Direct Democracy means that individuals control the processes and powers of their government. Direct Democracy empowers the citizens regardless of the wishes of either government or parliament. Direct Democracy is NOT the same thing as a popular vote or plebiscite. Plebiscites are tools used by those in power to exercise their power over electorates.
Citizens operate their Direct Democracy powers from the local town, to region, to national levels. Direct Democracy cannot be controlled or manipulated to suit party-political or other vested interests from the government or parliament.
The Swiss model of Direct Democracy has three main procedures:
First – if parliament wishes to touch the constitution, any such draft amendment or supplement must be approved or rejected in a national referendum vote.
Second – the optional or facultative referendum ensures that parliament’s new laws or changes to laws are exposed to citizens, to receive final approval or rejection – if 50,000 voters support such a demand.
Thirdly – Citizen’s Referenda, citizens have the right to make legislative proposals to be decided in a referendum vote, if the proposal gains support of 100,000 voters.
NOTE 1 : The Swiss voter numbers quoted above are for a population of 8 million, the New Zealand case would warrant half that number, say 25,000 and 50,000 voters respectively.
NOTE 2: At the regional, and city/town levels, the citizens would arrange their Direct Democracy to reflect the local situation.
New Zealand currently operates under the MMP system. New Zealand’s legal arrangements and the provisions of MMP allow for the introduction of Direct Democracy because we already have provision for Referenda to be binding under the Electoral Act 1993 – BUT professional politicians will reject the citizen’s right to Direct Democracy, until the citizens powerfully assert that right and change the system.
Direct Democracy New Zealand
- The Tools of Direct Democracy are the Voter’s ongoing mechanism to steer the Parliamentary processes and to direct the administration to carry out voter’s instructions.
- The model below is based on application of direct democracy in the Federation of Switzerland. It is a voter-centred system of direct democracy operating at all levels of government; national, regional and local.
- The Swiss People have “democratised democracy” and they control their politicians and administration.
- The New Zealand Direct Democracy movement declares that voters have the democratic right to adapt these tools for application in our country to control the administration of our nation.
The Four Tools of Direct Democracy
Tool#1: Government Initiated Referendum;
Any ELECTED Member of Parliament can nominate a Referendum topic and place the matter before the People for their vote “yes”, or “no”. The result is binding.
The Government can turn to the people for support or clarification on important matters, and the referendum process provides the answer to the parliamentary question.
Tool #2: Facultative Referendum, also called Optional or Popular Referendum;
Parliament’s new laws, or changes to existing laws are exposed to the Facultative Referendum. If required, this referendum gives the People the final word, to approve or reject legislation in a referendum vote. To initiate this referendum the activists must collect 50,000 signatures over 100 days, to trigger the referendum process.
The Facultative/Optional/Popular Referendum option gives voters an opportunity to “apply the brakes” to the government’s laws.
Tool#3: Citizen’s Initiative/Direct Initiative/Popular Initiative;
Citizens have the right to make legislative proposals that will be decided by a referendum vote. The activists must collect 100,000 signatures within 18 months. If successful then the proposed legislation goes to a Referendum to and if a simple majority of voters support the legislation, the result is binding.
The Citizens/Direct/Popular Initiative gives voters the opportunity to nominate their own legislation and to put this before the vote of the electorate.
Tool#4: Recall Referendum;
Used at Regional and Council level to remove an elected councillor or official for criminal or improper behaviour and/or misconduct.
The People are empowered to control their elected officials post-election, as required.
|Tools of Direct Democracy||Agenda Setter||Initiator||Approver|
|Government Initiated Referendum (Binding)||Elected Government||Government||The People (voters)|
|Facultative/Optional/Popular Referendum||Parliament||50,000 signatures in 100 days||Voters|
|Citizen’s/Direct/Popular Initiative||Voters (The people)||Voter activists|
100,000 signatures in eighteen months
Regional Councils – City Councils and local Municipalities
|Tools of Direct Democracy||Agenda setter||Initiator||Approver|
|Facultative/Optional/Popular Referendum||Elected Council||Voter activists|
Recommend 1% required signatures
|Citizen’s/Direct/Popular Initiative||Voters||Voter activists|
Recommend 2% required signatures
|Recall Referendum||Voters||Voter activists, Recommend 2% required signatures||Voters|