Future of Democracy

Democracy 2.0: Iceland crowdsources new constitution

– Roos Jerome (June 11, 2011)

Just two or three years after its economy and government collapsed, Iceland is bouncing back with remarkable strength. This week, the small island nation earned praise from foreign investors despite allowing its banks to collapse and refusing to pay back some of its debt – belying the dominant idea among Europe’s ruling class that bank failures and defaults necessarily engender disastrous economic consequences.

Now, in a historically unprecedented move, the government has decided to draft a new constitution with the online input of its citizens – essentially crowd sourcing the creation of Iceland’s real democracy. Rather than just involving voters at the end of the process through a referendum, the Icelanders have an opportunity, through social media, to be directly involved in the writing process. It’s the ultimate affirmation of participatory democracy. It’s Democracy 2.0.

Reproduced by permission of Roar Magazine
Jerome Roos copyright (c) 2011, Roar Magazine, Democracy 2.0: Iceland crowdsources new constitution

Our perspective

We are already witnessing a strong movement towards the role of governments, in future, becoming more of a regulator and policy maker than provider of services. The more important revolutionary action at the interface of democracy and digital technologies will lead to increasingly significant direct participation of the citizens in shaping the country’s policies and laws.

The right to vote during elections is the only occasion when the citizens really put a stamp of approval or disapproval on a basket of major changes. Nationwide elections are expensive to conduct and are a strenuous exercise requiring months of preparation; therefore, most of the states conduct them after a gap of 4-5 years. In future, it will be possible to conduct elections at any frequency of time deemed fit by the citizens. The representatives will be under pressure to deliver on a quarterly basis, just like the corporates, and all policy decision will be backed by referendums from citizens conducted online.

Gazing through the crystal ball

  1. Expect ‘dream like’ changes in democratic processes such as direct democracy, online voting, online access to key government services etc. Expect more empathetic governance, better business and civic environment leading to less stress and hassles.
  2. Governments will also be far more potent with micro data on a whole range of personal choices and actions. Illegal activities must be curbed.
  3. Expect better and more meaningful redressal
    of your grievances with services and products of private corporates too leading to a better quality consumer market.

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