WHAT is democracy?

This post only expresses the opinion of the author

Whether a decision is taken democratically or not, is not so much a result of how many individuals participate in the decision taken, but, rather, depends on whether there was a previous, population-wide agreement as to which persons should take the decision.

For instance, in a representative democracy, a very reduced group of people (the Parliament and the Government) are granted the power to take decisions. The previous existence of a social agreement, such as a Constitution, confers the decision-taking process democratic legitimacy.

In such a case, however, it is the democratic character of the Constitution itself what determines whether decisions taken by the Parliament or Government are democratic in essence.

Moreover, once a decision-taking system is in place, it is very difficult to modify. Such modifications generally require an across-the-board national mobilization which is very unlikely to occur. A full-fledged revision of an established system is utterly unlikely. In particular, the power of the individuals who “rule” the system (and the media) is a great hindrance to any change that could increase its “democratic quality”.

For this reason, the cornerstone of a democratic system is its birth: the process by which the people (the demos) agrees on the method to be used in the making of decisions.

It is essential that the new-born system ensures that the connection between the people and the decisions taken by the system is not broken. At any point in time, everyone in the system should be able to say without a trace of doubt: “I may not agree with a particular decision, but I truly believe that this is what most people want, and hence I accept it.” That is democracy for me.

DiEM25 has recently adopted a new set of Organising Principles which have been approved by a majority of the movement. I believe that, on spite the majority support that they gathered in the referendum, they are not the result of a truly participatory exercise. The main reason for this being is that we DON’T KNOW how to do it. Hence in the sense that we specify above DiEM25 could be a much more democratic institution, and although this point will be argued in later posts, we feel the need to find out, from scratch, how diemers would like to organize themselves.

It is essential to guarantee that DiEM25 is democratic at heart, that everything we do is the result of a democratic process. If we cannot make of DiEM25 a profoundly democratic organisation, we will be in no position to dream of democratising Europe.

In order to guarantee this, we need the common will to develop and use the right algorithms to ensure a democratic decision-making process. We must use those mechanisms to slow cook a new set of organizing principle. It may well be that those OP 2.0 are exactly the same as the OP recently approved by a large majority of DiEM25, but it may well be that what people in DiEM25 actually need and desire is very different. Let us find out.

Salud, Paz y Democracia


2 thoughts on “WHAT is democracy?

  1. Hello Tommy, thanks for reporting my article. From the point of view of economic policy, the only change is the request to associate the note post-Keynesian theory to the known bio-economic theory. From the point of view of governance, it notes that the optimal regional environment to administer the territories, are the “local systems” that is already known functional areas and tracked by individual European countries. The best administrative model is Swiss. Perhaps the only cultural news for the political class is the territorialist approach that reverses the thought of globalization. A geopolitical bioeconomic for the EU is to think the territory as a biological system (metabolic) and favor of direct democracy processes in territories similar to the Italian Provinces, or US counties, or the Swiss cantons.


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