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Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Home Letters Brian Plummer on representative democracy and direct democracy

Brian Plummer on representative democracy and direct democracy

Dear Editor,

It is the Christmas season and my favorite time, New Year, is approaching.  It is a time of reflection and improvement. Some improve their home by repairs, painting and decorations. Some improve themselves by being generous and making New Year’s resolutions.

In this vein I suggest an improvement for the Belize political system which is a representative democracy. The next level of democracy is direct democracy, in which all people make the decisions as a group, without intermediate representation.

The earliest known direct democracy is said to be the Athenian democracy in the 5th century BC, although it was not an inclusive democracy: women, foreigners, and slaves were excluded from it. It is a way to limit the influence of the rich and powerful who dominated most, if not all, representative democracies through campaign funding, lobbying and sometimes bribery.

I suggest that all laws or constitutional change must be approved by the people by referendum.

After one year in office an elected representative could be recalled with a petition of 30% of the votes. This could be used to curb corruption by removing representatives found to be corrupt. It can be used to ensure that the area representative does a good job.

The present system has become ineffective in improving the life of Belizean citizens and needs an upgrade. Examine the level of poverty and crime in Belize. People are influenced by their environment, and the political system creates the social and material environment in a country.

People need to keep engaged after an election. The present system encourages citizens to not be a part of the decision-making process and not take ownership and responsibility for the development of Belize.

This is an attempt to start the discussion and eventual implementation of direct democracy.

Yours truly,
Brian Plummer

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