Insights from the UK and beyond
Time for the people to decide on Britain’s democratic future?
Gordon Brown’s latest proposals for “democratic renewal” — the reform of MPs expenses and an elected House of Lords to name but two — could hardly be described as Parliament 2.0.
Maybe Brown should take his cue from Barack Obama, whose U.S. presidential election success had much to do with the way his campaign embraced the Web and mobile phones to mobilise American voters.
If it worked for Obama, why not go one step further and allow voters to cast their votes in local, general or european elections by texting or via the click of a computer mouse.
Obviously an electronic vote raises the issue of electoral fraud, especially given the difficulties that have been encountered in the past with postal voting.
And on a similar theme why is Britain so coy about the use of referendums? Switzerland has a long established tradition of direct democracy which provides its citizens with the right to vote on the big political questions of the day.
Given how few people voted in the European elections last week in the United Kingdom and the low esteem our political representatives are held in by the public, has the time come for people to be allowed to vote electronically in elections and for Britain to explore the idea of a more direct democratic system?