33. Politicians’ power must be balanced by Citizens’ Senate

One of the biggest differences between the European and the UK model of post-war democracy is that the first one produces mostly coalition governments, whereas the governments in the UK have been run almost exclusively by a single, majority party. That is the outcome of the First Past the Post system but also the belief that a ‘strong’, one party rule is more efficient and more effective in delivering better quality of life for the electorate. However, the actual results do not confirm that, if we measure the UK’s quality of life by GDP per capita, which has been consistently falling. For example, in 1990, UK’s rank in GDP per capita in the world was 18th, whereas in 2018 it was 26th.

The biggest disadvantage of a single party government seems to be the adversarial nature of politics as was evidenced so plainly during the UK’s Brexit proceedings in the Parliament. This leads by extension to a deep polarization of society, again as the result of Brexit in the UK. But there is even a greater disadvantage that really shows up in the longer term. The adversarial politics based on the majority of one party, which does not have to win the majority of the votes to rule the country, leads to short-term politics and constant swings in policies (no double majority is needed, i.e. the majority of MPs and over 50% of the votes in elections). The whole focus of the government is on winning the next election by tuning its manifesto to temporal whims of the electorate. If we return to Maslow’s two lowest levels of the Pyramid of Needs (physiological and safety needs), that is exactly how people would respond. And that directly translates into the voters’ preferences to elect those, who give more and now – an ideal platform for populism.

The only solution seems to be the balance of power between the governing and the governors. That means that the power of politicians to make decisions on our behalf based on the mandate granted during the elections must be balanced by the citizens’ power to continuously verify how that mandate is executed. The best way to do it seems to be the setting up of the second chamber of the Parliament – the Citizens’ Senate.


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