Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is Taiwan ready for Direct Democracy?

Once again the debate is raging in Taiwan on weather or not to finish and then perhaps one day begin operating the Gongliao number 4 nuclear power plant.

The two main questions currently being debated appear to be on the safety of nuclear power (whether or not it is appropriate for Taiwan) and whether or not Taiwan has a real need for “nuclear” power.

Although these two points are valid issues, I would say that there is a more pertinent issue at hand. This is the question of whether or not the people of Taiwan are ready to begin making decisions of such significance or whether such decisions should remain in the hands of politicians of political parties.

In the days before communication's/information technology of the Internet, Representative Democracy was perhaps the best of the limited options available for the people of Taiwan to participate in government by choosing which politicians got to make all of the decisions. 

Nowadays however, with advances in communication's/information technology, the only barriers to real/direct Democracy are the psychological ones, those voices that keep telling the people that only a few are qualified to determine what's best for all the people.

So again I ask, are the people of Taiwan ready to begin making their own decisions? If so, then I suggest taking charge of the argument and directing it towards instituting a new form of online Direct Democracy wherein all proposals, debates and votes from the community levels on up can be conducted online, on the Internet.

Don't be fooled by the arguments against Direct Democracy and online voting. They (I would say) are mostly made by those unfamiliar with modern technology, and by those who fear losing the traditional power base afforded to those born into elite families, those with better education and more money.

The reality of Direct democracy and online voting is that we already have the technology and it is extremely difficult to falsify the results. For example, in the case of a simple yes/no votes on rules and regulations, voters would need only use their ID numbers to register to vote and then vote. As soon as one has finished voting, he or she could go to another page with all the votes next to their corresponding ID numbers so as to check that his or her vote and all other votes have been correctly counted. Of course, there are some more safeguards that may be required. However, the bottom line is that in opening up the entire process – from proposal to vote – to full public participation and public scrutiny, the people take responsibility for the people to ensure that the degree of Democracy as the collective will of the people is based on the standing participation of the people and no longer dependent on just the few.

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