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View Full Version : Should Citizen Initiative be allowed?


atlanticaparty
03-16-2007, 02:08 PM
That is should a petition signed by a minimum number of registered voters force a public vote on an issue?

If yes, should it be direct (a straight public vote) or indirect (goes to legislature first, then public vote if not enacted)?

girdy
03-16-2007, 03:19 PM
No. Public policy should not be determined by petitions by special interest groups. Public policy should be defined by our elected representatives with appropriate research. Petitions have no control with regards to who signed, and public (i.e. taxpayer) money should not be opened up to abuse of inappropriate petitions.

atlanticaparty
03-17-2007, 10:03 AM
No. Public policy should not be determined by petitions by special interest groups. Public policy should be defined by our elected representatives with appropriate research. Petitions have no control with regards to who signed, and public (i.e. taxpayer) money should not be opened up to abuse of inappropriate petitions.

Those are important concerns. However it should be possible to define the process to avoid these:

1. Set the initial petition threshold quite high, say 10% or 15%
2. Have tough financing rules to keep moneyed interests from subverting the process.
3. Have tough audit rules with regards to stop abuses of signatures.
4. Use the indirect approach, ie when the issue has been approved by public vote it is then sent to the legislature.

Remember if the issue is truly just a special interest issue, then a) it is unlikely they will get enough signatures or b) it simply won't pass.

girdy
03-17-2007, 12:39 PM
10% of people will sign anything, because you can always find 10% of the population who are drunk, stupid, or will sign anything out of naivety. Here's a fun one which goes to extreme to prove that point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi3erdgVVTw

Politicians are motivated to do the right thing, which in most cases is the most popular thing because they are voted in, and voted out, based on issues that they deal with. Your party is going to need to focus on getting people elected, the lack of responses on this thread is probably a good indicator of the interest level in directing public policy through petition.

atlanticaparty
03-18-2007, 01:05 PM
10% of people will sign anything, because you can always find 10% of the population who are drunk, stupid, or will sign anything out of naivety. Here's a fun one which goes to extreme to prove that point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi3erdgVVTw

Politicians are motivated to do the right thing, which in most cases is the most popular thing because they are voted in, and voted out, based on issues that they deal with. Your party is going to need to focus on getting people elected, the lack of responses on this thread is probably a good indicator of the interest level in directing public policy through petition.

No one is suggesting that public policy be directed through petition.

Remember that the petition is simply the first step. Once some threshold is passed (and the threshold can be greater than 10%) (and remember 10% is a LOT of people, tens of thousands taking quite a while). If the petition is successful then it leads to a vote which would trigger debate then a vote on a single issue. Would most CIs succeed? Probably not.

The real value of CI however is a) it encourages citizen engagement and b) its threat value, it helps keep the legislature+government focused on the agenda of citizens, if they start to focus on their own agenda too much they know that CIs may be triggered. In a proper functioning governance system CIs would rarely, if ever, need to be used.

Actually there is a lot of interest in this issue.

jdcb
03-20-2007, 09:25 AM
I think they should need 51% of the registered voters. And not a petition where someone is standing on a street corner asking, but one where they have to already know of the issue and has to request to sign the petition...

Girdy makes a nice post, and an interesting video. I think I may start a petition for that around here and see what happens. Maybe give them a letter and ask them to open it later at home explaining Di Hydrogen Oxide is water...

atlanticaparty
03-21-2007, 12:07 PM
I think they should need 51% of the registered voters. And not a petition where someone is standing on a street corner asking, but one where they have to already know of the issue and has to request to sign the petition...

Girdy makes a nice post, and an interesting video. I think I may start a petition for that around here and see what happens. Maybe give them a letter and ask them to open it later at home explaining Di Hydrogen Oxide is water...

Girdy raises important issues. CI is designed to be potent and it is important to explain that it has to have fairly high thresholds. As mentioned it would only happen from time to time.

Switzerland has had very good results with CI for quite a time now.