Our entry into the Global Challenges Prize 2017

We are extremely happy to tell you that we are entering a version of the Interactive Electoral System into the Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape — Remodelling Global Cooperation. This competition will award US$5 million in prizes for the best new models that re-envision global governance. The Global Challenges Foundation was founded in 2012 by Swedish financial analyst and author Laszlo Szombatfalvy because he recognized that the impacts of the world’s current major challenges — especially climate change, large-scale environmental degradation, violent conflict, extreme poverty and continued rapid population growth — are being seriously underestimated by political and business leaders who too often instead focus on short term interests. So, the goal of the competition is “to incite deeper understanding of the most pressing global risks to humanity and to catalyse new ways of tackling them”.

Did someone say re-envision governance!? No problem, we’re on it! The proposal we are entering has us busy scaling up the IES since the original version was conceived as a solution to a perceived violation of constitutionally guaranteed rights in Canada. Namely, while Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says Canadians have “the right to vote in an election of members of a legislative assembly”, the fact is that periodic elections leave long stretches of time where voters have no way to exercise this right. Consequently, they have no means of switching their vote if (or, sadly, ‘when’ is perhaps more apropos here) the representatives they formerly chose end up failing to keep their commitments or make choices counter to the voter’s values. (Excitingly, our members have agreed that, in the event we win the Prize, some of the money awarded will be devoted to going to court regarding this Charter violation.)

For those unfamiliar, the Interactive Sovereign Society (ISS) was founded in 2010 to test out the IES. For six years now ISS members (which today include US citizens) have functionally exercised major changes to contemporary democratic practice. First, elections are not periodic (hence are ‘aperiodic’), allowing every individual to change their vote at any time.

Critics of this system usually argue that any such electoral process would suffer instability and fall prey to mob rule. However, the ISS has developed unique practices to ensure stable governance in ways superior to the prevalent techniques of manufacturing majorities. These include measures that provide extremely smooth transition between candidates. What has resulted is that in times of crises or during proliferation of new beliefs through the electorate there may in some cases be a swift progression of elected officials but during times of relative agreement an incumbent’s tenure may be prolonged extensively. The continuous nature of the aperiodic system ensures representatives are always accountable to their electors.

But an aperiodic electoral process is only one aspect of an Interactive Electoral System. This system also reeducates citizens on the key concepts that are fundamental to true democracy and justice: what is sovereignty, and how are consent and authority employed and recognized or usurped? Voters using the IES become conscientious that it is citizens’ consenting to be governed that provides elected representatives the authority to govern. Thus voters using this system do not presume that a majority is morally justified in imposing decisions on minorities.

Further, our submission argues that conventional modern political paradigms are ostensibly sovereign-states that grant the authority to govern to representatives chosen by the people. This decouples the power of sovereignty from the will of the people, and can see those representatives handed the ability to ‘rule with absolution’ whereby they seemingly have the ‘right’ to take decisions and actions simply “because they are the government”. This abstraction is how the world has seen purportedly democratic governments taking actions counter to public sentiment or that could arguably be described as objectively immoral. The ISS has proven that when we instead acknowledge that it is not the state that is sovereign but the people, then the will of the people cannot be overruled by state representatives with self-serving agendas.

Stay tuned for more about our entry into the Global Challenges Prize competition!