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Is referendum a good way to take decisions

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Felix
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Felix » April 2nd, 2019, 6:49 pm

Should the international law enforcement community crack down on terrorism? Should the US enact protective tariffs? Should Britain Leave the European Union?
Your example does not apply to the U.S. because we do not hold national referendums on specific issues like that, which I think is a good thing. Such a piecemeal approach to legislation is bound to lead to the sort of political impasse you see with the Brexit vote. The idea of letting a public poll decide such an important issue seems ludicrous to me.
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Eddie Larry
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Eddie Larry » April 2nd, 2019, 7:27 pm

If the referendum is just suggesting that elected politicians take course A or course B, then once the politicians have established a plan for course A or course B, there should be a follow-up referendum with the courses of action, asking the voters to choose one or the other. That last bit is sadly lacking with 5ge Brexit referendum.

Back to the people, methinks!

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LuckyR
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by LuckyR » April 3rd, 2019, 2:46 am

CSE wrote:
April 2nd, 2019, 10:49 am
@LuckyR : I do agree that for simple questions, it is easy. But the problem is that there are never really simple questions that have the kind of impact on society that make if referendum-worthy (in countries without direct democracy). As @Alias showed, even such apparently yes/no question like staying or leaving EU are obviously very complex and both "how" to manage staying and "how" to manage leaving are impacting the answers.
What is amenable to a referendum would be to say we're going to leave the EU by method X, trying to get treaties Y and Z approved and if we can't get them we're either going to abandon the project or put the actual agreed upon details up for a second final referendum.

As opposed to: leave (by no-one-knows method) vs stay, ok... Vote!
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Belindi » April 3rd, 2019, 5:07 am

Lucky, don't you think any referendum result should be advisory only? I agree that your suggestion for wording would be the proper question to ask. I wonder though, if there is any way to ask the people that question in a simple enough form to tempt the people to go to the poll. Moreover there must be extremely strict rules around public media influencing public opinion by telling lies.

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CSE
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by CSE » April 3rd, 2019, 8:23 am

Felix wrote:
April 2nd, 2019, 6:49 pm
[...]Such a piecemeal approach to legislation is bound to lead to the sort of political impasse you see with the Brexit vote. The idea of letting a public poll decide such an important issue seems ludicrous to me.
But Felix, this means that you accept a form a direct democracy for small stuff, but for important ones, trust elected representative more than the sum of the people.
But can you really say that the elected respresentatives really represent the people to make the kind of critical (non reversible) policy decisions? In the US, look at Mr. Trump. He was elected with <50% of the vote (which is fine by me, there are the electoral rules), and probably many of those votes (like always) are going to "the republican candidate" and not specifically to Mr. Trump. There was no other republican candidate to select at this point.
You can do the same game for senators and any representatives - almost always it is finally trusting one of the (impressive, generous, grand) choice between.... two parties. The elected person has more vote, but may really not represent the opinion of most voters on specific subjects.

Even with 7-8 parties active here in Switzerland, I would venture that most people do not agree with one party on every topics. With only 2 parties? This is not even remotely probable.... So the representatives are selected because broadly they have a society model that you prefer (e.g. liberal vs conservative), but specific, critical questions (Brexit) are not the "broad" model (it is not liberal or conservative per se).

@LuckyR, @Belindi, @Eddie Larry: In principle, I agree that the best is to have a very clear and specific question. But the devil is in the details, and you cannot work out all the details in every question before knowing if the option is serious or not. To take the Brexit example again: But you cannot negociate with EU a divorce contract before you decide to divorce; EU has no interest to make it easier for you to leave, and anyway your opposent will always say you "did not try hard enough" because you wanted the negociations to fail.

Now possibly a policy decision (Brexit) and then a confirmation vote when major promises of the proponents could not be followed (e.g. no deal Brexit is a major change, if the proponents always said we will get a good deal and keep acceess to the market because it is EU's interest) may be an option. But who decides if the discrepancy is large enough to justify another vote? Would that not be an incentive to "get a bad deal" in order to turn the decision over? At least many will complain about this and it is not possible to prove that "you did your best" even with a bad result.

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LuckyR
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by LuckyR » April 3rd, 2019, 3:18 pm

Belindi wrote:
April 3rd, 2019, 5:07 am
Lucky, don't you think any referendum result should be advisory only? I agree that your suggestion for wording would be the proper question to ask. I wonder though, if there is any way to ask the people that question in a simple enough form to tempt the people to go to the poll. Moreover there must be extremely strict rules around public media influencing public opinion by telling lies.
That is a completely reasonable plan. But it reduces the "referendum" to the level of straw poll. Perfectly fine, but there is already no shortage of that sort of thing.

I, of course, was supposing that the vote of the people was going to mean something, but I can get behind a system where it really doesn't.
"As usual... it depends."

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LuckyR
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by LuckyR » April 3rd, 2019, 3:20 pm

CSE wrote:
April 3rd, 2019, 8:23 am
Felix wrote:
April 2nd, 2019, 6:49 pm
[...]Such a piecemeal approach to legislation is bound to lead to the sort of political impasse you see with the Brexit vote. The idea of letting a public poll decide such an important issue seems ludicrous to me.
But Felix, this means that you accept a form a direct democracy for small stuff, but for important ones, trust elected representative more than the sum of the people.
But can you really say that the elected respresentatives really represent the people to make the kind of critical (non reversible) policy decisions? In the US, look at Mr. Trump. He was elected with <50% of the vote (which is fine by me, there are the electoral rules), and probably many of those votes (like always) are going to "the republican candidate" and not specifically to Mr. Trump. There was no other republican candidate to select at this point.
You can do the same game for senators and any representatives - almost always it is finally trusting one of the (impressive, generous, grand) choice between.... two parties. The elected person has more vote, but may really not represent the opinion of most voters on specific subjects.

Even with 7-8 parties active here in Switzerland, I would venture that most people do not agree with one party on every topics. With only 2 parties? This is not even remotely probable.... So the representatives are selected because broadly they have a society model that you prefer (e.g. liberal vs conservative), but specific, critical questions (Brexit) are not the "broad" model (it is not liberal or conservative per se).

@LuckyR, @Belindi, @Eddie Larry: In principle, I agree that the best is to have a very clear and specific question. But the devil is in the details, and you cannot work out all the details in every question before knowing if the option is serious or not. To take the Brexit example again: But you cannot negociate with EU a divorce contract before you decide to divorce; EU has no interest to make it easier for you to leave, and anyway your opposent will always say you "did not try hard enough" because you wanted the negociations to fail.

Now possibly a policy decision (Brexit) and then a confirmation vote when major promises of the proponents could not be followed (e.g. no deal Brexit is a major change, if the proponents always said we will get a good deal and keep acceess to the market because it is EU's interest) may be an option. But who decides if the discrepancy is large enough to justify another vote? Would that not be an incentive to "get a bad deal" in order to turn the decision over? At least many will complain about this and it is not possible to prove that "you did your best" even with a bad result.
I agree with your latter points completely, thus why a two stage referendum, once the details are negotiated, makes more sense than a one stage (don't care how you do it) "referendum" .
"As usual... it depends."

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Dai Cymru
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Dai Cymru » April 4th, 2019, 2:29 pm

The results of the referendum itself make the decision, it is the duty of elected representatives to implement the will of the people. Failure to act in accordance with the popular will serves to confirm our concerns about our so-called national sovereignty and makes a mockery of the so-called democratic principles. It transforms our cynicism and doubt into an astute and clear comprehension of what these unprincipled quislings are really up to. At long last, the benefit of hindsight reveals to us the true nature of the European so-called Union as a political dictatorship imposed by stealth. Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? Now that this truth has started battling with the decades of lies there will be convulsions, a most profound collision of conscience. It is due to the decency and plain good manners of British voters that we are not all wearing fluorescent waistcoats and expressing our hard won right of unconditionally free speech to inform these traitorous turncoats that they are not fooling anyone. On a more positive note, this whole deception has been very educational. For example we brits have hitherto been protected from the terror of cultural Marxism and the catastrophic effect it has on wholesome cultural standards, national identity and education of the young. It also serves to diminish our complacency, now we know that Political Correctness is not an out of hand joke or a pitiful leftie attempt to appear politically aware. We now see that Political Correctness is an atrocious tactic employed by the insidious strategists of cultural warfare, who really know how to catastrophically undermine and destabilise an entire culture. The last 2 years of disunity among self centred career politicians has enabled us to see what an ineffectual bunch ego centred loosers they really are. Now it has been clearly shown that popular vote via the ballot box has no influence on the way decisions are made , it will soon become clear that referendums are not just a good way to make decisions, they are the only way any semblance of so called democracy can continue.

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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Alias » April 4th, 2019, 5:48 pm

Felix wrote:
April 2nd, 2019, 6:49 pm
Your example does not apply to the U.S. because we do not hold national referendums on specific issues like that, which I think is a good thing. Such a piecemeal approach to legislation is bound to lead to the sort of political impasse you see with the Brexit vote. The idea of letting a public poll decide such an important issue seems ludicrous to me.
I've heard that US ballots often carry referendum style questions during regular elections.
If that's not so, it doesn't matter: I don't regard the US electoral process an emulation-worthy example.

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Felix
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Felix » April 5th, 2019, 10:20 am

"I've heard that US ballots often carry referendum style questions during regular elections."
On the state level for noncomplex issues (generally having to do with how tax revenue is spent), yes, but not on the federal level.

"I don't regard the US electoral process an emulation-worthy example."
There are certainly flaws worth correcting, e.g., the electoral college system for presidential elections that allowed a totally unqualified individual (Trump) to be elected, when he lost the popular vote by at least 9 million votes.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Alias » April 5th, 2019, 12:27 pm

Yes, the electoral college, too. The nomination process isn't all that wonderful, either.
But, really, what's most wrong with US elections is the starring role of money, along with very poor information broadcasting.
It's this aspect of representative politics that might be better served by referenda - but, again, only if the issue were clearly communicated to the voters - and that's difficult everywhere, near impossible in north America. our voters are are simply too distracted by trivia.

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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by LuckyR » April 5th, 2019, 3:37 pm

Alias wrote:
April 5th, 2019, 12:27 pm
Yes, the electoral college, too. The nomination process isn't all that wonderful, either.
But, really, what's most wrong with US elections is the starring role of money, along with very poor information broadcasting.
It's this aspect of representative politics that might be better served by referenda - but, again, only if the issue were clearly communicated to the voters - and that's difficult everywhere, near impossible in north America. our voters are are simply too distracted by trivia.
Thus why a meritocracy is the most efficient, though incredibly unpopular, form of "good" government.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Alias » April 5th, 2019, 5:09 pm

Lucky R -- [distracted voters] Thus why a meritocracy is the most efficient, though incredibly unpopular, form of "good" government.
Ye-ees... but there may be a way to make a popular form of government less corrupt. I'm pretty sure the necessary reform would be popular (actually draining the actual swamp, rather than an empty slogan) but terribly unpopular with the mediocre pols, patrons and lobbyists. They're the ones creating the trivial distractions.

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Felix
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Felix » April 5th, 2019, 8:18 pm

LuckyR: "Thus why a meritocracy is the most efficient, though incredibly unpopular, form of "good" government."

How would that work? Has one ever existed in the real world?
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Arjen
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Arjen » April 6th, 2019, 3:15 am

Well, our modern day democracies have a lot in common with a meritocracy; at least the intent does.

We vote for those who we think are 'the best'. We hire employees that we think will do the best job. We send our children to the school with the best teachers that we can find, etc. The major difference is that everyone's idea of 'the best' differs, while in Plato's republic, Socrates and Plato seem to pretend that 'the best' is completely objective. However, in modern societies, we did create systems to deduce who is 'the best': a grade system in education, a school investigation to weed out the problems in schools, number of votes for politicians.

Anyway, still plenty goes wrong, so even though I am quite happy with my government and country (The Netherlands). Money and other subjective gains do play a part in things going wrong. We are just human, all too human.

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