Time returns to return to direct democracy
Azfar Aziz, Advisory Editor, Daily Finland : So far three city corporation elections have been held in Bangladesh mainly to test the ground for the upcoming parliamentary polls. It’s a common practice in most of the representative democracies, unlike the currently negligible number of direct democracies.
A direct democracy is where people decide and vote on policy initiatives directly, while a representative democracy is where a group of people vote for an elected official to represent them and make decisions on their behalf.
Historically direct democracy was first instituted in the Greek city states led by Athens. In a direct democracy, citizens propose, decide, and change Constitutional laws; initiate referendums; and choose and remove public officials who are not effectively doing their jobs.
Over the next few centuries the territories and population of states enlarged to such an extent that it became impossible for all the citizens to take part in every legislation and policy formation; these roles were delegated to representatives for different areas (constituencies) with a manageable population.
The Roman Republic was the first government in the Western world to have a representative government. Since then the countries across the world have evolved into various forms of indirect democracies, Until the recent past, Switzerland has been the only direct democracy in the world.
However, recently Estonia, Latvia, California, and the autonomous region of Rojava in northern Syria have joined in league with Switzerland. Referendum is one essential act of direct democracy and there are three semi-direct democracies based on referendums: 1. Botswana (Constitutional referendums), 2. Ghana (Referendums on changing regional boundaries), 3. Sweden (Consultative and constitutional referendums).
This trend of return to direct democracy is mainly because of the immense advance in ICT that has made a state similar to a Greek City in terms of the time required to raise a bill, discuss, and decide by the participation of every citizen. The time has arrived for the citizens to pick up their voting and policy-making rights — to be ruled by themselves.