Moreno Yagüe on Democracy 4.0

In this video (in Spanish with Spanish subtitles), Juan Moreno Yagüe, lawyer, elected representative in the state parliament of Andalusia, and candidate to Secretary General at the recent Congress of Podemos explains Democracia 4.0–perhaps the most advanced existing proposal to integrate Parliamentary democracy with direct democracy.  Yagüe wants to allow all Spanish citizens to vote directly on bills and government decrees via the Internet as those bills and decrees are presented, discussed and voted in Parliament.

The idea might sound a bit crazy but it’s actually quite realistic. Let me give you a bit of context. Article 23 of the Spanish Constitution reads:

Los ciudadanos tienen el derecho a participar en los asuntos públicos, directamente o por medio de representantes [Citizens have the right to participate in public affairs, directly or by means of their representatives]

Based on this passage, Yagüe argues that the Spanish Constitution already allows direct democracy and thus the right of all Spanish citizens to take part directly in the Parliamentary vote via the Internet. This does not mean that the vote of the elected representatives would be nullified. Rather, Yagüe argues that the weight of each representatives vote should decrease as the total number of votes cast directly by citizens increases.

Because approximately 35,000,000 Spaniards are eligible to vote, and there are 350 Members of Parliament, each MP represents roughly 100,000 citizens. Let’s suppose that 3,500,000 citizens participate directly in a Parliamentary vote on a bill of law. In this scenario, the MPs would only represent 31,500,000 electors–i.e. 90% of the electorate. It follows that the weight of each MP vote will be only 0.9/1, corresponding to an aggregate of 315 votes. If 7 million Spaniards vote directly, the MPs cast the equivalent of 280 votes (0.8 votes per MP), and so forth. Thus the more citizens participate, the less they need to be represented.

It is to be noted in the video Yagüe argues that the Spanish Parliament has already the capabilities for supporting the e-voting of citizens. My impression is that a thorough debate would be necessary to verify the security of such system (and probably the deployment of a robust infrastructure, based on a end-to-end voter verifiable or receipt-based system). Nevertheless, it is significant that so far Yagüe’s innovative proposal has fallen on deaf ears not only within the Parliament, but within his own party. To be sure, Yagüe’s proposal was integrated in the organizational document presented by Íñigo Errejon at the Vistalegre Congress, which, however, was not approved. It is to be seen whether under Pablo Iglesias’s renewed leadership Podemos will turn this idea into a policy priority or major party proposal for the next round of elections.

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