Thursday, May 13, 2010

Can a democracy be made more efficient?

I was thinking of how a democracy might be made a more efficient system. While there are problems in constructing a fair voting system , what I was thinking was: irrespective of the approach (from the various approaches mentioned in link) used to elect the representatives, why not apply free market economics to voting systems. Meaning: Voters elect representatives at a local level (may be district level, or some other small unit of measure). Then, after some definite period (say annually), the nearest neighbour localities can choose to either continue with their current representative or pick one of the more efficient neighbouring representatives. In this way, some representatives, the ones which people deem more efficient, now control greater areas, and iterate over time until you have representatives/parties governing people in proportion to the extent to which people deem them efficient. (Someone I know was wondering what this would do to states as we know it? The answer is: States are a convenient fiction. The only thing this does is make those rigid boundary lines fluid.) I think this would substantially improve the powers of democracy. But perhaps there are bottlenecks in implementation? Any other problems you guys can think of?


RukmaniRam said...

you're extrapolating to say that the person who is efficient at the local level, will be just as efficient to govern at larger scales. maybe not true? just asking, this is how the current system is expected to function too, i know.

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

@Rukmani: So there's two aspects to efficiency degradation: 1) w.r.t size 2) w.r.t time. The first is addressed in that it is not mandatory for people of one region to pick a neighbouring representative to govern them as well. They can continue with their current representative and their current size. The second is w.r.t time. This is why there is annual voting. This can be done in order to choose more efficient neighbouring reps. to govern, or if all neighbouring reps. are unsatisfactory, to elect a new rep. in one's own region. Sounds ok?

p.s: w.r.t means with respect to

Spaz Kumari said...

i could be wrong, but i think it will cause some problems. I have a vague example, i hope i still make my point--

It is said that Sanjay Gandhi's insistence for ministers of the time to compete the same way in respect of population control measures led to various ministers competing fiercely for immediate 'better measurable results', leading to lots of corruption and even some forced sterilisation in the Ganga belt.

Obvious assumption/limitation - I've assumed that the 'efficiency' referred to by you is, was, in this case, interpreted to be 'immediate measurable results' wrt population control measures. Maybe you didn't intend efficiency to mean this at all.

I just wanted to say that it has been said, after Sanjay Gandhi. that as tempting as it looks, countries should not be treated as companies and evaluated on the basis of conveniently/immediately/regularly measurable results because such results cannot always exist, and expecting a regularly improved report card (on the basis of which they are presumably to be judged to continue in office) from a politician will simply push him to provide such 'improvement' by any means, and he is usually possessed of enough power to make this easy.

I have my own reservations about above ideas, but here they are anyway.

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

@spaz: I am not sure why this system is any more susceptible to corruption than any other form of government? The solution to corruption is 2 fold: 1) Regulation & law 2) Transparency in operation. It seems to me that that set of measures can and must be implemented irrespective of the form/system of governance. No?