Archive for November, 2009

e-petitions and Legistlation

I just read a very interesting BBC Technology article on making e-petitions compulsory for all UK councils, and I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if similar legislations were to be passed in many African countries?’ Having said that, I don’t think this bill goes far enough since, most e-petitions do and will continue to be ignored by lawmakers.

So what if, in addition to e-petitions, the law required lawmakers to publish summaries of legislation they plan to pass at least 45 days in advance? Similarly, citizens would also create e-petitions of laws they would like to see passed during the coming legislation period. Then let citizens vote (via sms/web, or even via direct mail) on the combined list of e-petitions and legislation proposals. Lawmakers would then ‘only’ work on, say, the top 10 of the vote getters. And if none of the proposals by the legislators make it to the list and they want to work on passing them, then those not on the list would need a super majority vote to become law (e.g., require 66%).

The reason I believe it is necessary for citizens to have a say on what laws are worked on and passed each legislative period is that a large number of laws passed by legislators are proposed by powerful interests/lobbyists and are either against the interests of the citizens or are of no or little benefit to them. This would go a long way in making the legislative process more democratic and accountable.

I have no doubt that powerful interests will try to game this system, so I would appreciate your feedback as to whether you think this is a good idea, and how would you improve on this proposal.

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