Between October and December 2010, the first deliberative field experiment in Swiss direct democracy was conducted. The issue of the online experiment was the expulsion initiative („Ausschaffungsinitiative”) of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and the counterproposal of the government and parliament. The expulsion initiative was an emotionally charged issue with a populist dimension, and as such perhaps not well suited for reasoned discussion. At the same time, it is precisely this kind of direct democratic vote where deliberation is perhaps most needed.
The financial and economic crisis, of which we have heard so much discussion since 2007-8, is only one aspect of a whole series of underlying political trends which have been apparent for much longer: a crisis of (in)equality and of increased precarity of the workforce, a human rights crisis, a demographic crisis, an ecological crisis, a crisis in civil liberties, and above all a crisis in democracy.
Direct Democracy SA is an attempt to reform the South African electoral system by using citizen advocacy to convince currently elected politicans to commit to greater consultation with and accountability to the public, and to promote legislation to create a more democratic and representational electoral system.