Real-Time Democracy


Standard representative democracy is criticised on democratic grounds and the case is made for an alternative system of democratic governance. The paper discusses ways in which representative democracy falls short of the democratic ideal of self-governance. Referendum and initiative are examined as mechanisms that further self-governance, but are argued not to go far enough. Direct democracy is considered as an alternative to representative democracy, but the case is made that even on democratic grounds direct democracy is unnecessarily demanding. It is argued that this is also the case with regard to Budge’s proposal for direct democratic governance, which retains a place for representation and for political parties. Real-time democracy is defended as a superior alternative. In real-time democracy, a voter’s vote is attached to an elected representative’s weighed parliamentary vote. The voter, however, is able to withdraw that vote and vote independently of her representative in parliamentary votes.

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Shane Ryan
Singapore Management University

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