A new political party in Australia wants to replace the existing political system with a system that allows people to vote using bitcoin, according to Reuters. The Flux Party believes that voters can use bitcoin to grant votes on legislative proposals. It believes bitcoin will enable representative democracy in the information age.
The party’s goal is to elect six senators who will not propose policies but will vote on legislation at the direction of their members, who will deliver votes on every bill online.
“If they didn’t have to be senators, if they could just be software or robots they would be, because their only purpose is to do what the people want them to do,” Flux Party co-founder Max Kaye told Reuters.
Redistribution Of Political Power
Flux describes itself as a layer for the redistribution of political power. When a Flux candidate is elected, they become a “gateway for voters to directly influence parliament,” according to the party website. Unlike other representatives, its candidates are not autonomous; their votes are directed by Flux participants.
The first step is to distribute votes. Seats held by Flux are split among participants, including regular voters and other parties, fairly for each issue. Each participant has one vote for each bill.
Next, the participants can swap votes with one another, allowing them to gain votes for the issues they care about. Flux will automate this process.
The final step is the actual voting. Participants cast their votes, and the elected Flux officials relay these votes proportionally to parliament.
Participants can also choose to give their votes to a community leader or another political party.
Participants are free to save their votes for those issues they want to vote on.
The system provides a platform for issue-based politics, which is not possible in “the generalist Westminster system,” the website states. It allows projects of any length to be undertaken without interruption by the changing political landscape. Policy can be accomplished by dedicated individuals beyond regular three-year election cycles.
The website describes the system as an incremental upgrade to democracy designed to redistribute political power, maximize participation and empower voters.
Australia’s upper house has a history of returning fringe party candidates; at least one has been elected by less than one percent of the vote.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week noted there could be an early poll to break a gridlock that has stalled the government’s legislative agenda.
Kaye and Flux co-founder Nathan Spataro said the government’s policy inertia inspired them to explore alternative systems that would better represent today’s world. They believe bitcoin is the missing link between representative democracy and “Democracy 2.0.”
Representative democracy liberated people from monarchies in the beginning, but now it has become “this monster,” Spataro said. Democracy in its original form was not designed for the modern world.
Bitcoin Expert Has Doubts
Dr. Adrian Lee, a bitcoin expert at the University of Technology Sydney, said bitcoin’s strength is from its ability to build trust through the ease of verification and from removing human frailty from the equation.
However, Lee said he has not seen a party that would vote via the blockchain. If you could replace politicians with bitcoin, the system the Flux Party proposes would work, but this is not possible. He said there is no legally-binding mechanism to make Flux senators vote as directed.
Flux’s idea is for members and single-issue campaigners who agree to support the party at the election are given bitcoin-like tokens that they can trade or give to interest groups or experts they trust to vote as their proxy.
The outcomes would be proportionately distributed. If 80% vote for a bill and 20% oppose, five Flux senators would vote in favor while one would vote against.
The Flux Party obtained the required support of 550 registered voters and filed registration papers with the Australian Election Commission last month. The website claims it has 1,009 members.
Peter Chen, a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Sydney, called the Flux Party “delightfully naïve people.” He said they are the modern version of utopian political system designers.
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