On 26 October 2016, the independent Commission on Parliamentary Reform was established by the Presiding Officer to look at how the Scottish Parliament can engage better with the people of Scotland and how its work can be improved to deliver better scrutiny.
These are some notes I’ve made to guide my input to the Commission’s evidence session on 25th November 2016. They outline ideas, questions and arguments to inform democratic innovation at the Scottish Parliament.
Click here so see more information about the Commission, how it works and how to contribute.
Democracy can always be made better. And with constitutional change high on the agenda, a referendum on independence expected in 2014 and the technology available to really scrutinise those that seek and hold power, this is the right time for Scotland to take stock and consider its democratic future.
Scotland’s Democracy has changed a lot since the establishment of our parliament in 1999. There have been strides such as reform of Local Government Elections and there have been ongoing improvements in openness, accessibility and transparency, but we still suffer many of the democratic deficits that affect the rest of the UK.
The Democracy Max programme
Over the next year our aim is to set out a vision of the ‘Good Scottish Democracy’, Democracy-Max, if you will.
The Electoral Reform Society Scotland, in collaboration with a range of partners including Edinburgh University’s Public Policy Network, is organising a series of roundtables and public events to debate issues of democracy within the changing political environment in which Scots live.
The events will be a non-partisan space where those with different views can debate and discuss Scotland’s future and where political rhetoric can be challenged and unpicked.
To open this series of events the Electoral Reform Society Scotland held a deliberative People’s Gathering for Scots to listen and share their perspective on democracy and the constitution and to identify what concerns they themselves want to see addressed as part of the Inquiry.
Find out more about the Demo Max programme, watch a video, and download the reports HERE.
Sign up for our next public event on 4th of December 2012 HERE.
A working lunch organised by Public Policy Network and So Say Scotland
30 March, 1.15-3pm, University of Edinburgh
This is a unique opportunity to listen to first hand testimony about one of the most remarkable processes of citizen participation of our time. If you are interested in democratic innovation and participatory politics, you will not want to miss this session about the current citizen-driven constitutional reform in Iceland. The Citizen Participation Network (PPN) and So Say Scotland invite you to a working lunch with Prof. Thorvaldur Gylfason. Thanks to the Icelandic Embassy for making his visit possible.
In January 2009 when the Icelandic people brought their parliament down in what was called the ‘pots and pans’ revolution, the question of ‘how fit is the constitution?’ was quick to many lips. Understanding the vested interests at play there was a feeling that the review process had to be transparent and participative if it had any chance of the necessary reforms sticking.
The process was designed in 3 parts:
1. A Constitutional Committee was appointed with 7 people to supervise
2. The convening of a National Assembly, 1000 random sample of the population meeting for a day of broad brush brain storming.
3. Then a Constitutional Assembly was called -with public voting for the 25 seats, 523 candidates stood- to work detail into the broad-brush strokes.
The four months of work of the Constitutional Assembly was delivered transparently, meetings were webcast, proposed articles were posted online with public comment invited and considered in the amending process. The resulting revised constitution was agreed unanimously by the Constitutional Assembly, and is now proposed to go to a national referendum later this year.
Thorvaldur Gylfason, an economics professor, and member of the Constitutional Assembly (elected with the most votes) will talk us through the process, where things stand now, and potential lessons for Scotland and the international community.