Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Democracy in Distress: Re-engineering Participation.” Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Think tank on Swiss foreign policy (foraus). Anybody can join and contribute to drafting papers on Swiss foreign policy. Party membership declining.
We face big challenges, however, and need to act — there is a tension here with our desire to include people’s concerns for our political decisions. Protests: Stuttgart 21. Nuclear power plant shutdowns. But you need to install new ways to produce electricity before shutting down power plants. Germany: wind in the north, industry in the south, so you need high voltage power lines to bring electricity from the north to the south.
=> new ways to integrate people into political decision-making.
But what kind of reform?
– direct democracy. Flaw: you can say yes or no, but not make comments. And it takes a long time to implement direct democracy.
– liquid democracy (cf. German Pirate Party). Only works within one party, the big parties are losing members.
– deliberative democracy: public discussion to reach decisions.
– go one step further: collaborative democracy.
Developed 6 tools for deliberative democracy:
– check the facts
– joint planning
– engage financially (citizen’s wind parks)
Examples: Iceland tried to crowd source its new constitution. Merkel’s dialogue with randomly picked citizens. Shell project connect to build a pipeline under the Rhine. Invited people to their plants and talked to them. Ended up changing their project a bit (different placement), and the project cost a little more, but they avoided all the inevitable protests.