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Open Ministry Crowdsources Laws In Finland

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the power-of-the-group dept.

Government 181

First time accepted submitter emakinen writes "The new Citizens' Initiative service started today in Finland. On the Open Ministry website, anyone can present an idea for a law or initiative. If the idea wins enough support, the ministry's volunteer workers will work on it and turn it into a presentable bill for the MPs to chew over. If 50,000 citizens of voting age agree on a bill Parliament has to take it up."

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The only drawback (5, Funny)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218313)

The only drawback there are only 49,000 citizens.

Re:The only drawback (3, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218317)

Of course, kidding, 50,000 is 1% of the population.

Re:The only drawback (0)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218557)

The real drawback is that it only takes $250,000 to pay 50,000 citizens $50 each to vote on crazy stuff to put before parliament...

Calculus error (3, Informative)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218577)

The real drawback is that it only takes $250,000 to pay 50,000 citizens $50 each to vote on crazy stuff to put before parliament...

It takes $ 2,500,000 to pay 50,000 citizens 50 each FTFY

Re:Calculus error (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218859)

Holy crap! If he used calculus to compute 50*50000 that must have been a three-whiteboard solution at least.

Re:Calculus error (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219009)

And for that amount you can just as well buy enough politicians to actually MAKE it a law rather than just having it "discussed".

Re:The only drawback (2)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218623)

And how is this any worse than someone paying people to vote for a politician who will then make the "right" decisions? I keep hearing this as some kind of "ZOMG DIRECT DEMOCRAZY WILL NEVAR WORK!!1" argument but I just don't see how it's any more flawed than parliamentary elections, if anything it's less flawed since you'd have to convince people to all vote for or against a specific issue rather than to just vote for a politician (who they are likely to not care too strongly about compared to a single issue).

Re:The only drawback (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218699)

The real drawback is that it only takes $250,000 to pay 50,000 citizens $50 each to vote on crazy stuff to put before parliament...

That's 2 500 000€.
And that's a drawback over paying 1 guy x€ how exactly?

Re:The only drawback (2)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218883)

Haha! you fool I was willing to sell my vote for a sandwich!

Re:The only drawback (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218943)

Haha! you fool I was willing to sell my vote for a sandwich!

The going rate was $2 way back when. If someone had a two dollar bill, it was suspected that he had sold his vote. This was one of the reasons that the $2 bill was so unpopular.

Re:The only drawback (3, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218625)

there's a long tradition of internet "addresses" (petitions) for bitching about things in Finland.

on an interesting note, there's this one minister for whom there's this one petition with over 50k signatures.. to fire her. http://www.adressit.com/adressi_paivi_rasasen_erottamiseksi_ministerinvirasta [adressit.com]

We used to have this in English speaking countries (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218331)

It was called "common law".

Although nobody is yet able to register support... (5, Informative)

solarissmoke (2470320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218341)

There is, however, one obstacle that the Open Ministry and the entire citizens’ initiative law is already facing.

The Ministry of Justice should have a website where people can sign the initiatives. To be legally valid, the signing of an initiative requires a bank identifier code or some other form of accepted online signature to prove the signee is who he or she says he is.

The Ministry of Justice has not even commenced the constructing of such a system. It will not be up and running before the end of the year at the earliest.

Re:Although nobody is yet able to register support (2)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218563)

Probably won't be the thing that holds it back. Bank credentials are commonly used for person identification in Finnish official websites (welfare, taxes, etc). So at least that is possible to implement.

Re:Although nobody is yet able to register support (4, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218733)

So I will sign with my banking credentials (pretty much everyone has them here nowadays, they're offered for pretty much any new bank account). You just get a series of links containing "confirm your identity with your bank", click your bank, it takes you to the page of your bank where you enter your banking credentials and confirm that you want to be recognised by that site.

Whole process takes about 30 seconds.

Re:Although nobody is yet able to register support (2)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218863)

"You just get a series of links containing "confirm your identity with your bank", click your bank, it takes you to the page of your bank where you enter your banking credentials and confirm that you want to be recognised by that site.
Whole process takes about 30 seconds."

Sounds like a wet dream of the phishing industry.

Re:Although nobody is yet able to register support (3, Informative)

tapanitarvainen (1155821) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218913)

"You just get a series of links containing "confirm your identity with your bank", click your bank, it takes you to the page of your bank where you enter your banking credentials and confirm that you want to be recognised by that site. Whole process takes about 30 seconds."

Sounds like a wet dream of the phishing industry.

Not really, since the credentials aren't reusable: you have a list of key-value pairs, each used only once, in random order. Moreover, payments require separate confirmation (second key-value match), so even man-in-the-middle attack with identification-only site wouldn't allow stealing your money (well, not that easily anyway).

Re:Although nobody is yet able to register support (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219039)

They've been having this dream for many years now, and it hasn't progressed from "dream" stage. As the other poster points out, it's actually pretty hard system to crack, even with social engineering due to nature of keys being either non-reusable or reusable but changing across a very big chart.

Do note: this is a system that HAS BEEN WORKING FOR YEARS. Not a hypothetical idea for the implementation.

Re:Although nobody is yet able to register support (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219287)

phishing banking credentials is always the wet dream of the phishing industry. but what happens mostly, is that you're forwarded to a site ran by your own bank, which then asks you for your credentials and the site requesting the confirmation is only told if the credentials check went through or not. that bank log-in procedure usually (with most banks here anyways) includes a one time pass, for which site posing as the bank to acquire needs to have a code for anyways(the site asks for a pair for a code they provide from a plastic card..).

the few attacks done against finnish consumers on finnish online banking have AFAIK included running a trojan on the victims computer which inserts an extra transaction to be done when the user goes to make transactions.

Re:Although nobody is yet able to register support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218893)

Not a big deal - in case you didn't know, almost every goverment system already does use bank identification. So only few months more until they finish developing this system..

Copyright and patent laws reform, here I come (5, Interesting)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218345)

This thing could very likely be used for the purposes of doing a complete patent and copyright system reform in small steps. I personally do not seek to completely abolish either, but I wish to bring both of them down to a maximum of 10 years so that people who patent stuff will actually have to also start utilizing their patents and not just hoard them, and copyrights won't keep on benefiting the creator for several lifetimes without them having to do any work ever again.

Do we have any Finns around here on /. that agree? I'm just curious.

Re:Copyright and patent laws reform, here I come (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218437)

"This thing could very likely be used for the purposes of doing a complete patent and copyright system reform in small steps. "

But there is probably a patent for that and a license is needed.

Re:Copyright and patent laws reform, here I come (1)

rahlskog (2010302) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218439)

Sign me up for that. I was just thinking about how I could use it to force an overhaul of the patent/copyright system. I bet I directly know at least 15 others that will support it without convincing also and they then again know people that will do the same.

Lets get the ball rolling.

Re:Copyright and patent laws reform, here I come (1)

ration (679931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218485)

Both patent and copyright legislation comes mostly from the EU, so the ministry would shoot down the proposals before they even reach the parliament. So you would need to do a European citizens' initiative [europa.eu] , which is also coming soon.

Re:Copyright and patent laws reform, here I come (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218567)

This thing could very likely be used for the purposes of doing a complete patent and copyright system reform in small steps. I personally do not seek to completely abolish either, but I wish to bring both of them down to a maximum of 10 years so that people who patent stuff will actually have to also start utilizing their patents and not just hoard them, and copyrights won't keep on benefiting the creator for several lifetimes without them having to do any work ever again.

Do we have any Finns around here on /. that agree? I'm just curious.

Wait a minute... are you trying to subvert these new laws for good rather than evil? I don't think that's what they had in mind.

Re:Copyright and patent laws reform, here I come (2)

G-forze (1169271) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218621)

Absolutely. I'm a finn and I intend to submit my idea for an intellectual property tax (that I linked to in another story a few weeks ago) once this project is online

Here it is: http://reengineeringtheworld.blogspot.com/2012/02/taxing-intellectual-property-owners-of.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Copyright and patent laws reform, here I come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218787)

Why do Finns think tax is the only way to solve problems...

Re:Copyright and patent laws reform, here I come (1)

G-forze (1169271) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218813)

Name a better way. I'm all ears.

Usually I'm not a fan of taxation, but in this particular case I think some government regulation is just what the doctor prescribed.

Re:Copyright and patent laws reform, here I come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218673)

not just hoard them

I don't know if there can exist a patent troll type of entities in the Finnish patent system. We have a hierarchy of patent systems due to the EU influences, with the corresponding variable registration fees depending of the geographical scope of the patent. The copyright protection lengths come from various international agreements, like the other commenter mentioned.
  I think this system will be used mostly for the issues related to social, environmental and developmental issues, and the ever fashionable issue of municipal democracy vs. centralized power of the state. I suspect some fringe special interest groups will try to hijack the service at least few times. What is really lacking in the Finnish political debate in my opinion is the eventually necessary public discussions relating to foreign and security policy. The media tends to avoid those issues like a hot plate even during the presidential debates. I guess the legacy of imperialistic communist neighbour still influences the editors of various media organizations.

This has been around for a while (4, Interesting)

hammeraxe (1635169) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218387)

Something similar [manabalss.lv] has been running in Latvia for a while now. People can sign online petitions that are submitted to the parliament if they get enough signatures. The identity verification is done by logging in with your bank details (as there is no official electronic ID as of now). Some of the successful initiatives include tighter tax control for shady offshore companies and stricter control of whether MPs actually obey their vows.

Re:This has been around for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218597)

We had it in Estonia from 2001 (Täna otsustan mina). However it was closed in 2010. Perhaps the finns can make it work.

Re:This has been around for a while (1)

Ja'Achan (827610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218681)

I'm curious, why was it closed down? Tried searching for it, but couldn't find much about it (in English at least).

WANT!!! (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218399)

I want this in the US so badly, with numbers adjusted for population of course. In a way we have it now, except it is only for the WhiteHouse, nothing is mandatory, and popular measures get a polite but firm dismissal (as if we were misbehaving children rather than citizens in a democracy).

Look at California (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219195)

The state is effectively ungovernable precises because of various schizophrenic initiatives put on the ballot.

Re:WANT!!! (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219221)

Same in the UK.

There was an official petitions web site set up under the last government, as part of their campaign to make it look like they were listening to the electorate. People could raise an issue, any issue, and others could sign their names to it.

All that happened was when a measure became popular enough, usually somewhere around the 50-100K mark, the PM (or more likely an underling) would tell you it was a stupid idea in their opinion and was never going to be considered further. It was a huge joke.

Liar Paradox Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218427)

Someone should propose a law which declares itself to have no effect.

Been there done that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218447)

Estonia has long had similar portals. There last one, https://www.osale.ee/, was started back in 2007.

Something similar in the UK (1)

Dupple (1016592) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218453)

You can start an e-petition and if you have 100,00 signatures it has to be debated in the House of Commons (Parliament)

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Diol1/DoItOnline/DG_066327 [direct.gov.uk]

Though they have been know to 'run out of time' to debate on at least one occasion

Re:Something similar in the UK (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218463)

If you get 100,000 signatures they only have to consider offering a debate, which means less than nothing in the Commons.

Re:Something similar in the UK (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218591)

If you get 100,000 signatures they only have to consider offering a debate, which means less than nothing in the Commons.

That is a certain measure that the politicians are too far removed from the public. If 100,000 potential votes aren't worth even thinking about for a moment then something is terribly wrong, especially if the signatures have been collected over a reasonably small area.

Re:Something similar in the UK (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219231)

Really?

Because all that's ever happened before, so far as I can tell, is that it gets to a certain level and then someone from the other side closes it with a reply telling you it's a dumb idea and they're not going to listen.

Has one of these ever actually made it as far as a debate?

All land between the lines on roads world wide (0)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218455)

. . . is now annexed by Finland!

The article does not say that the idea for a law needs to be sensible. Only that it needs support.

Just like a lot of governmental systems today, where support from special interests and lobby groups with cash can get a wacky idea passed into law.

Welcome to the Supporticism system of government!

Re:All land between the lines on roads world wide (1)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218479)

The article does not say that the idea for a law needs to be sensible. Only that it needs support.

I was thinking that exact thing. I believe a law that limits taxes to 1% of income would garner plenty of support. But it certainly wouldn't be sensible.

Re:All land between the lines on roads world wide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218505)

Actually I don't think so. We understand what we pay for. We bitch about it yes, but in general we are happy about paying the taxes (and getting the security that the benefits bring with them).

Re:All land between the lines on roads world wide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218613)

The idea of a wellfare state is generally accepted in Finland -- that includes acknowledging the implied cost. Your suggestion would not get much support.

Not to mention that 50000 signatures only guarantees that a presentation is made to the parliament, not that it gets passed as law. I think everyone understands that the system will be gamed -- the point is that a small amount of frivolous presentations is a small price to pay for the improvement in service...

Re:All land between the lines on roads world wide (4, Interesting)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218761)

In Finland, the most right wing party advertises itself as a "champion of welfare state". They're not really, but even they have to pay at least lip service.

We understand what we pay our taxes for. We have one of the most politically stable, safe, competitive and equal countries in the world. US-style unequal society is viewed with derision at best.

Re:All land between the lines on roads world wide (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219145)

In Finland, the most right wing party advertises itself as a "champion of welfare state". They're not really, but even they have to pay at least lip service.

This is something I don't think people in the US would understand, from left to right most want the welfare system. What the extreme right is claiming is that certain ethic groups are paying and other ethnic groups are leeching, they want welfare for their own not welfare for everyone. Oh maybe less blunt like making rules so that immigrants and such are ineligible for benefits, but if they could get support for racial discrimination they probably would.

Re:All land between the lines on roads world wide (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219043)

It might surprise you, but I'm kinda certain that such an idea would not get too much support in any part of Europe.

We understood that high taxes (and thus well funded social services) are generally quite beneficial to most low income people...

Supporticism system of government? (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218523)

I think the term you're looking for is Clientelism.

The most famous definition of politics is as the art and science of who gets what in society. To help understand who gets what many political scientists in the 1970s began to apply the concept clientelism, first elaborated by anthropologists and sociologists to describe
the hierarchical social relations that have long marked the countryside in peasant societies. They found that clientelism, also known as the patron-client model of
politics, permeated contemporary political systems around the world.
The term refers to a complex chain of personal bonds between political patrons or bosses and
their individual clients or followers. These bonds are founded on mutual material advantage: the
patron furnishes excludable resources (money, jobs) to dependents and accomplices in return for
their support and cooperation (votes, attendance at rallies). The patron has disproportionate
power and thus enjoys wide latitude about how to distribute the assets under his control. In
modern polities, most patrons are not independent actors, but are links within a larger grid of
contacts, usually serving as middlemen who arrange exchanges between the local level and the
national center.

tl:dr: Laws have historically not been based on sensibility, only support.

Re:All land between the lines on roads world wide (2)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218747)

You'd still have to have the idea conform to legal framework so it can be presented before the parliament, and then it has to be voted for and approved.

A friendly reminder: This is not US. Finns, and people of Nordics in general base politics around consensus rather then confrontation. This is a very significant difference which makes many "crazy" and by design confrontational ideas nearly impossible to pass.

That democracy doesn't work. (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218489)

What if a majority, any majority, decides to vote a law againts the rest of the population?

What if a majority of finns pass a law that only those born in Finland have the right to stay?

What if another majority decides that only they are true finnish citizens and pass a law about only them having the right to vote?

People are stupid and evil. True democracy doesn't work.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218525)

If 50,000 citizens of voting age agree on a bill Parliament has to take it up.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (5, Insightful)

speedwaystar (1124435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218631)

you noticed the bit where it said "Parliament has to consider the proposition," not "the proposition automatically becomes law", didn't you?

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218669)

You have a point, but:

1. There is still parliament in between the people and a law.
2. I bet you need more than just a simple 50,000 supporters to change the constitution. You probably need 2/3rd (like in many countries) of all votes.

But you are correct: stupidity and democracy aren't a good combination. Luckily, education is quite good in Finland, so if any country has a chance of pulling it off, Finland is certainly on of them.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218799)

1. There is still parliament in between the people and a law.

And what will be the parliament's criteria to veto laws? Whether they are "bad" or "immoral"?

2. I bet you need more than just a simple 50,000 supporters to change the constitution. You probably need 2/3rd (like in many countries) of all votes.

I don't know of a country where the constitution is actually followed as law instead of guideline.

But you are correct: stupidity and democracy aren't a good combination. Luckily, education is quite good in Finland, so if any country has a chance of pulling it off, Finland is certainly on of them.

I don't think it's only an education problem. I don't believe taking decisions as a homogeneous group makes sense.

I wouldn't democratically choose with my doctor, my lawyer and my accountant which medical treatment I should follow nor how to manage my contracts and my finances.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219021)

>I don't know of a country where the constitution is actually followed as law instead of guideline.

I live in one. South Africa. It does help that in this country the government is NOT the highest authority or power-holder. That is the constitutional court which has the right to strike down laws, force the creation of new laws and even force policy implementation changes if policies are found to fall short of the constitutional obligations on government.

So for example - the constitutional court back in the Mbeki-denial years forced government to make antiretroviral's available to HIV-positive mothers. Two years ago they forced the government to make a law legalizing gay marriage.

The restraint on the court is - they can only act if somebody brings a case - meaning ultimately, citizens hold the ultimate power (despite the delusions of grandeur of our politicians).

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219127)

I wouldn't democratically choose with my doctor, my lawyer and my accountant which medical treatment I should follow nor how to manage my contracts and my finances.

Not a correct analogy. Some laws don't require specialization in law or economics, only a decent amount of common sense. OTOH, a medical diagnostic does require a medical expert.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

tapanitarvainen (1155821) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218941)

You have a point, but:

2. I bet you need more than just a simple 50,000 supporters to change the constitution. You probably need 2/3rd (like in many countries) of all votes.

In Finland the parliament can change the constitution, but it has to be supported in two consecutive parliaments (with an election in between) and by 2/3 majority, or by single parliament with 5/6 majority. A bit too easy for my liking, but certainly harder than getting 50000 supporters.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218739)

What if a majority of finns pass a law that only those born in Finland have the right to stay?

What if a majority of finns vote for a party that will pass a law that only those born in Finland have the right to stay? Your whole argument relies on the assumption that by positioning a set of politicians between the people and the law we get a system with higher integrity and more respect for civil liberties, do you feel this is the case? Having a direct democracy and a constitution is not mutually exclusive, we could have an amendment process just like the representative democracies do.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

hjrnunes (1135957) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218793)

Excuse me but, I fail to see how that is any different of what exists today. There will still be a Constitution or equivalent, that laws - any law, has to respect. And in the particular Finnish case, as pointed already, proposals are voted for in the parliament. But the things that you mention can as easily happen with a representative system.
If you are right about people. remember representatives are people too, therefore as stupid and evil as any other, possibly more.
Anyway, I think you're wrong. I don't see how direct democracy works any worse than representative democracy.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218837)

If you are right about people. remember representatives are people too, therefore as stupid and evil as any other, possibly more.

Representatives might be more evil. I don't really, think so, but they might. However, they are less stupid. They have spent an important portion of their lives studying or experiencing the government of a country.

And I believe a stupid government is worse than an evil one. I don't have much to support that belief, though. Is it better to be the slave of an evil tyrant? Or the victim of a random system.

I suppose it depends on how much you depend on that government. If you can live alone in the woods, a stupid government is much better. If you live in a complex system sustained by the interaction of millions... I think I'd choose the evil tyrany of the corporate/money controlled government we live in.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

hjrnunes (1135957) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219239)

Wouldn't an evil government look stupid until you finally realize it's actually evil?

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218849)

New petition : "It should be forbidden for any female news anchor between 20 & 40 to wear anything on TV".
You'd get 50 000 votes in a heartbeat.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218905)

People are stupid and evil.

You don't escape the problem of people being stupid and evil by selecting a sub-group of those same stupid, evil people to be rulers over you.

True democracy doesn't work.

If we apply such strict criteria for a working system of government, neither does anything else. You get unjust laws from dictators and democracy and everything in between. I prefer democracy.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218931)

Funny thing about democracy: it's the worst system of government on the planet...except for all the other systems, which are much, much worse. I can't beleive you got modded up to +4 with that pithy shibboleth.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218987)

This can happen in any system based in representation. However, for some reason, that doesn't happen (usually).

The good thing of this system is that now a group of people have the same power to propose laws as a unique MP. The rest of the process is the same and I don't see much differences of what can happen in a traditional system. First, it is not that people are voting for a law; they are voting to propose a law to be considered. Second, any crazy group of people can propose any crazy law, as any crazy MP can propose any crazy law in the current system. If the rest of the parliament is also mad fo the point of approving it, then probably the population in general is nuts in general. Third, the forms of pressure by the population are not all the same. Some are more easier than others, thus showing less (or more) eagerness of the population. The parliament will naturally take that into account, putting the population proposals into context. If it turns out that it is easy to build up 50k votes in a bill proposal, then the MPs will feel less pressured to vote for them. It certainly will not be the same as 50k people protesting and trying to invade the parliament.

Re:That democracy doesn't work. (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219235)

First of all, democracy does not mean that only the good things are voted for by a society. Democracy comes from the greek words 'demos' and 'kratos', roughly translated as the 'public' and 'government'. This means that democracy is the system were the will of the majority of the people becomes law for all the people.

Secondly, stupid decisions like the ones you mention do not usually happen, because people are actually afraid that by not taking into account their fellow citizens, one day the system might be turned against them.

TeliaSonera already solved e-identity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218515)

A Finnish telco company called TeliaSonera already has a legally valid and binding software/hardware solution used in Sweden for online banking, digital signature for official records, e-shopping etc.

Google translate this:
http://www.telia.se/privat/katalog/VisaProdukt.do?channelId=-76442&pageType=detailed&OID=1537014385&tabId=0

Re:TeliaSonera already solved e-identity (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218645)

TeliaSonera is not Finnish, it's the product of a merger between Finnish Sonera and Swedish Telia. Their headquarter is in Sweden.

Also, in Sweden "Telia e-leg" is not very popular as an e-id, most people use BankID which is based on the Nexus Personal client software and the service itself is provided by Finansiell ID-teknik AB which is a company co-owned by Danske Bank, Handelsbanken, Ikano Bank, Länsförsäkringar Bank, SEB, Skandiabanken and Swedbank.

Switzerland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218527)

same in Switzerland but with 10,000 people..

Why this only works in near-ideal democracies (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218609)

1) This pre-supposes a reasonable part of the population being reasonably enlightened, and educated

2) This pre-supposes a reasonable part of the population being reasonable interested in the political processes through which they govern themselves

3) This pre-supposes a reasonable part of the population being, in principle, reasonably willed to accept and even defend compromise on important issues

4) This pre-supposes a multi-party, well-oiled democracy, in which partisan fights are background issues

All of which are factors for such an initiative being chanceless in the USA.

QFD

Re:Why this only works in near-ideal democracies (1)

hjrnunes (1135957) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218807)

I would consider those factor as requisites for any democracy.

Re:Why this only works in near-ideal democracies (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218955)

True. The USA, then, are not a real democracy. They are a plutocracy cloaked as a democracy.

Re:Why this only works in near-ideal democracies (1)

jcdr (178250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219259)

You should consider the other way: having a direct democracy tend to make the people more concerned about politic.

In Switzerland we have to vote many time per year, usually on multiple questions. The fact the all the people have to vote make a heavy pressure on the media to talk about the subjects to be voted. So it's became virtually impossible to not know the basics facts of the ongoing votes. This make everyone concerned, and if you see this process since even before you are adult, you take it as a part of the culture of the country.

I don't think that it exists a country without a large part of the population very reasonable, even if so many politics like to say the contrary to justify there somewhat outrageous (if not corrupted) power.

There is one major drawback, though (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218619)

Stupid and useless initiatives that are popular with a non-representatively small and extremist part of the population get a real chance of becoming laws, like the infamous minaret interdiction in Switzerland...

Re:There is one major drawback, though (2)

hjrnunes (1135957) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218833)

But how does that not happen with a pure representative system? A lot of people seem to assume the only laws voted for in parliaments are laws that the majority of the population supports. I don't see that. I see quite the contrary: laws go to parliament first, and then the partisan groups start the public "education" campaign to mobilize the people to their positions. Hardly any law representatives come up with is proposed by the People, they come instead from interest groups and lobbies and more often than not they damage public interest. So, look at it as a lobbying system for the People.

Re:There is one major drawback, though (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219067)

Then go and have more people sign the opposing suggestion.

Democracy isn't dropping a slip of paper in some urn every 4ish years. Unless you want others to decide how you are governed. But then, what do you need (or deserve) democracy for?

Sellout to special interests (3, Insightful)

abbamouse (469716) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218627)

Sounds like a recipe for special interest groups to dominate politics. The same is true of initiative measures in the United States -- they are largely used by well-funded narrow interest groups to advance their agendas at the expense of the public. Indeed, the whole point of the signature requirements is to keep one person (of modest means) from making a difference. As Olson predicted, these schemes lead to the victory of highly committed, well-organized, resource-rich minority positions over the larger but diffuse interests of the public,

Re:Sellout to special interests (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218967)

Remember this is talking about 50,000 in a population of 5,4 million, the equivalent number in the US would be 2.9 million people signing a petition. That's a pretty solid bit of public support, considering most people won't bother to do anything or is just indifferent to the subject at hand. Trying to listen to millions of opinions is all but impossible, I'd say signatures is a pretty good way of raising the issue, once raised you can do a public poll and hear if the other 99% are vehemently opposed or just diffusely supportive.

Re:Sellout to special interests (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219087)

The propositions don't automatically become law. If you find 50,000 idiots to sign your petition to make Lord Ubuduzul the unquestioned spiritual leader of Finland, it means exactly jack if said proposition gets laughed out the parliament.

For such extremist groups, it's not really a boon. They already can get that kind of attention from politicians. For reference, see the US. If anything, such petitions offer the ability to organize and rally people who don't actually hang onto some minority issues, but have a strong opinion about a certain topic.

Like, say, the currently discussed signing of ACTA. Protest marches are one thing, but do you think these people would actually go out of their way to pursue the defense against it? Are there any "leaders", is there any resource-rich position leader behind it that could organize and dedicate a sizable portion of their time to that struggle? Hell, is it a "minority group" at all that is trying to stop it?

Switzerland? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39218665)

In Switzerland, we have what is called a Volksinitiative, and that's actually more powerful: If you can get enough signatures, you can get the country (not the politicians!) to vote on any law. If you want to ban chocolate ice, and you get 50'000 signatures to get it voted on, and then manage to convince 51% of the population, chocolate ice is gone.

Does it work? Yes, quite well.

Re:Switzerland? (2)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218877)

Does it work? Yes, quite well.

Some recent examples :
*) Deportation of criminal foreigners
*) Interdiction to build minaret
*) No prescription for child molesters
*) Life sentence for rapists

So yeah, it works great for laws that concern 0.01% of the population but scare 90%.
What's next in Switzerland : lynching for cannabis users?

Re:Switzerland? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39219029)

Are you seriously trying to say that the Swiss don't know the difference between {child molesters,rapists} and cannabis users? The US is the only country that doesn't make that distinction...

Re:Switzerland? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39219075)

Does it work? Yes, quite well.

Some recent examples :
*) Deportation of criminal foreigners
*) Interdiction to build minaret
*) No prescription for child molesters
*) Life sentence for rapists

So yeah, it works great for laws that concern 0.01% of the population but scare 90%.
What's next in Switzerland : lynching for cannabis users?

All those examples sound good to me.

What's the issue here?

(And, instead of lynching cannabis users, they made it legal to have four plants and some carry-on- mind you).

I wish our country would be as progressive. The recent Swiss examples show that the country is able to weed out the largely unwanted elements of society while keeping a sane view towards victimless crimes.

Bravo Switzerland!

-Finn

Re:Switzerland? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39219129)

Well that is just the way real democracy works. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Isn't this how democracy is supposed to work? (1)

Auldclootie (1131129) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218759)

Since this quite probably the nearest thing in the world to real democracy - why knock it? I would like the access a Finn has to the policy making of my government...

doubtful (1)

deepsky (11076) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218763)

In Italy, the constitution (since 1948) allows 50'000 citizens to propose laws to the Parliament.

It has been used sometimes, but the Parliament has *always* shelved the proposals immediately. None has even been discussed. Not because they were awful proposals, but because this kind of tool tends to be used when the Parliament is *already* avoiding making laws on a topic. So, it will continue avoiding it.

Re:doubtful (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219099)

You have to admit, though, that Italy is a special case. In general, politics in Italy are the reason why you don't have a lot of well known political comedians. Too much competition.

Re:doubtful (1)

deepsky (11076) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219227)

I don't think it is a special case. It is well known among people that study this kind of mechanisms that participation devices are not really meant to produce a result, but mainly to disarm conflict, by giving the participants the impression that they are being heard. (US readers think of the online petitions on the White House site).

You are very naïf if you think that the Parliaments will welcome these brilliant novel ideas from the people and convert them into laws at once.

Open development of Open ministry (2)

nonusual suspect (1946174) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218765)

Let me add the development of the "Open Ministry" is also open. We welcome all interested developers and pull requests! You can find the source code at https://github.com/avoinministerio/avoinministerio [github.com] . The tech stack is currently simple Ruby on Rails hosted on Heroku, with few associated tools like MailChimp. At the moment the developers hang out at Flowdock channel https://flowdock.com/ [flowdock.com] , you'll certainly get an invitation by request.

As the service has been just launched we just squash bugs and keep service up and running, and hopefully we'll survive the Slashdot effect (which surely will be toned down by Finnish only website). On the (open) roadmap there are things like

  • o higher engagement with users by following ideas and discussions, and perhaps
  • o multi-lingual site (though the nature of online discussions usually work out better in one main language).

Join us, help us! Hack the law!

Re:Open development of Open ministry (1)

Ja'Achan (827610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218885)

Hack the law!

First we could hack the source code, and now we can hack the law too? If this goes on like this, someone will make it possible for us to hack the planet!

Still not set-and-forget democracy (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218811)

I hope they don't ignore the fact that even this process can be abused, if the wrong people (One Percenters or other tyrannical types) get a mind to do so. Need an example? Look no further than the state initiative process in California, United States, which is intended to function and serve the same purpose as this new process in Finland. It's been abused repeatedly to pass laws that had far less chance of being enacted through the traditional process.

'Open' process or not, if people can be successfully mislead or mis-educated into proposing and promoting bad legislation, the democratic and egalitarian processes can still run off the rails. A continuous ongoing "revolution" is the only means of preserving either. The revolution must never stop, because neither does the enemy it seeks to thwart.

Re:Still not set-and-forget democracy (1)

Ja'Achan (827610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218875)

which is intended to function and serve the same purpose as this new process in Finland. It's been abused repeatedly to pass laws that had far less chance of being enacted through the traditional process.

I'm a little confused. I thought passing laws that have less chance of being enacted through the traditional process is the purpose of this new process?

Re:Still not set-and-forget democracy (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218921)

I was referring to BAD laws getting proposed and passed. I realized after clicking Submit that I wasn't very transparent and had only implied it, but as you already know I couldn't edit the comment. Wasn't the implication obvious enough from the context in any case? Don't be pedantic if the purpose is just to mock my goof.

Re:Still not set-and-forget democracy (1)

Ja'Achan (827610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219121)

Bad laws, good laws. What's good for you is bad for someone else. You made it sounds like "It's a good idea when it helps me it but a bad idea when it helps others."

Re:Still not set-and-forget democracy (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39219189)

No, I DID NOT make it sound that way, I made it sound exactly the opposite. You don't fucking understand the difference between laws that serve the common good and those that serve some selfish uber-tribal minority, do you? I don't often say this so bluntly without qualification, but you're a jackass and further engaging you is unconstructive. Bugger off.

Also in Portugal (1)

rnsimoes (1886500) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218865)

In Portugal this has also been launched in the government portal, a few weeks ago. Check it out at: http://www.portugal.gov.pt/pt/o-meu-movimento.aspx [portugal.gov.pt] (in Portuguese language). The most voted initiative will have a meeting with the prime minister. By the way, the new government portal launched a few weeks ago was otherwise really a bad idea (it just threw out all previous content: a lot of broken links around...).

Welcom to the club ! (1)

jcdr (178250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218949)

From a Swiss citizen.

Here this is in place since 1848, but I hope that the adoption of the referendum will grow an a accelerated rate in many countries.

the public is not to be trusted (1)

swell (195815) | more than 2 years ago | (#39218991)

In the US, what would have happened if the public were to opine about Negro rights in the South or Irish, Italian or Puerto Rican immigrants in New York? What would have happened after the World Trade Center disaster to Muslim immigrants?

Public opinion is volatile, easily swayed by raw emotion, religious fervor and yellow journalism, and requires the moderation of level heads before being rushed into legislation.

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