We as citizens of the United States observe politics from afar and the vast majority of us may participate in the political process only to the extent that we go to the polls once a year to vote. We may endeavor to follow the news accounts of our nation's politics as they unfold, and of the consequences those political actions yield, but we have little power to influence our "democratically" elected officials. Perhaps we write an occasional letter to our senator or representative, but we almost inevitably receive a vague and impersonal response explaining why they will vote in our opposition.

Over the decades, our representative democracy has been systematically undermined and has ultimately failed in preserving the well being of the people of this nation. The system that the founding fathers painstakingly devised in order to best serve the interests and the will of the people has been corrupted and the systems of checks and balances on power that they instituted have been stripped away. Most of us accept this reality as being beyond our control and continue to observe, comment, and complain without aspiring to achieving any real change, without any hope of instituting a new system of governance that would instead take directly into account your views, and the views of your neighbors, and would empower you to make real positive change possible in your communities.

This site will attempt to explore in depth the places in the world where people are successfully bringing about that type of change in the face of similar odds, where an alternate form of democracy, which is called participatory or direct democracy, is taking root. Initiative, referendum & recall, community councils, and grassroots organizing are but a few ways in which direct/participatory democracy is achieving great success around the world.

Our system of representative democracy does not admit the voice of the people into congressional halls, the high courts, or the oval office where our rights and our liberties are being sold out from underneath us. Our local leaders and activists in our communities, and even those local elected officials who may have the best of intentions are for the most part powerless to make real positive change happen in our neighborhoods, towns and villages when there is so much corruption from above.

In places like Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, India, and the Phillipines, new experiments in grass roots community based governance are taking place. There is much to be learned from these and other examples of participatory democracy from around the world when we try to examine how this grass-roots based governance could begin to take root here in our own country in order to alter our political system so that it might better serve the American people.

In the hope that one day we can become a nation working together as a united people practicing true democracy as true equals, we open this forum…


Monday, June 16, 2008

Turkish Greens Establish New Party with Direct Democracy Platform

We present two separate articles regarding the new Turkish Green party which has a platform based on environmental principles and direct democracy.- Editor

Turkish Greens to establish a new political party


The Greens of Turkey, who have struggled to establish their movement in Turkey since the 1980s, will seek to become a political party at the end of this month, with a platform based upon environmental principles and direct democracy.

This will be the second effort of the Greens to set up a political party; the first came in 1988 and was successful, but the party was closed down in 1994 by the Constitutional Court due to irregularities in the party budget.

In an interview with Today’s Zaman, Greens spokesman Ümit Tahin said the organizational structure of the party will be different from others. “We will of course fulfill the requirements of the Law on Political Parties, but we will have our own rules, such as a 50 percent quota of women members and rotation of party officials. We will not have a leader, but rather one man and one woman spokesperson,” Tahin noted.

The Greens of Turkey, even before becoming a political party, were accepted as an observer in the European Green Parties Council in 2005.

The Greens of Turkey have the same platform as many other global Greens -- ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy, nonviolence, decentralization, community-based economics, feminism, respect for diversity, global responsibility and future focus.

In their party program, detailed on their Web site, the Greens of Turkey claim that wars were started in order to control water and oil resources in the Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia, while Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq were occupied and Turkey is in the middle of all these problems; thus, they say, international politics based on regional cooperation, peace and friendship is necessary. The Greens of Turkey have pledged to cooperate with the Greens of the world to overcome these problems and not to act on the basis of nationalism.

According to the Greens, Turkey is suffering from human rights violations, military coups and social injustice, all stemming from an authoritarian approach to governing.

The Greens note that their movement began based on civil society organizations but that in recent years the concept of civil society organizations has been abused. The Greens say they will derive their power from real civil society organizations that are working for democracy.

The Greens define the existing Constitution as a product of the 1980 military coup and demand that a new, shorter constitution be created that focuses on basic rights. According to the Greens all types of interference in democratic politics should be banned. They note that the new constitution should emphasize that the freedoms of citizens should not be restricted in the interest of the state. They would also like to see restrictions on and civil monitoring of military expenditures along with the abolishment of the National Security Council (MGK). The Greens also want Turkey to withdraw from NATO, the Americans to be prevented from using İncirlik Air Base and the complete demilitarization of Cyprus. When it comes to the EU the Greens are in favor of continuing with the country’s accession negotiations but pledge to work for an EU based on Green principles.

Regarding the Kurdish question the Greens propose that Turkey must confront the mistakes of the past and recognize the Kurdish identity.

The Greens will discuss the details of the party’s bylaws on June 21 during a meeting in İstanbul.

Turkish Greens against current party system

Thursday, June 12, 2008

ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News


Believing in direct democracy and prioritizing the local instead of the “center,” a new political party is preparing to enter the Turkish political scene. Aiming to challenge and urge change in the political parties law in Turkey, the Green Party is set to be established at the end of this month.

“Democracy only gives its name to the existing political parties. To overcome this problem, despite the law, we tried to establish new principles,” said Alper Akyüz, one of the founders of the Green Party, emphasizing that the current political parties law prioritizes centralized leadership. Instead, the new party prefers a network type of organization, rather than a centralized one, to minimize the function of the party center, said Savaş Çömlek, another founder. There will be a rotation system for any kind of position in the party, said Akyüz citing an example of the party's principles. Having co-speakers is another choice of the party. “There will not be two male co-speakers at the same time. Two women can be co-speakers but two men cannot,” he said. The party started its organizational work six years ago and finally the work has come to an end. “This took a long time because of our principle of direct democracy,” said Çömlek.

The story of the Greens in Turkey is not new. There was a first Green Party, which operated in 1988-1994 and was closed down by a Constitutional Court decision due to some bureaucratic defects. The founders of the old Green party cooperate with the current Green movement as well.

Kyoto is not an end

The Kyoto Protocol is not a sufficient agreement, said Hüseyin Güngör, another party activist. A new agreement will be made in 2012. However the government could not understand the essence of Kyoto, Akyüz said, although the protocol has come to the parliamentary agenda to be signed by Turkey. The government's approach shows that Turkey will sign the protocol, however it will not be binding, Akyüz said, adding that it is not correct. Çömlek said the politicians are also aware of the importance of the protocol but the question is whether they would bypass the copper and oil lobbies. But the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government runs the politics of a dealer, Çömlek said.

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