[LINK] Internet Voting
Thu, 16 Nov 2000 09:49:03 -0700 (MST)
On Thu, 16 Nov 2000, Rick Welykochy wrote:
> Or as likely as some legislation tried in Canada: an elected
> politician is contractually bond to the people to honour
> his/her election + campaign promises. It got shot down
> in the first reading. Wonder why.
Well, Rick, that's because in a parliamentary system,
it is nearly impossible to do everything one wants to,
unless one is P.M.. And even then, there are generally rules
requiring a majority of Cabinet to agree, or of some set of
major ministers, or something. And if something doesn't get
done, one can always blame one's minions.
Really, the only elected officials that can be counted on
to carry out all their promises are those with absolute power
to execute whatever decision (and whatever bothersome malcontent)
they want to: think Happy Valley and King Otto.
What you _really_ want is prop rep or severe limits on
campaign spending, so that candidates won't be so beholden to
moneyed interests or the party machinery for their positions.
> Is there any mechanism in this "democracy" of ours to
> force such legislation, from the people, onto the
> the pollies?
There is the stop-gap of recall by petition-followed-by-
referendum, which you should now has been used in British
Columbia to mixed effect. (The defendants either successfully
challenged the validity of enough signatures to cancel the
petition, or convinced the electorate that failure to carry out
promises was somebody else's fault, or beat a deadline for
holding the referendum because a general election had been
called in the meantime.
After the election (which returned most of the defendants
to office), public outrage at cooked books and personal
malfeasance caused the Premier to resign, _but not from his
seat in the Legislature_. He's under criminal investigation,
and that has satisfied the malcontents in his riding for now.
The big problem with California-style referenda is that if
they're too easy to get on the ballot, they multiply to the point
that no one can be well-informed on all the issues presented.
And one question can be the direct opposite of another, or
maybe not quite, which leads to _huge_ legal problems over the
interpretation of the will of the people if both of them are
And if a referendum question really only affects part of the
populace (say, a petition to open the Sydney Harbour Bridge to
parades and demonstrations between 2 and 4 a.m. on weeknights),
and everybody is required to vote on the issue, then how can you
be sure that the electorate has made an informed decision?
Lastly, if government by referendum becomes de rigeur, then
say goodbye to the last vestiges of ministerial responsibility,
and hello to manipulation of the populace via cleverly-worded
"polling" questions that can be interpreted however the powers
that be want them to be interpreted.
It's been done here, with mass mail-outs and reply cards,
to retroactively justify hasty (and bad) decisions re: cutting
health care budgets. We could choose between
"Should the Government have allowed runaway medical spending to
put our grandchildren in debt forever?" or
"Did the Government act responsibly by cutting the unnecessary
expenditures from the budget"
(but in folksy "plain English", of course).
Heads they win, tails you lose.
The devil is in the details.
Daryl Krupa email: email@example.com
P.S.: I hear that you are becoming so disgusted with fun-in-the-sun
that you are coming to Canada to congelate some nether ovoids
until they become deciduous. Answer the question! 8-;