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, August 11, 2008

THAILAND: Referendum Bill Progresses

If passed, this bill would allow Thais to vote in refererendums, but they will not have the power to initiate them. This power would be reserved to the Prime Minister. While this would be a step towards more participatory democracy, a more substantial and deeper adoptation of the initative & referendum process will be essential if the Thai people hope to obtain truly direct democracy. - Editor

Referendum bill progresses


Friday June 13, 2008


A 42-article draft bill on a referendum, which could open the door to constitutional amendments, passed its first reading in the House yesterday after seven hours of debate. Government and opposition MPs voted unanimously to accept the bill, drafted by the Election Commission (EC), for review.

An extraordinary committee comprising EC representatives has been formed to vet the draft legislation which must be enacted within one year after promulgation of the charter.

Before the draft bill was tabled for a vote, EC member Prapun Naigowit briefed MPs on key points.
The draft bill empowers the prime minister to decide on the topic to be put to a referendum, and whether a referendum is held to help give the government an overview of public sentiment over a critical issue, or to find a resolution.

If a referendum is organised to find a solution, a majority vote will be valid when more than 50% of eligible voters cast their votes.

Where a referendum is held to obtain an overview, the majority vote will be valid when one-fifth of eligible voters cast their votes.

Even though the government and opposition MPs accepted the bill, they are still likely to lock horns over its content.

People Power party MP Sukhumpong Ngonkham opposed a provision about the required number of voters.

He said the draft bill seemed to give more attention to those who did not cast votes than those who did.

Democrat party MP Chinnaworn Boonkiat said the bill represented true participatory democracy, and he agreed with the required number of voters.

But he questioned whether the bill was drafted to appease Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej who proposed a referendum to decide whether constitutional amendments should proceed.

Democrat MP Warong Dejkiwikrom said having a referendum over the simple question or topic alone was not enough.

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