The New Democracies

‘New Democracies’ is a generic term for a number of different alternatives to the traditional problems of large representative democracies. Since the emergence of the internet at the start of the 21st century, a number of theories have been proposed to return democracy to a direct system of government.

The first of these is Electronic Direct Democracy (EDD) which is where people vote directly on issues of concern. This may be done either in terms of special referenda or by regular voting on issues, particularly at local government level. A ‘hybrid’ model of both representative and electronic mediums is often proposed as a means of transition to a pure electronic model. The security of the electronic vote is cited as the most common criticism of this view.

The second option is a wiki-democracy. This is also a variation of an electronic democracy. On this system, a publically editable ‘wiki page’ is established at the start of each calendar year and citizens contribute to the development of policy on that page. At the end of the calendar year, the page is closed down and the various policies are then put to an electronic vote. Apart from the usual concern about voter security, another criticism is the question of how resources are going to be allocated to the implementation of policy. Votes would need to be taken on those issues as well.

The third form of new democracy is liquid or delegative democracy. On this system, individual voters allocate their vote to a delegate who then votes either in person or electronically. Liquid democracy is distinct from both representative and direct democracy. One thing in favour of liquid democracy is the use of blockchain technology. This appears to give some security to the vote.

The fourth form of new democracy is known as Issues Based Direct Democracy (IBDD). The system is based on a voter credit allocated to each voter which can then be used either directly, allocated to a delegate, or saved and used collectively on a decision which they regard as important. One Australian party that promotes IBDD is Flux.

The last form of new democracy is known as Citizen-Led Democracy. In Australia, this model is based on the Kitchen Table Conversation (KTC) concept used so effectively by Cathy McGowan in defeating Sophie Mirabella in the seat of Indi over the course of two Federal elections.

The KTC model operates by small informal groups getting together ‘around kitchen tables’ and discussing the issues that they think are relevant for their local electorate. The results of this conversation are then collated and published in either a physical or electronic form. At this point, the results are either presented to the local member to gain agreement to address these issues or are presented to a ‘town hall meeting’ where the conversation on the importance of the issues raised are discussed further.

The significance of this model is that it is not necessarily concerned with standing candidates for election. Rather it is a model that seeks to build community and get local issues addressed. Hence networking, community action, local resource development, etc. can all be important outcomes for a KTC. However it may be that standing candidates against sitting members will be a legitimate outcome of this process.


Woodbox Café, West Burleigh 14th November 10.30-Noon

Robina Tavern, Robina 14th November 5.30-7.00pm      

GC Arts Centre, Bundall, 15th November 11.30-1.00pm


Casual Rate $10 per class

Reading booklet $10

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