Sašo Miklič: We have a Democratic Deficit

Sašo Miklič: We have a Democratic Deficit

From November 2012 on there have been a series of protests against corruption in Slovenia. On a webpage of the major newspaper Delo a special section called “Revolt” was established and alternatives (Revolt in alternative) where common people could publish their ideas and deliberations about current political and economic problems. While protesting on the streets, some protesters demanded, among other things, direct democracy.

Sašo Miklič, coordinator for implementation of direct democracy in the Pirate Party of Slovenia (PP-SI), decided to explain to a broader public the basics of (electronic) direct democracy. He wrote two articles for “Revolt in alternative” (Konec strankokracije, Utopija v realnosti povsem izvedljiva) and this in turn attracted the attention of newspaper’s editorial office. They invited him to their studio to explain a little bit more about this topic (Misliti neposredno demokracijo). Later he was also invited to participate in a show “Studio City” on Slovenian national television (Studio City, interview section starts at 47:15)

We interviewed Sašo to learn more about people’s awareness regarding direct democracy and what are the chances of implementing it on the level of Slovenian society, that is, on a state level.

Pirate Times: There were many demands for direct democracy among protesters. What exactly did they demand? Do you think that majority of protesters know what direct democracy means and are their demands realistic?

Sašo: First and foremost we shouldn’t make a mistake and assume that all of the protesters are for direct democracy. People are protesting primarily against corrupt politicians, that much is clear, but otherwise it’s hard to tell what the people are exactly standing for. It’s much easier (and even louder) to hear what they are standing against. However, as soon as somebody mentions some solutions for the problems and that we should stand for something, enthusiasm of the masses greatly diminishes. So a voice for direct democracy is still a voice of some vocal minorities, yet these minorities are slowly gaining strength.

Pirate Times: Are there any civil society groups that are related to direct democracy? What is their opinion about protesters’ demands?

Sašo: Civil society groups that are related to direct democracy are basically the ones that are speaking out and promoting direct democracy. It’s not like the movement for direct democracy suddenly happened overnight with these protests. It existed even before that, but it was not that powerful. It’s true that the individuals that feel strongly about direct democracy organized themselves into civil society groups to the greatest extent yet, but in my opinion an average protester on the street still doesn’t want to take more active stance in politics other than protesting against various things. They want change, but they want and expect somebody else to do it for them. They are predominantly dreaming about uncorrupted politicians and leaders (a white unicorn hunt) and not yet about true democracy. So we have a democratic deficit so to speak.

Pirate Times: What is a standpoint of Pirate Party of Slovenia (PPSI)?

Sašo: As Pirates we are of course for direct democracy and are striving to implement it first inside our party and then with experience and practice maybe even further. Because developed political culture is essential for any successful direct democracy. Therefore a whole new political generation of citizens has to be first educated in democracy. This is the real challenge. Only an active and political citizen can make democracy work.

Pirate Times: How far is implementation of system for direct democracy in PPSI?

Sašo: It’s slowly coming to its opening phase. We are doing as much as we can with the limited IT resources at hand.

Pirate Times: What do you think could be weaknesses of system for direct democracy?

Sašo: The weaknesses of direct democracy are the same weaknesses as that of representative democracy. Whenever someone questions this or that aspect of direct democracy, I always ask him to first ask himself, if this problem is adequately solved in a representative democracy. And in vast majority of cases it’s not. It’s a general governance problem. But in direct democracy people can make their own choices if they wish so.

Pirate Times: How long do you think it is realistically to expect implementation of direct democracy on a state level? Could there be strong opposition from established politicians and parties?

Sašo: It will probably take a long time. Because politicians don’t want to lose their power and the people aren’t ready for the direct democracy yet. We should start small scale as for example we are doing right now inside our political party and then work it from there.

Featured Image: by Matej Pušnik CC-BY-SA