Archive for the ‘Demoex’ Category

International presentation

September 14, 2010

A liberal AND a social movement

September 1, 2010

Let me quote the market-liberal Milton Friedman:
“The essence of political freedom is the absence of coercion of one man by his fellow men. The fundamental danger to political freedom is the concentration of power. The existence of a large measure of power in the hands of a relatively few individuals enables them to use it to coerce their fellow men. Preservation of freedom requires either the elimination of power where that is possible or its dispersal where it cannot be eliminated.”


It sounds like Milton Friedman would appreciate Demoex. On the other hand, i believe that his antagonist Naomi Klein, working for equality and Global Justice, also would like it.

Can Demoex be both a liberal and a social movement at the same time?

Why a failure?

August 22, 2010

Archives seigneuriales, 1507, Archives de l'Etat de Neuchâtel verso de la bulle (AS-B6.16)

When I started blogging, I was very pessimistic about Demoex’s chances to go forward in the election on 19 September 2010, so I named the blog “a failure“.  The unexpected interest and support from the world outside Vallentuna has successively increased, so now I hope that we were just a little early on stage. Electronic direct democracy might end up as a success.

Democracy Tourism

August 14, 2010

Vallentuna is not a great tourist destination, but suddenly I stood at the train station and received a democracy tourist! Erdem Ovacik is from Turkey, he is deeply engaged in rational decision-making, and he came to learn more about Demoex, our democracy experiment.


After a day in Vallentuna he had done the analysis: You have great potential, if you will only get a thousand participants you will automatically be taken seriously in politics. He made an inspiring blog post about it.

An interesting way to increase participation as Erdem suggested is to use an information market. It would be no problem for us to reward those who are active by allowing them access to the premium lot. Prices need not be so large, it is enough that it pays to be active. After the elections of 19 September, it is time to change rules and start to get more users – provided that Demoex still remains in the local parliament.

Forced to Compete

July 17, 2010

Demoex didn’t work as intended because the other parties refused to coöperate. The political system forced us to compete. The only way to push the experiment through seems to be to win more influence.  Demoex was ahead from 1.7 to 2.9 percent in the 2006 election, but we took no new mandates. It felt a little like treading water for four more years. It is easy to lose the spark when other parties protect their own interests by blocking innovation. Well, we decided to make the best of the situation and focused on developing our own democratic system in the meantime. Anders Fajerson was commissioned to work out an open-source platform in Drupal. Anders was one of the fantastic students who started Demoex in 2002. He has moved from Vallentuna and become an adult but he is still going strong. He made excellent work with the democracy forum that we are using since 2008. Wow! It feels like a new start and it can really be needed.

Hierarchical structures in the political system will cause the world to approach a disaster. Politicians seem more intent on preserving their positions than pursuing a constructive policy. The fear of losing voters seems to be greater than the willingness to make reasonable decisions. The party system oppresses dissidents and forms artificial oppositions. It will probably have to change if we are to take the democratic decisions necessary to avoid a future catastrophe.

The Tragicomic Election Campaign

July 13, 2010

We decided to make a tragicomic election campaign in 2006 with simple humor and tongue in the cheek.

We expressed a little sketch with a jester, a professor, an ape, and an odd bicycle. The play began with the clown showing a new invention, a bicycle with a large front wheel and the smaller back wheel. He proudly shows the “democracy model” to the professor, but the professor is very skeptical about the idea. He doesn’t think this strange bicycle model can work. The buffoon becomes insecure and dares not to try himself, but he forces the monkey to make an effort. It proves to work against all odds. The sketch gives the juggler the last word:

– If my stupid ape can learn to ride, everyone can do it!

“I do not listen to you, clown!” said a woman in the square when I – disguised as jester Karl Toffel with a bad circus accent – asked if she had heard about Demoex, the democracy experiment. “You are making fun of people”, she continued. I felt compelled to respond to her criticism.

– Look, I said, and started talking normally. Now, I take off my red nose. I’ve never tried to make fun of you, on the contrary! I have something to say that is so important that I am literally making a fool of myself to make you and others stop and listen. And if you refuse to listen to a clown, I am very happy to act normally instead.

– It does not matter what you do, I do not listen anyway, the woman replied. At that moment I experienced strongly the tragicomic side of the election campaign. I got the urge to laugh and cry at the same time, but I gathered myself instead, took off my hat, and wished the lady to have a nice day.

New Marketing Ideas

July 13, 2010

After the first four years, we felt pretty disappointed, so we voted in 2006 on whether Demoex should run for the next election. It was not obvious at all. The young students who started the movement had left the municipality for work or study in other places. The rest of us were now rather middle-aged. We voted anyway for to candidate.

We met and had a brainstorming. This innovative idea must be marketed in a new way, different from other parties. We thought the competitive political system was tragicomic, and we wanted to illustrate it by implementing a tragicomic campaign, something like a circus. Instead of public meetings, we decided to perform street theater on the square in Vallentuna.


We bought a penny farthing to visualize how Demoex would like to change the political system. Big wheel would symbolize representative democracy with four years between elections and the little back wheel is Demoex – the complement that makes it possible to vote more often and steer the bike/society for common people.

We also used the penny-farthing as a metaphor for another reason: We felt a spiritual kinship with the first riders who tested the new vehicle. They were sure a little weird, but unless these pioneers had taken some hard knocks and made their perilous first trips, the modern bicycle might never be developed.

Twenty-five years later the bike trail made both wheels equal in size. Another ten years later the journeys went more comfortable with a spring-loaded saddle and air in the tires. With the same speed of development, the Demoex model of democracy will become user-friendly in the year 2037. It’s too late. We have to change the model and speed up the process.

Delagated Voting experiment failed

July 12, 2010

The political parties in Vallentuna’s Local Parliament refused to cooperate with Demoex. Then it became impossible to carry through the experiment as intended. We would like to examine Delegated Voting, aka. Liquid Democracy. Delegated Voting is a flexible form of democracy in between direkt- and representative.

The lack of participation from the other parties made Delegated Voting inappropriate for us to use. We tried the first years, but then we aborted the delegated voting because the advisors were too few. The number of voters increased (counting even the passive voters) but the number of persons controlling Demoex policy decreased.

I myself became dominant, being advisor for more than  40% of the online voters. Maybe I should be flattered, but I was not comfortable in this role. I did not want to gain my own influence, rather to make a counter-example to the Iron law of Oligachy by avoiding the hierarchical structure that political organizations suffers from. The use of Delegated Voting made Demoex more hierarchical and thereby easier to manipulate.

The Demoex Failure

July 6, 2010

The right to vote is the very heart of Democracy and the public debate is the brain of it.

Hanna Arendt writes in her book The Human Condition (1958) about a public policy debate that creates a common world – a symbolic place where our actions and language are important. In the public sphere there is room for political virtue and excellence. The citizen can show  wisdom and gain reputation – win an honor that is its own reward.


To give people right to vote in separate issues on Demoex site was not a problem. But to host the public policy debate Hannah Arendt writes about was harder.

We believed that the politicians would see the opportunity to win glory and respect in the debates. In retrospect, we must admit that it was naïve of us to believe that other parties would like to participate in the experiment. But it is necessary. If citizens get more influence they should also have access to information and good arguments on substantive issues.

We failed because we did not understand how politics works. Now we know. Parties in the Local Parliament (except Demoex) strives to push through as much of their partisan agenda as possible. This leads to a minimal winning coalition, a smallest possible coalition of parties to push through their agendas. The leading parties are simply not interested in representing the public majority. They are interested in exercising and maintaining the power.

“We are debating Internal”

June 29, 2010

For us, the free debate has come to replace the nailed thesis, said the former leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party Olof Palme (1927-1986). He meant that our opinions are preliminary and we must constantly question our own and others’ positions, think independently and deepen our knowledge. It is easy to agree. Without free debate, the information society would hardly exist. For a debate to be called free some fundamental rules are necessary –  such as openness, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression. A free debate calls for independent media.

I asked Palme’s party brother in Vallentuna Hans Strandin why he did not want to participate in the public debates that Demoex arrange?

We are debating internal in the party, he replied.

Internal debates favor the dominant persons only. Internal debates are not free in the sense Olof Palme was arguing for. They tend to produce polarization or groupthink, which means a loss of relevant information. A balanced debate requires different points of view. Openness and public lighting is necessary to make sure that the arguments are properly illuminated.