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The Open Democracy Manifesto ("Demarchy")

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A proposal for open democracy, its method, and why we need it.

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Problems of electoral representative democracy

The world is entering a new era. Progress is accelerating, complexity is rising. The citizens of the world are increasingly more knowledgeable, smarter, and specialised. The decentralised decision making in our economic system is keeping pace but the current political system which empowers professional politicians to impose their policy preferences on citizens has become inadequate. Insufficient decentralisation results in unmanageable complexity, progress is slow, policy failure abound, not to mention populism, corruption, and public apathy. Declining political satisfaction combined with rising political interest mixes to an explosive cocktail.

Proposed statistical representative democracy

Improving on the age-old model of sortition democracy, by which the citizens of Ancient Athens and Serenissima Venice flourished and prospered, the internet now facilitates an improved form of decentralised self-governance by adding collective intelligence to the mix. Citizens are no more impotent subjects to those in power. They make all decisions themselves, in a participative and deliberative process performed by a large number of parallel representative sociodemographic samples from their midst.

The Rules of New Demarchy

  1. New Demarchy is a non-hierarchical, non-ideologic, and transnational organisation which competes with traditional parties for votes to establish democratic legitimacy on local and national levels.
  2. Decision making is decentralised and empowers all citizens, irrespective of membership in New Demarchy.
  3. Social or political innovators can submit proposals for the adoption, prolongation, or change of policies, public enterprises and other matters of the state or any community.
  4. Collective intelligence is organised through public prediction markets which collect and aggregate consensus forecasts for the future impact of proposed policy changes.
  5. Members may participate freely with their best predictions in self-selected areas of knowledge or interest.
  6. Demarchic juries consist of members appointed for the time required to arrive at a decision on a proposal or a bundle of interconnected proposals. Jury composition shall be sociodemographically representative of the directly and indirectly affected community.
  7. Appointment is by weighted sortition from amongst the members affected by the decision, with a probability pro rata to each member’s forecasting track record in the decision’s topics.
  8. Jury size and majority requirement shall yield a 99 percent confidence level for the vote to be statistically equivalent to a majority decision of the entire affected population.
  9. A jury's information, deliberation, and decision phases shall be organised by a strictly neutral moderator determined by lot from amongst them.
  10. Each jury member except the moderator has one secret vote to be cast at sole discretion in the interest of all citizens according to best personal knowledge and free conscience. Systemic consent principles apply.
  11. Each decision shall be tracked by a prediction market on its empirical future impact whether positively intended or negatively suffered.
  12. New Demarchy members holding public offices in a hosting democracy must pledge to vote always according to jury decisions.

Advantages of New Demarchy

  • Legitimate -- New Demarchy is empowered by its vote share in each hosting democracy.
  • Neutral -- Decisions are statistically representative of the value judgements of all affected citizens.
  • Peaceful -- Conflicting interests compete in decision making without resorting to violence.
  • Honest -- The continuous change of qualified decision makers works against corruption.
  • Competent -- Jury appointments weighted by foresight increase the quality of decision making.
  • Scientific -- Decision quality verification by predicted impact follows the scientific principle.
  • Rational -- Special interests are decided on merit instead of elite power or populist majority.
  • Inclusive -- All citizens contribute knowledge and opinions for the broadest perspective.
  • Transnational -- New Demarchy can address problems which do not stop at national borders.

Disadvantages of New Demarchy

  • Engagement -- We do not just talk about political issues and problems, a good proportion of us must actively engage in the democratic process.
  • Deliberation -- We cannot just parrot political slogans but must dig deeper into problems, their likely causes and potential solutions.
  • Time requirement -- Just ticking a checkbox every four years is insufficient, participation needs a minimum time commitment.

Vienna, November 2015

How can you help progress towards true democracy?

If you want to help: Welcome!

  • You can start by contributing your personal opinion whether demarchic democracy can work. Can it improve politics? How fast can we get it? Then post your predictions and reasons here: New demarchy foundation
  • You can join us at our next monthly New Demarchy Meetup meetup in Vienna.
  • You can point us to a political challenge as a next demonstrator project. Here is the impressive list of projects already done by the demarchic NewDemocracy Foundation in Australia.

Further information

The New Demarchy model is most indebted to Australian philosopher John Burnheim's solution of statistical representation as described in "Is Democracy Possible?". It adds to this model in three elements: First, it makes more use of knowledge in society as described by Austrian Nobel laureate Friedrich A. Hayek by collecting forecasts through a public prediction market. Second, in the spirit of Karl Popper it adds falsifiability to the collective decision framework. Measurement of good and bad collective decisions can achieved by comparing forecasts to empirical outcomes. Third, New Demarchy can be applied by a new or even existing political party. As such party rises through free elections this lends democratic legitimacy to its process. It also means that in all countries with free elections there is a clear implementation path for New Demarchy, contingent only on a reasonable budget.


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  • Markus Burkert

    I was also thinking about adding "free of ideology" to the advantages. Do you think that would make sense?

    • Hubertus Hofkirchner, Chief Futurist

      No sure. The individual decision maker may apply his or her ideology. The other aspect to consider: could demarchy be an ideology? IMHO leave out till we know more.

    • Markus Burkert

      Yes, the individual decision maker will definitely apply his ideology in some (or more likely in many) cases - that´s the reason why I didn´t add it. But the argument against that fact is, that there can be no general ideology that is followed by the decision makers. Even if you see demarchy itself as an ideology (which I would rather deny for my understanding and also after reading wikipedia´s definition of ideology), it is not an ideology that will influence individual decisions. How should it? Demarchy is only a method, not a goal. The goal is set individually by every decision maker. But although I wouldn´t consider demarchy an ideology, I still don´t like the term "free of ideology", because obviously it can´t be free of acting individual´s ideologies.

    • Nikolaus L.

      What about "ideologically diversified". Because people of different ideology are involved in the decision making process.

    • Markus Burkert

      Yes and no. I think it puts it in a nutshell, but gives a wrong impression - like decisions are sometimes made from the extreme right and sometimes from the extreme left. What about "decision making independent from party angendas and ideologies"?

    • Hubertus Hofkirchner, Chief Futurist

      I assume that most people adhere to some ideology. From an individual perspective, "the others" have it wrong but their own is seen as a positive. Thus a generalised "no ideology"-argument can be good AND bad a the same time. IMHO "no-ideology" is neither true nor really always an advantage. I propose to stay away from this for now.

    • Markus Burkert

      I rather think that "ideology" is something radical and therefore negative for most people. But anyway, I agree that it wouldn´t be exactly true. What about something like "party-independent"?

    • Hubertus Hofkirchner, Chief Futurist

      I was considering the radicalism aspect as highly negative too, but then some good has come from certain ideologies, too. Seems a can of worms.

      Regarding "party-independent", it's a clear no for me. ND must also have a party arm and voter support to exercise legitimate policy decision power in democratic systems with competing parties.

      Should we drop that bit for now? There are already several important advantages, as is.

    • Markus Burkert

      Sure! That´s certainly not important enough to waste too much time discussing about it.

    • Hubertus Hofkirchner, Chief Futurist

      In Karl Popper's wiki entry I found an interesting formulation: "His political philosophy embraces ideas from all major democratic political ideologies and attempts to reconcile them: social democracy, classical liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, and socialism."

  • Markus Burkert

    I think it would make sense to also have a German version. If you agree I could write it. I´m just not sure, how/where to place it. On a seperate page? Or on this page, right underneath the English version?

    • Hubertus Hofkirchner, Chief Futurist

      Well, it's a free and open system here, so you can in principle. Two things though: I suggest to make it explicit that the English version is authoritative, and the German version a translation. Having said that, we will switch on multi language features in the foreseeable future , so it may be better to wait for that .

    • Markus Burkert

      Yes, I thought that there might be something under development or at least planned. That´s why I was asking. So of course it makes sense to wait for that.

    • Hubertus Hofkirchner, Chief Futurist

      Development of our multi-language module has started I will advise when it's ready then we can put up a German version (or other languages).

  • Hubertus Hofkirchner, Chief Futurist

    This is a written summary of the concept presented at the meetup of 25th November. Feel free to add your thoughts about this first version of the manifesto here. Forecasts for success indicators are on a separate topic page:

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    The next New Demarchy meetup at the Hayek Institute in Vienna on 30th March will start at 6pm, one hour before the Austrian School of Economics meetup. We will discuss the ins and outs of John Burnheim's early proposals for demarchic democracy. Burnheim borrowed the archaic term "Demarchy" from F.A. Hayek's works.


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