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An idealist who wants a realist form of government: the UK election candidate offering digital democracy

30th April 10

Author: Kirsty Saddler, Planning Director, BBH New York (@keava)

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BBH is strictly non-partisan and typically avoids politics, but is intrigued by an independent candidate standing for Hackney South and Shoreditch this election who has taken mainstream digital behavior and applied it to politics, so offering a new model for voters.

Denny de la Haye is no career politician and has never had any party affiliation. He is instead motivated by a belief in a better political system. So he is standing with no policies and the promise of direct democracy; if voted in he will poll constituents before he votes on any issue or piece of legislation.

He believes that while there is apathy about political voting, people’s support for issues is rising – as digital has facilitated more activism and support for issue based organizations.

“If you allow people a forum and a say they will use it, but they are not motivated to vote politically as they are disillusioned by the system. The UK political system has people in positions of power who answer to a party, before their voters”.

De la Haye is aware that his system relies on people remaining consistently engaged, but this is where his experience as a web designer kicks in and he draws on participation models like Digg and Reddit.

For issues and legislation he will endeavor to get people reading around the issue to inform themselves. To do this he will post an objective synopsis of government’s texts online – inspired by Simplyunderstand.com ‘translation service’ – links can then be added to the synopsis by constituents, which can in turn be rated so the most valuable rise to the top.

It will be crowd-sourced information, without any party bias.

De la Haye’s model would become more valuable over time, as people realized the power of influence they could exert as exemplified by Obama’s election campaign and the model would build a representative picture of constituents views and how the constituency had changed over time, which can be tracked and learnt from.

If followed through it would also do away with the need for party politics, however it is still likely people would cluster around ideologies – but perhaps more their own, not those dictated by a small group of people.

So . . . back to BBH’s real interest here which is how could this work in the business and marketing world. What would happen if shareholders were done away with and there was a model based more on interest invested by people through contributions of time and/or ideas?

This suggests a world of crowd-controlled brands and an open dialogue where the brand does not assume a position of authority or expertise but is accountable to its public. It does not necessarily work for all sectors, but surely more brands could open themselves up in this way, know their place and just facilitate?

Where has this worked before and where has it failed? Could this ever really work? Love to know what you think.

www.getavote.org

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