Better Democracy NZ is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation.

Our mission is to foster the improvement of New Zealand's democratic system and encourage the use of direct democracy through the

Veto, Citizens' Initiated and Recall referendum.


Monday, 29 July 2013

Citizens' direct democracy, new system

An example of improvements towards more direct democracy, assisted by internet and mobile phones.

We should introduce this and better systems in UK and our countries and cities.

In early 2012 the Finnish parliament made law which enables a large number of citizens to put forward a law proposal. The proposers have six months to collect 50 thousand endorsements which is about 1.2 percent of eligible voters.

The proposal can be in the form of a drafted law and assuming that certain standards have been met the parliament is obliged to treat the proposal like a parliamentary "bill".

This is not full "citizen-led" (direct) democracy because, even if parliament rejects the proposal and refuses to put it into law, no referendum or plebiscite of the electorate must follow.

So, the Finnish citizens' initiative might be termed an agenda-setting tool, with small teeth (e.g. parliament must process and debate or consider the proposal and may NOT simply ignore it).

This innovation in governance shows some features of "electronic democracy" (e-democracy). Statements of support from signatories may be collected electronically or in paper form. The government has set up an online system to collect statements of support. A self-management system may also be used subject to certification by the Communications Regulatory Authority. An NGO named Open Ministry has assisted people and groups wishing to make a law-proposal. Open ministry states that in one case "the threshold of 50 000 supporters needed to pass the initiative to Parliament was met within 9 hours of launching the campaign and by midnight some 120 000 people had signed the initiative with their online bank codes or mobile phone."

A recent successful campaign has produced a law proposal which aims to reduce penalties on small-scale private downloading from peer-to-peer networks. In Finland as elsewhere, strong public opposition has grown against draconian penalties imposed for apparently trivial on-line offences involving "downloads".
report by

Campaign for direct democracy in Britain
Citizens' Initiative and Referendum I&R ~ GB  Link to site index  Election campaign call

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