Monday, June 08, 2009

Little bits of politics

The euro election results coming in today reveal yet another inconvenient truth for the old world of mass: a record low turn-out.

Roughly 6/10* elligable Europeans care so little about the policies and the messages of ALL political parties that they decided not to vote at all.

I wonder how many may have made the journey to the polling booths if they had known there would be an alternative box to tick? One that read:

The current system sucks. I want a new one - one that's relevant to me.
Those elected today can hardly claim a mandate. We're starting to ask what constitutes legitimate government? How low must a turn-out be before the result is considered void?

And yet everyone has an opinion about how they would like the world about them to be. The turn-out for that all-day every-day election is pretty much 100%. Current models aren't capturing how much we care.

The old mass broadcast model of democracy is being challenged just as all forms of mediation are, by the power of the network.

Our electoral system is devised to match a world of mass; of lowest common denominator; focus on the hit end of the long tail.

The Us Now movie raises some of the issues. But it doesn't challenge the basic assumption that we should be governed by massing us into geographic groupings.

Perhaps we choose not to be grouped in that way any more? Perhaps the global communities of purpose that emerge, when we get our hands on the tools of digital self-organisation, change politics and the concept of nation states as much as they challenge traditional media and traditional business models?

Perhaps self forming, adhoc, communities of purpose will become the new way in which groups are gathered to be governed and to govern themselves?

If you had to start from scratch with an electoral system today, knowing what we know now about the power of the network - and the power it gives us all, would we start from where traditional politics has delivered us?

Do you trust the judgement of everyone who gets to vote?

If our lords and masters at the centre don't deign to consider the impact of the network, I have a funny feeling we'll just end up working around them...

*Updated at 10:35am on official turn-out figures.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?