More Democracy

“We should react with more democracy”, said Stoltenberg, prime minister of Norway, in reactie to Breivik’s actions. More democracy through more direct democracy instruments, like referenda, does not mean people feel better represented. In the discussion about the representative democracy we find the implicit assumption that citizens vote to get power, to become the winner. Although this might be true for many political leaders, their constituency does not necessarily follow in this. Voting to be heard and to feel represented is more realistic. When I was campaigning in 2009 I spoke with many PVV-voters. The said they mostly wanted to be heard; “to punish the social democrats”, but did not want to see Wilders become prime minister. They mostly wanted to break the power of the social democrats which let them down.

“But of course we want to win to carry out our plans” is what I hear from party members in different parties. “Politics is about power and only when we are big we can achieve what we argue for.” Unfortunately, in a coalition you do not dictate. Nobody gets to have that power. Citizens seem to understand this a lot better than politicians.

Breivik and the likes of him should therefore certainly be properly represented in parliament. A functioning representative democracy has parties at the extremes to function. The assassin of Pim Fortuyn did not like this idea at all. He wanted to ‘rescue’ the country after he saw a televised debate in which Fortuyn succesfully attacked the leaders of the major center parties. Very undemocratic.

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