A STRATEGIC ADVANCE IN DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION WITH NEW ENABLING SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES
DIRECT DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION FROM NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS TO THE
AND BRIEF HISTORY OF INITIATIVES
Initiatives and Referendums in Ancient Times
Direct democracy voting for initiatives and referendums by the citizens on important issues started around two thousand five hundred years ago In Athens, the cradle of democracy. About 590 B.C. power was granted to all the propertied classes, thus establishing a limited democracy. About 500 B.C., democracy was extended to the freemen of Athens.
Initiatives and Referendums in Modern Democracies
The earliest use of a referendum in modern democracies was in 1793 in France when a new constitution was submitted for popular vote. France, however, seldom used referendums until the around the mid 1900s. Some Swiss Cantons adopted referendums between 1831 and 1890, for both legislative measures and constitutional proposals .( Its constitution was drafted in 1848 (loosely modeled after the U.S. Constitution, but incorporating direct democracy as well as federalism) and was revised in 1874 and again in 1999. Switzerland is a relatively small country with a population today of 7,300,000, which speak four native languages though many are multi-lingual. It is divided into 26 relatively autonomous Cantons with an average population of 280,000, though this varies widely among Cantons. Only 100,000 signatures (about two percent of the voters) are required to petition a popular vote on new federal legislation. Switzerland has four elections per year and is by far the greatest user of initiatives and referendums that the world has ever known. In fact, Switzerland is the only modern democracy that currently permits citizens to propose laws in the form of [direct] initiatives (though The Netherlands introduced national indirect initiatives in February 2006). The key to the Swiss approach is to make decisions at the lowest appropriate levelsometimes called subsidiarity or devolution.
It is unlikely to be a coincidence that over the last one-hundred years, despite being in the middle of wars collectively resulting in about 70 million deaths from all causes, Switzerland has probably been the most peaceful country in the world, probably has the highest per-capita income, is universally respected and trusted, and has a quality of life consistently among the top ten countries in the world."
The Athenian Constitution
Written 350 B.C.E
Translated by Sir Frederic G. Kenyon
Aristotle's "Constitution of Athens" .. for a long time this was lost (since 800 AD) and for example significantly not available to the founding fathers of the American Republic.... Only rediscovered in relatively modern times (1891) .... what we have is fragmentary .. Apparently a set of rough student's notes found on the reverse side of some old papyrus accounts found in the Sinai Desert. (before photocopiers, students would visit the great libraries of the world and make copies like this for their own use / take away..)