• How can we ensure that our democracies are capable to handle the challenges of our nations and our globalized world of now seven billion people?
• How can we ensure that they are able to create balanced and stable societies in which everybody can achieve a certain degree of well-being?
• How can we optimize our democratic policy making systems?
These are some of the fundamental questions the model aims to answer.
The model highlights first of all that we, as citizens, are the highest sovereign in a democratic nation. It is, therefore, us, the citizens ourselves who shape or – at least – should be shaping the policy making system in a democracy. Only if we ourselves shape and control the performance of the policy making system, can we be sure it serves the well-being of all citizens equally.
The model suggests as a second point that we, as citizens, need to organize our efforts in shaping and controlling the policy making systems effectively. We urgently need to introduce a new organization into our democratic policy making structures and into our Constitutions, if we want to make our democracies work. We need to establish a Citizens’ Control Association with the task of shaping and controlling the performance of the democratic policy making system. (Theoretically we could also have a number of competing citizen control organizations, but this might waste resources and weaken their control function. We should start with one organization. In any case, we need an effective organization to collect all proposals on optimizing our policy making systems and to identify the best ones.)
A fundamental understanding behind this proposal is that no system works without effective control, no power plant, no corporation, and no policy making system. Our present control systems, however, elections, parliaments, the media, or specific control institutions such as national audit agencies, do not establish the effectiveness of our policy making systems. To make our democracies effective, wider society in each country needs to control them effectively.
A number of key parameters are necessary for citizens to exert effective control. They are:
• Resources, and
Citizens assemble power and adequate resources to shape and influence the policy making system (in a democratic fashion) by joining together in the suggested Citizens’ Control Association.
To hope that single persons or parties come up with a solution for making our democracies effective will probably not lead to timely results of the required quality. In order to make democracies able to cope with the challenges of our globe, we, the citizens, need to take action to identify the very best know-how on making democracies work. We need to establish a Know-how System 1 in our democracies, an institution which we could call “Citizens’ Research Institute on Democracy”, which focuses on setting up the optimal policy making system in a country. (Know-how system 2, which is an element of the policy making system further below in the graph, provides the know-how on the best policy making procedures within the policy making system. It is necessary, because individual politicians and their advisers can not have comprehensive and up-to-date know-how on setting up optimal policy making procedures.)
With the help of the optimal know-how the citizens’ organization works to set up the optimal policy making system, the blue box in the bottom right corner of the graph. Reflecting the demands for more “direct democracy” put forward in many parts of the world, we suggest that the overall democratic policy making system will probably consist of two major elements: A direct democratic policy making system for all policy making issues on which we as citizens can in fact decide directly, and the indirect democratic policy making system for all issues for which we will still need experts to take policy decisions on our behalf.
In our complex global world this indirect policy making segment is likely to remain the more important section of the policy making system by far. One task of the citizens’ control organization will be to decide precisely which policy issues can best be handled by which one of these two systems. The citizens’ organization will have to optimize the performance of both, the direct and the indirect policy making system.