Direct democracy

From Encyklopedia Administracji Publicznej

DIRECT DEMOCRACY – it consists in exercising state power directly by members of the collective subject of sovereignty (citizens of the state, the nation, the people). Historically, it was a political system in which citizens directly and actively participated in making political decisions through the tools offered by this form – Athenian democracy (the terminological distinction between direct and indirect democracy dates to the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries). Nowadays, this form of exercising power by citizens complements the → representative democracy. Institutions of d.d. allow citizens entitled to vote to express the will in the creation of power, as well as deciding on matters of significant importance, i.e. the resolution of a specific decision problem. The conditions that must be met by instruments of d.d. are: the unity of the place and time of the settlement and the possession of political rights during the whole process of making a decision. Tools of d.d. usually have constitutional basis, including: referendum, people’s initiative, people’s veto, plebiscite, popular assembly, public consultations and recall (the right to dismiss civil servants coming from general elections). Thanks to the d.d. citizens have the opportunity to express their will in the form of a formal act leading to a specific decision (e.g., a referendum vote) or concretising essential elements of that act (e.g., in a citizens’ project – people’s initiative). The Polish legal system provides for: a → referendum (nationwide and local), a civic legislative initiative, and a rural meeting. The law also provides for → social consultations, but without decision-making binding power, they are not a form of d.d. A European country with the most rooted tradition and well-established procedures for applying d.d. is Switzerland. In addition, other countries use some forms of d.d., apart from Poland: France, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, and Liechtenstein. (→ participatory democracy, deliberative democracy) [ E. Szulc-Wałecka ].

Literature: Demokracja bezpośrednia w samorządzie terytorialnym [Direct democracy in the local government], ed. M. Marczewska-Rytko, S. Michałowski, Lublin 2012 ■ Instytucje demokracji bezpośredniej w praktyce [Institutions of direct democracy in practice], ed. O. Hałub, M. Jabłoński, M. Radajewski, Wrocław 2016 ■ M. Marczewska-Rytko, Demokracja bezpośrednia w teorii i praktyce politycznej [Direct democracy in political theory and practice], Lublin 2001.