A question we’ve been asked a lot when we’re talking to people is, “Has this direct eDemocracy thing been done before?”
Strictly speaking, the answer is no. there aren’t any examples of governments run by an eDemocracy. There are places where there are strong influences of direct democracy at many levels, or where direct democracy has been used here and there. Switzerland is a great example of a country where direct democracy had a large influence, and there are many municipalities in the U.S. where direct democracy is employed, as well. But E-Democracy is a step further. After the election of Rommel Silverio—the English-speaking world's first E-Democracy representative—here in Yellowknife, we hope we can become the first.
A short while ago an organization called DemocracyOS tried to do something similar to IserveU in Buenos Aires.
That said, it’s clear that this is a trend that’s only just beginning. But just don’t take it from us. We put together a nice list of some of the different direct democracy movements that have popped up. We’re focusing on Europe here where most of the action has taken place so far, maybe we’ll go further afield in another blog post.
The Swedes are one of the pioneers of direct or liquid democracy. In the early 1990s a guy named Peter Alm started a party called Telefonpartiet (the telephone party), with the idea of letting citizens vote for decisions in parliament with their phones. A few years later, another guy named Mikael Nordfors started Direktpartiet (Direct Party). These parties are said to be the first in the world that embodied fluid democracy. Telefonpartiet only achieved a few votes when they ran for election, and Direktpartiet gave up before even trying, when the interest for direct in democracy was deemed too weak.
But Mikael Nordfors wasn’t done yet. He went on to develop the system NetConference, and later helped set up the system used by Swedish party Demoex in Vallentuna.
Around year 2000, there were experiments with online voting in places like Arizona, and Estonia started developing their e-democracy which has now become quite significant example of how e-democracy can work in the modern world. More on that later.
Swedish political party Demoex (short for democratic experiment) is a local party in the municipality of Vallentuna outside of Stockholm. The party has had a representative in the municipal council since 2002, who votes in council according to a poll held on the party’s website beforehand. All residents of Vallentuna older than 16 can vote, and anyone can take part in debates also held on the party website. Voters do not have to vote on all issues; the fewer votes on an issue, the more weight each vote carries. You can see where some of our influences come from.
- In 2002, Sweden saw its first national party acting out the idea of fluid democracy. Aktiv Demokrati (active democracy) ran with candidates in the national elections in 2006 and 2010, and in 2010 launched their own technical solution for online polling.
In 2010, no less than four parties representing fluid democracy participated in the elections: Aktiv Demokrati (national), Demoex (local), PopVox (local) and Tillit (no idea)
The Demoex experiment came to an end in 2013 when they decided to go national together with other direct democrats in Sweden, among them Aktiv Demokrati. Their new party was called Direktdemokraterna, but in the 2014 election they lost their mandate in Vallentuna and got no new mandates elsewhere in Sweden.
In Norway, political party Direktedemokratene (Direct democrats) ran in the 2003 local elections. They had no political orientation apart from practicing direct democracy by doing internet polls on all decisions the elected representatives were to vote on. In 2003 they ran in 3 municipalities: Oslo, Moss and Rygge. Gaining only a couple hundred votes in each municipality, they got no representation.
German Pirate Party launched an open source system in 2010, “Liquidfeedback”. It let voters voice their opinion through online polls, but apparently polls were not binding, probably one of the reasons they lost a lot of support in 2013.
Italian party Movimento 5 stelle (five star movement), lead by comedian Beppe Grillo, also uses a liquidfeedback-inspired system to let citizens comment, vote and help write laws. In 2013, M5S was the second largest party in Italy, with 25% of the votes.
We're standing among some extremely talented folks here. We hope we can convince others in our city of the validity of our system, and we're proud that Rommel Silverio has been elected as the first E-Democracy representative in Canada. Our work has only just begun, and we hope that the movement continues to grow in our city and stand in support of the many similar projects taking place abroad.
(Source: There is a pretty long wikipedia article on Demoex here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoex)
(Source: Per Norbäck, one of the founders of Demoex, has his own blog. He writes in faulty English about the events here: https://pernor.wordpress.com/category/demoex/ )
More on their system here: http://techpresident.com/news/wegov/24161/five-star-movement-launches-electronic-parliament