.5 LD: ONE IDEA, DIFFERENT (SOFTWARE) VERSIONS
Liquid democracy is expected to be accessed by Internet (that is nowadays reachable by almost anyone, anytime); therefore it must somehow run on server machines. For these servers to be able to provide all the functions stated above, specific software is required.
«One organization may fall in basically two categories: directive or executive. […] In a traditional representative democratic organization, the board of directors or some equivalent usually serves as the primary directive structure, whereas officers elected to one or a few key positions (President, treasurer, etc.) define and manage the executive structure. […] In general, democratic values usually demand that directive structures be relatively flat and decentralized, in order to reflect the will of the membership accurately, whereas executive structures are kept hierarchical and centralized for the purpose of focusing responsibility for implementing policy and allowing more rapid response to unexpected situations.» (Ford 2002: 6-7) More is to be found in the third section of the quoted paper.
So, in this way the implementation itself will shape system’s policies and what users can do. Green-Armytage gives a hypothetical overview of what that could be:
«So, suppose that there are a number of issues to be decided at the end of a given time period. As a citizen, I have an online account that allows me to view these issues and vote on each of them. Suppose also that a number of people (called “public voters” or “model voters”) have chosen to publicly cast suggested votes on each of these issues, that is, to post them online for anyone to refer to, perhaps along with discussion forums and written or taped statements explaining the reasoning behind the votes. Now, if I’m not sure how to vote on an issue, then rather than abstaining or taking a random guess, I can pick a public voter whom I trust and copy his vote onto my own ballot. For convenience, I should be able to simply enter the name of the public voter in a particular field; then the computer will copy his vote automatically to mine. After I do this, if the public voter decides to change his public vote before the end of the period, then my online ballot will update itself accordingly (unless I specify otherwise). Likewise, if I change my mind during the period, I can cast a different vote or indicate a different public voter as my proxy. If I want to use the same public voter as the basis for all of my public votes, then I should be able to do this with a single command, rather than having to perform the same action separately on each of the different issues. The goal here is to minimize the cost to citizens with limited time to spend on voting. Public voters can view each other’s accounts, discuss the issues, and copy each other’s votes. » (Green-Armytage 2010: 8-9)
Many projects have sought to implement proxy voting systems. Just in the comparison page from which I’ll extract the information about the three most performing systems (Votorola, Adhocracy, LiqdFeedback), there’s a list of sixteen different software.14 These seven criteria about the freedom degree of voters (plus the stage of development) will be further addressed below the table, even though, of course, there are many more parameters under which a DD could – and should – be analyzed.
The objectivity of this comparison might be argued since the author is also involved in Votorola’s project. The page mentioned was last modified in October 2011 and is to be found at: Von Der Elbe, Thomas, Software-Vergleich, 2011, http://bit.ly/GHUypX, (03.03.2012). I’ll suggest considering also a deeper technical analysis in the working paper Horbank, David, Liquid Democracy: Neue Formen direkter Demokratie im Internetzeitalter, Leipzig University 2011, PP. 17-20, http://bit.ly/GBPPo2, (03.03.2012). Another precious source is the database ParticipateDB (right now in beta version) that provides a growing list of tools and services that have been used for web-based participation in the past: ParticipateDB, 2009, http://participatedb.com, (03.03.2012).
1. Scaling: Are voters free to vote on any local, national and global issue that concerns them? In terms of software this is called scalability. Many tools are suitable rather for groups from small to medium proportions. 2. Availability: Are voters free to vote at any time, 24 hours a day, every day of the year? Some tools avoid the fact that a vote must go through various phases, such as the phase of the proposal to jointly work without the possibility to vote on them simultaneously. 3. Participation: Are voters free to provide their own solutions to the vote and collect votes? For example, in some cases only administrators can. 4. Delegability: Are voters free to delegate their own voice and the votes received yet any further? Many tools provide generally no votes delegation. 5. Modifiability: Are voters free to change their position or vote at any time? Also, this is prevented in part by segments in phases: a proposal would for example be “frozen”, so it can’t be changed. Or there are times where the vote is declared by the system “complete” and one cannot change it anymore. 6. Network: a. Are voters free to choose between different tools, so that their voice is displayed and counted in all the other tools? Few tools support mirrored votes, or thematize this problem at all. Several, however, have given their consent to a “common vote registry”.
b. Are voters free to maintain their own voting tool, independent of governments, institutions, etc., but connected to the rest of the vote network? Again, the openness toward mirroring to a different (new) tool is here the only condition. 7. Export: a. Are voters free to filter all the votes for all possible criteria, such as nationality, age, etc.? How much is the reliability of the used tools, also which is the authentication method used? Once data export is supported, this filter function can also be realized by an external application. Internally, it hasn’t been realized in any tool. b. Are voters free to check the results? More or less, as above. 8. Development (state of): This describes the current state of tools’ development, and thus the assessment of their usability. This means that a tool can be obtain 10 points in a specific category, if the feature is clearly documented, but yet without having it implemented.
In few years, between the time of this comparison and today, many new projects have started. And, of course, also those mentioned have gone thought developments and changes. Votorola is social software in support of non-party primary elections and public rule making. It provides the tools to enable a radically free democracy based on unrestricted voting, drafting and discussion. The alpha prototypes cover everything from voter registration in electoral districts to consensus making. This may be the oldest project, inspiring the followers, but now less active then them.15 Adhocracy is a policy drafting tool for distributed groups, developed by a team from Liquid Democracy e.V.. It allows members of organizations or the public to compose or vote documents that represent the policy of the group.16 So it targets organizations, NGOs,
No party seems to use it anymore; even Demoex shifted to a forum framework called ED (2003-2006), and then developed (2006) and started using their own (2008). 16 As for the term, Adhocracy is a type of organization that operates in opposite fashion to a bureaucracy. The word is a portmanteau of the Latin ad hoc, meaning "for the purpose", and the suffix -cracy, from the ancient Greek kratein (κρατεῖν), meaning "to govern".
corporations and social initiatives offering a democratic process the possibility to develop its strategies, aims and internal rules. From 2011 a new interface (GUI) has been implemented granting better user-friendly access. LiqdFeedback – often written as “LQFB” – implementation focuses on structured feedback (intended to organize communication between an initiative and the voters) and the voting process itself while leaving the means of discussion within an initiative (alliance or party as far as an issue is concerned) to the choice of a given initiative. Initiatives shall get an idea how successful a proposition is likely to be and what to change in order to gain more support. Likewise voters can try to influence propositions by their feedback or instigate a new initiative with an own proper version.
2. GERMAN AND SWEDISH POLITICAL SYSTEMS OUTLINE
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, in which the king is head of state, but royal power has long been limited to official and ceremonial functions. The nation's legislative body is constitutionally; its power is only exercised by the riksdag (parliament). The 349 members of the unicameral parliament are responsible for choosing the prime minister, who then appoints the government department heads (cabinet ministers). Executive power is exercised by the prime minister and the cabinet, while the judiciary is independent. Members are elected on the basis of proportional representation for a four-year term. Since the Great Depression, Swedish national politics has largely been dominated by the Social Democratic Workers' Party, which has held a plurality (and sometimes a majority) in parliament since 1917. During the period from 1932-2006 the Social Democrats presided over the government for 65 years, almost exclusively without a minor partner.17
The Federal Republic of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic, in which the Chancellor is the head of government, while the President of Germany is the head of state (which is a ceremonial role with substantial reserve powers). Executive power is vested
A more detailed historical analysis about parties can be found in Klingemann, Hans-Dieter / Hofferbert, Richard I. / Budge, Ian, Parties, Policies and Democracy, Boulder 1994 – this counts both for Sweden (PP. 155-171) and Germany (PP. 188-205); regarding the electoral systems and party system, refer to the comparison in Siaroff, Alan, Comparing political regimes: a thematic introduction to comparative politics, Peterborough 2005, PP. 173-199.
in the Bundesregierung (Federal cabinet), and federal legislative power is vested in the Bundestag (Federal diet) and the Bundesrat – the representative body of the Länder (regional states). The parliament is elected for a four-year term and consists of 598 or more members elected by a means of mixed member proportional representation. The judiciary power is independent from the executive and the legislature.
There is a multi-party system that, since 1949, has been dominated by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).18
2.1 THE SWEDISH CASE (E-DEMOCRACY, GRASSROOTS PARTIES, NEW ISSUES INVEST POLITICS, WORLDWIDE PHENOMENA)
Within Sweden, four small political parties have been named “grassroots parties” by Boyd, because of their claims to combine participation and ICTs. Here a summary account excerpted from a bigger table.19
See previous footnote. Boyd, P. Ovid, Grassroots Political Parties in Sweden, Örebro University 2008, P. 4, http://bit.ly/GB3lvU, (03.03.2012)
«Demoex formed in Vallentuna municipality out of high school discussions on democracy. “Though the advertising campaign was small and cheap, it was enough to win the first [direct democracy] mandatory in Europe” [Norbäck, 2004]. The party binds its elected representative to vote in the council according to the results of citizens’ eVote. Participation in their system is low, possibly due to the unlikelihood of the party’s one representative casting a deciding vote. Nonetheless, Demoex managed to nearly double its votes in the last election. Participation in their system is low, possibly due to the unlikelihood of the party’s one representative casting a deciding vote. Nonetheless, Demoex managed to nearly double its votes in the last election». (Boyd 2008: 3)
Is it to be stressed that the DE political form makes indeed use of Internet and “electronic votes” but doesn’t fulfill the features of a DD: it’s still simply direct democracy. Sweden has inspired also similar projects in other Countries, such as “DemoEx UK” and “DemoEx Brasil”. But the most exported Swedish “political good” is possibly the Pirate Party. Piratpartiet was founded in 2006 by Rickard Falkvinge (leader until 2011) as the website was launched. It has taken part of the 2006 Riksag elections, without reaching the 4% minimum required; though, it became the third largest political party by membership in May 2009.20 The Pirate Party received 7.13% of the total Swedish votes in the 2009 European Parliament elections, which was originally to result in one seat in the European parliament, but became two when the Lisbon Treaty was ratified. The Pirate Parties In-
Its influence can be seen as less than a week before the 2006 elections, the Green Party shifted their stance on copyright reform. Additionally, both the Moderate Party and the Left Party changed their stances on internet downloads, and both prime minister candidates stated publicly that it shouldn't be illegal for young people to share files. Several influential analysts have credited the Pirate Party and its rising popularity for this shift in the political climate.
ternational (PPI) is the international side of movement, founded in 2010 to promote and coordinate the rise of parties with the same name and similar goals in Europe and worldwide.
2.2 THE GERMAN CASE (DD, STATE PARLIAMENT BREACH ,
INTERNAL DEBATES, LAW ACKNOWLEDGMENT )
Soon after the foundation of Piratenpartei Österreichs in Austria (July 2006), in Berlin is founded the Piratenpartei Deutschland or short Piraten, officially born 10th September 2006. In the 2011 Berlin state election, with 8.9 % of the votes the PP managed for the first time to overcome the 5 % threshold and to win seats (numbering 15 out of 141 seats in the Abgeordnetenhaus) in a German state parliament. As its relatives, the party supports the preservation of current civil rights in telephony and on the Internet; in particular, it opposes the European data retention policies. PP favors the civil right to information privacy and reforms of copyright, education, genetic patents and drug policy. It promotes in particular an enhanced transparency of government by implementing open source governance and providing for APIs (Application Programming Interface) to allow for electronic inspection and monitoring of government operations by the citizen. They themselves are testing the LD tool previously mentioned and discussed, called Liquid Feedback.21 As result of these tests, a debate arose within the party. Some of them experienced problems like a lack of participation, after the first few days of activity, resulting in leaving delegated votes unmonitored; concerning this, they are trying a delegative choice’s “expiration date” solution of six months, to prevent inactive users to compromise the system. Another issue involves anonymity and the choice of user names: should they be clearly visible for everyone or just for them who are managing their delegates? Should they match the personal ID or be freely chosen? Also, of a great importance is the fact that many have “globally” delegated their voting power, without filtering any specific area: one of the aims of DD was to rely on some experts on a matter, while on others on anoth-
The party program is constantly updated on their Wiki website: PiratenPartei, Parteiprogramm: Grundsatzprogramm der Piratenpartei Deutschland, 2012, http://bit.ly/GIsdCa, (22.03.2012).
er one. In any case, the DD system is still confined within the physical members of PP in a way that all the official decisions as party have to be made by presence, since the electronic vote it’s not yet legitimate.
2.3 LD CASES COMPARISON
Using again the same criteria of the first part about “LD: One idea, different (software) versions” (see section 1.5), it’s possible to discuss and compare this party that have such a distinctive shape.
First – and maybe most important by means of practicability – is the scale: while DE works within a city council, the PP wants to be a national party of a State big like Germany. Then the very IT system: DE has been already running its second software, tested in years, on the contrary the PP hasn’t the same amount of experience and wants also to push the “experiment” further with the LD concepts (delegability). Pooling rate, or else the frequency with which the topics are discussed and voted: there’s no relevant difference here. As for the delegability, PP made it clear as an aim, while the entire direction of DE is different and – as far as for the present – it doesn’t include this possibility. The modifiability had to do with the state of the voting process; here it’s not applicable to the party itself. For “Party” Network it’s suggested the feature of interfacing different party systems so that, for ex. voters’ list can merge without creating duplicates or one voter can move from a party to another without losing his/her voters, and so on. Export is the chance of transferring the contents from an IT system to another: it’s something that already happened for the DE and still it’s unknown in the case of PP.
3. PROSPECTS OF GERMAN LD
A series of interesting facts about the Swedish pirate party are worthy of a closer attention. On 31 May 2006 Swedish police raided a facility hosting The Pirate Bay (and Piratbyrån, along with over 200 other independent site owners, hosted at the same facility), leading to a breakthrough for the Pirate Party in the public eye. Before the raid, the Party was steadily growing with some ten new members every day, but the raid caused a surge of 500 new members by the end of the day. The next day the members were more than doubled. Later, on 17 April 2009 the court reached a guilty verdict in the Pirate Bay trial and on the same day and the day after a total of over 9,000 new members joined the Party.22 This legal fight between the entertaining industry and the use of download shed light on something now more important than it ever was, with the recent American S.O.P.A and P.I.P.A. and, especially for Europe, the A.C.T.A.. The battle about copyright infringement it’s been resonating all around the world, with billions of bloggers, website owners and even the whole Wikipedia going on strike. With this in mind, in a sketched future of the Germany – as well as the rest of EU – more and more IT users will be fighting to defend and promote their own digital rights and supposedly wider fractions of political scenery will address these issues. This would be of great impact both for the PP and for the LD system, which would be used as one among other tools provided by Internet for its citizens. If on the one hand the processes regarding IT have always had an increasing pace, on the other hand democracy has a totally different timing. Thomas von der Elbe, project manager of Votorola, was addressed about the complained inadequacy of LD promotion and it has been wisely replied:
«We are still prototyping and we don't rush things, because democracy is not a race and nobody knows yet how it all will work together. This is also why we don't advertise our software, we want to attract activists/users directly by the design of the tools and finally with the tools themselves
«“Today, on 18 May , the Swedish Pirate Party took over the delivery of bandwidth to The Pirate Bay,” says the Party’s Rick Falkvinge in a statement. “We got tired of Hollywood’s cat and mouse game with the Pirate Bay so we decided to offer the site bandwidth,” he adds. “It is time to take the bull by the horns and stand up for what we believe is a legitimate activity.” The Pirate Party says they will provide bandwidth to the site’s homepage and search engine. “The Pirate Bay is a search engine, and as such it is not responsible for the results,” notes Falkvinge.» Anderson, Nate, Pirate Party hosting Pirate Bay in proP2P political gesture, 2010, http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/05/pirate-party-hosting-piratebay-in-pro-p2p-political-gesture.ars, (03.03.2012).
[...]. I would love to see new contributors and moving at a faster pace, but experience has shown that many people are interested, but not willing to contribute and work on a common vision. »
After having explored the circumstances of DD theories’ birth, their relationship with the IT world and their common features, it has become even clearer how vital it is that a LD theory matches a distinctive version of a software framework (and how much work has still to be done in this field). In the attempt of comparing the Swedish and German case it has become evident how the former is innovative in regard of e-democracy and digital rights; meanwhile how the latter, the LQFB approach, is a unique – therefore almost incomparable – process of implementing DD. The young and experimentalist way of pirate parties to embrace and valorize the information society has spread these new themes in the global political panorama. Furthermore, it received and gave day by day attention to questions of this information society age. At last, whether PP proposal fits to Germany or not, it’s first to be asked if it would actually rather be suitable for the party itself. Apart from the digital vote not being legally thoroughly regulated, PP has ever since had a debate about LD, which could end with stopping LQFB and shifting to another system. It’s conceivable that DD – with the time that democracy requires – might be present in the German political arena, even via LiquidFeedback or not. I’d insist in stating that the PP appraises LQFB as a participatory trait of their party, but nevertheless is not going to “sink” for this matter. Losing a tool wouldn’t mean losing an ideal, a value – also shared and inspired by all those Swedish movements mentioned – that relies on a bottom-up way of conceiving and making politics in 21st century time. Further investigations could address the LQFB trial made by the Brazilian and Swiss Pirate Party or the variety of solutions adopted by newborn Swedish parties. Another suggested analysis might also be about the spreading phenomenon of pirate parties themselves, in relationship with the events that involved events of media and population’s care.
Excerpted from the mailing list [MG] Agora 2.0 and Votorola, 2011, http://metagovernment.org/pipermail/start_metagovernment.org/2011-October/004385.html, (03.03.2012). Of course it’s not an official statement, but nevertheless it expresses a point about the time of democracy that it’s per se remarkable.
Monographies · KLINGEMANN, HANS-DIETER / HOFFERBERT, RICHARD I. / BUDGE, IAN, Parties, Policies and Democracy, Boulder 1994. · SIAROFF, ALAN, Comparing political regimes: a thematic introduction to comparative politics, Peterborough 2005. Papers · BOYD, P. OVID, Grassroots Political Parties in Sweden, Örebro University 2008, http://bit.ly/GB3lvU, (03.03.2012). · FORD, BRYAN, Delegative Democracy, Yale University 2002, http://bit.ly/GBRvhm, (03.03.2012). · GREEN-ARMYTAGE, JAMES A.K., Voluntary delegation as the basis for a future political system, University of California 2010, http://bit.ly/GCH5zT, (01.03.2012). · HOLBERG, SARA, The Spanish Revolution: A study on the 15-M movement in Spain, Uppsala University 2012, http://bit.ly/ypOMd2, (03.03.2012). · HORBANK, DAVID, Liquid Democracy: Neue Formen direkter Demokratie im Internetzeitalter, Leipzig University 2011, http://bit.ly/GBPPo2, (03.03.2012). · JABBUSCH, SEBASTIAN, Liquid Democracy in der Piratenpartei: Eine neue Chance für innerparteiliche Demokratie im 21. Jahrhundert?, Greifswald University 2011, http://bit.ly/qTi3Dr, (03.03.2012). · NORDFORS, MIKAEL, Democracy 2.1: How to make a bunch of selfish people work together, Online-booklet 2003, http://bit.ly/GBJU7z, (03.03.2012). Reference websites · ANDERSON, NATE, Pirate Party hosting Pirate Bay in pro-P2P political gesture, 2010, http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/05/pirate-party-hosting-pirate-bay-in-prop2p-political-gesture.ars, (03.03.2012).
Most of the references here given are online sources. If the URL address would change in time, contact the email address (see cover) and I’ll be pleased to send the missing material.
http://metagovernment.org/pipermail/start_metagovernment.org/2011October/004385.html, (03.03.2012). · ParticipateDB, 2009, http://participatedb.com, (03.03.2012). · PIRATENPARTEI, Parteiprogramm: Grundsatzprogramm der Piratenpartei Deutschland, 2012, http://bit.ly/GIsdCa, (22.03.2012). · VON DER ELBE, THOMAS, Software-Vergleich, 2011, http://bit.ly/GHUypX, (03.03.2012).
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