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How do we punish elected politicians in a more effective way?

(Or at best, how do we avoid voters being willing to punish the whole political class in general?)

To briefly explain what I mean:

Exhibit 1: "In 2010, Gnarr, a stand-up comedian, stood as mayor of Reykjavik. It was a satirical gesture, designed to protest against the political class blamed for miring Iceland in the financial crisis. To his horror, and the horror of the establishment, he won." https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/15/jon-gnarr-comedian-mayor-iceland

Exhibit 2: Recent Italian constitution referendum: "While the reform has some intrinsic merits, the domestic debate is centered on the effort to unseat the prime minister. At the same time, financial markets see the vote as a test of the appetite of reform in the country" http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/30/italys-referendum-explained-what-you-need-to-know.html

Exhibit 3: Holland referendum of 2005 concerning EU constitution: "According to a poll [1] by Maurice de Hond, 30% of the Constitution's opponents used the referendum as an opportunity to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the government, instead of confining their deliberations to the contents of the treaty that was put before them. At the time of the referendum, the Netherlands' centre-right coalition government, led by Jan Peter Balkenende, was suffering a period of unpopularity as it tried to push through cuts in public spending, and there was widespread disillusion with the country's political elite." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_European_Constitution_referendum,_2005

I picked those examples because it is a more clear case then deliberating whether some populist politician got elected to punish the establishment, or maybe indeed to his voters the program was indeed realistic and reasonable.

The problem, that I would like to tackle is the following - voters see a government that in their opinion seriously underperform. Possibility to elect another mainstream party with a not-so-different program seems not specially tempting. There may be also a problem of some undesirable changes that may be beyond blamed politician (either caused by long term changes or external factors), the voters do not bother analyse such minuscule details carefully; they just want to punish the person is in charge for not fixing the problem.

And then a referendum comes (on absolutely unrelated stuff), and they finally have a chance to say this guy in charge or whole political class a big "NO".

Could there be a method to satisfy voters bloodlust ( ;) ) in some way that would not derail unrelated projects or replace already not specially professional establishment with even less competent populist? Some way of punishing politicians and calming down before relevant election / referendum? Or maybe some way to avoid the whole problem in more creative way? Or maybe such few derailed project should be just accepted as collateral damage?

(Assume contemporary tech level; country neutral answer; just something that generally could work in a Western democracy. If there is a way to solve it then I would presumably have to put in the background of my story.)

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    $\begingroup$ I'd vote for whoever can answer this question. Like, in real life, not just an upvote. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Dec 16 '16 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ This feels largely like a real-world politics question and may receive better answers on the Politics SE, but I'm not voting to close (yet). That being said, the problem is a majority of people don't take the time to understand how their government works. Not sure how to fix that. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Dec 16 '16 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre: The trickiest part of answering this is trying to make a governing-system-agnostic answer. Applying the right solution for the USA will give completely different results if you slap it on Norway! $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Dec 16 '16 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ Do you actually want to make it easier to punish people, or do you actually want to make a better government? It sounds like your real problem is not the politicians, but the voters. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Dec 16 '16 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ Suggested reading: "Lone Star Planet" by H. B. Piper. $\endgroup$ – Perkins Dec 16 '16 at 21:22

14 Answers 14

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"Punishing" politicians can be a very slippery slope. Allow me to explain.

Politician X is democratically elected. One problem which a significant portion of the Western World runs into is that citizen votes are not equally weighted. Instead, we each cast our vote for a certain representative in a certain sector, and the party with the most elected representatives wins.

So in practice, in a lot of Western Countries, it's not the most popular politician who gets elected, but the party leader who managed to get the most seats. For example, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won a majority government with something like 39% of the votes. That means that 61% of voters did not support him.

He then goes and implements (to varying degrees) some of the policies which he promised he would. But those policies may very well be upsetting 61% of the voting-age population (if we extrapolate)! Because most of them did not want him to win in the first place.

So at this point, do you "punish" the politician for implementing the policies which got him elected in the first place? Would you make it so that only people who voted for him get to "punish" him? Neither is a good idea because, although his actions may be unpopular with some segment of the population, there is more to all this than meets the eye:

  • Circumstances change all the time, and governing a country is very complex. Maybe his election promise (assuming he made it in good faith) is simply not realistically achievable in the political climate which he inherited. If the leader is constantly afraid of being punished for "not doing what he promised", governments will severely lose effectiveness.

  • Leaders often make decisions based on far more information than the public. Some of that information may be highly specialized and difficult to understand, but it may also be classified. The media, or certain interest groups may spin these decisions as racist, evil, or incompetent, however the leader of the nation can't hesitate to make some of those important decisions simply because he is afraid of being "punished" by the public.

And so, the very concept of "punishing" our leaders is very tricky. They should definitely be held accountable for doing anything illegal, or otherwise manipulating the system for personal gain, etc. However, politics, by its very nature, is a divisive topic, and punishing political leaders simply because you don't agree with their policies or decisions would result in complete chaos, and ineffective governing. In fact, it would lead to nothing more than mob rule, and a complete breakdown of democracy.

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    $\begingroup$ I think you hit the nail on the head and described why you really can't punish an elected official for political decision making. It's why, with the recent US election, rebuke or exaltation is all in the court of public opinion and this probably should be how it has to work. $\endgroup$ – rangerike1363 Dec 16 '16 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ Also important to note that a lot eligible people choose not to vote. This problem is worst in the U.S., I believe. For example, only 68.5% of those eligible to vote in Canada did so in 2015, which means about 27% of the vote-eligible population voted for Trudeau. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Dec 16 '16 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ That means that 61% of voters did not support him. Also important to note is not voting for someone doesn't mean you don't support that person... Hell, these days, a vote for someone doesn't mean you even honestly support that person. How many people voted Trump or Hillary, not because they liked Him/Her - but because they hated the other? How many voted 3rd party (Johnson/Stein) that would, given only 2 choices, honestly support T or H? "61% don't support Candiate X" is a gross over simplification. $\endgroup$ – WernerCD Dec 17 '16 at 1:56
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    $\begingroup$ “In fact, it would lead to nothing more than mob rule” Exactly. The only people willing to hold positions of power would be those who actively punish anyone who gets in their way. E.G. Reporter posts a big leak about current politician's corrupt practices; the next day the reporter has gone missing and numerous other well-regarded public figures call the report a lie and the reporter an extremist. $\endgroup$ – Slipp D. Thompson Dec 17 '16 at 2:36
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    $\begingroup$ This is why many have seen democracies as unstable in the long term. Most modern republics were originally intended to moderate public input, thereby insulated government from the manic swings of a 'fickle public'. $\endgroup$ – CircleSquared Dec 17 '16 at 11:04
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Three procedures applicable and actually applied in democracies:

  • In ancient Athens, ostracism was a procedure in which the citizens could vote to banish somebody for a limited time. There was no need to prove guilt; in was not a trial, but simply a vote. If a majority of voters (but not less than a certain minimum number) vote to send the person away, away they went. While in ancient Athens anybody could be ostracized, it is easily conceivable a similar law applying only to politicians; and in practice ostracism was used mainly against politicians.

  • The same ancient Athenians had another nifty legal procedure, the graphê paranomôn, a lawsuit against a law, or, as we would say in Civil Law countries, an extraordinary recourse in the interest of the law. Any citizen could walk into a court of law and file a suit against a (relatively) recently promulgated law or in general any bill passed by the assembly, declaring it to be unconstitutional. As soon as the suit was filed, the law in question was suspended; the suit was tried by the Heliaia, the supreme court of Athens, which had the authority to rescind the law or bill in question. The defendant was the politician who had proposed the law or bill; if they lost, they had to pay a fine or they could even lose the right to vote and to run for office, and of course the law or bill was rescinded. For added popular appeal, the judges/jurors of the Heliaia were not politicians but ordinary citizens, selected by lot from those citizens who manifested their wish to serve.

  • In our time, Californians (as well as the citizens of other American states) have a legal procedure called a recall election, which allows the citizens to depose the governor. Any citizen may initiate a recall campaign; if they gather a certain number of signatures, the state is compelled to organize a recall election, which is essentially an anticipated election combined with a referendum. Notably, this is how Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of California in 2003, replacing the incumbent Gray Davis who was deposed (or "recalled") by the vote of the citizens.

In states which are not democratic politicians may meet their just desserts by means of much abbreviated procedures...

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  • $\begingroup$ Actually it is close to impossible to make a law which applies "only to politicians". You can make a special law for legislators or government officials. But does it include advisors, fundraisers, campaign volunteers? $\endgroup$ – o.m. Dec 17 '16 at 6:10
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with banishment, especially in a modern society like the one we have nowadays, is that there's really no place to banish most people to. Ancient Athens could kick someone out, and once they were outside the city-state's borders they weren't Athens' problem anymore, but unless you want to dump someone outside territorial waters that's no longer an option and your neighboring countries will not appreciate you dumping your troublemakers on them... $\endgroup$ – Shadur Dec 17 '16 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Shadur: We don't need to copy the physical aspects of banishment, as it would be futile, but we certainly can preserve the logical aspects. For example, for the duration of the banishment the person cannot vote, cannot run for office, cannot serve on the boards of companies, cannot buy or sell real estate and so on. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Dec 17 '16 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ Athens had formal ostracism for only about 120 years, and used it something like eleven times, if memory serves. $\endgroup$ – Anton Sherwood Feb 14 '17 at 6:32
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The main question, do you want to educate the population to use their vote wisely, or do you want to give the mob an outlet for their anger? Since we're on Worldbuilding SE, the site for the setting of fictional stories, I'll focus on the latter.

  • Allow "recall" votes against legislators, governments, and Santa Claus. If the recall gets enough votes, there is a snap election for that position.
  • Make it easier to run a "recall" vote than to vote on any substantive issue. That way, malcontents will cast their against vote directly against the persons they're upset with.
  • Make it easier for legislators to depose governments. A proportional representation system rigged to produce many small parties, plus easy motions of no confidence. So you don't even need a general election to get a new president or prime minister.
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with adding up your three points (recall votes plus deposing a government) is that you end up with something like the Israeli Knesset, where an Israeli government has NEVER managed to finish out a term in more than 50 years and the entire political spectrum is fractured into dozens of tiny, extreme, mostly irrelevant parties. $\endgroup$ – JBiggs Dec 16 '16 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ @JBiggs, for a fictional setting, that may be a feature. I'm not suggesting this for the real world, after all. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Dec 16 '16 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ @o.m. Ah, the Middle East -- site of so many wonderful fiction books. If only they were only fiction books... but I'm beginning to think that all our political systems in the future will be designed only to make good entertainment. It would make a great story if only I weren't living it. $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Dec 17 '16 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ @JBiggs -- The Israeli Knesset has the additional difficulty that about 1/7 of its members refuse to be part of any governing coalition. This effectively requires a 7/12 supermajority (of those willing to be in governing coalitions) to establish (or maintain) a governing coalition. $\endgroup$ – Jasper Dec 17 '16 at 7:09
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"Punishment" may not be the thing you want, but many people consider dealing with the consequences of their decisions to be punishment, so let's use it as a blanket term.

First, you will need to be able to identify what constitutes fault, then how to rectify fault, and thereafter, how to conduct routine maintenance of the issue.

1. Identify what is fault

Faulty systems are those, which produce results that do not satisfy the intentions. So the first step is to clearly define the goals which are imposed on politicians, so that when they endeavour an action which does not benefit the goals, it will be clear. Unfortunately, this will require a rigorous process of evaluation and a considerable literacy on account of the general population.

Besides that, you will need to recognise where exactly the politician is responsible for generating fault. Where there is personal responsibility. The nature of political work is that politicians exercise discretion in order to create and maintain laws. Where did the politician overstep the discretion permitted to them?

2. Rectify fault

Fault creates undesirable circumstances and our duty is to rectify the situation, change the circumstances to desirable ones. Sometimes it is not entirely possible (death is a good example, replacing family members is impossible or maybe rectifying unhinged minds). In any case, there are reasonably predictable ways to make sure there are no further adverse consequences (understandably, a single abused childhood may start the demise of an entire community). So, you will need some way to figure out how to rectify and then make the person responsible for generating fault carry out the rectification. Same way as cleaning up after breaking a coffee mug. You broke it, you clean up.

Political positions are positions of power and their responsibility is management, the government of small and large institutions. Clearly, a politician who is shown to generate fault is not capable of carrying out such responsibility, so there must be management installed to oversee and direct their progress, make sure they don't screw up the rectification.

3. Routine maintenance

With enough data, you can reasonably identify common traits by which people who tend to generate fault can be identified and then prevented from occupying positions of power. Of a person is not unlucky, but is systematically faulty, they are obviously not suitable for power, and should be reassigned to positions which do not involve applications of personal discretion to others' livelihoods.

4. Bonus: systemically-induced fault

Sometimes you will not be facing "one bad apple". Instead, you'll see systemic fault generation, where positions of power attract specifically such people who are not suitable for power. This will happen when such positions are attached to benefits which do not directly relate with the carrying out of responsibilities of the position. Such that for example in the Soviet Union: people who occupied high government positions gained access to special products, such as rare caviar and cold cuts, not available to general public (regardless of available funds). In order to remove this, you will need to disconnect such benefits from positions of power and make them available to people regardless of the nature of their employment.

Corruption and crime are also generated through inability to gain sufficient means to acquire desired benefits by application of one's personal skillset. This means you will need to ensure that everyone's skillset is employed to the fullest: that there is a place for genius extortionists and contortionists in your society alike. If there is not, they will start applying their skillset in illicit ways, which will include conning their way into positions of power and leveraging that power to gain desired benefits.

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    $\begingroup$ This answer to this question need to take into account how to handle situations for which nothing can be done. "The government isn't doing enough to stop this plague!" Well, there may not be anything to do. There may be no solution that satisfies the populace: "We want high speed commutes but we don't want you to raise taxes to build roads!" When the people ask for magic, there's no fault to fix. What then? $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Dec 16 '16 at 22:30
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM ...and in a very real world example of this phenomenon, you have the epic clusterfuck that is California, where the populace (via ballot initiatives) regularly votes FOR expensive new social services and regulations at the same time as they vote AGAINST funding to actually pay for them. Clearly, the only viable solution to the root problem is to kill all the Californians. $\endgroup$ – HopelessN00b Dec 16 '16 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ I think that problem exists ubiquitously. It is much the same in Texas but with infrastructure projects. @HopelessN00b $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Dec 17 '16 at 2:21
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2 options:

  1. Have a "none of the above" option, or count non votes as a vote for none of the above. Establish a threshold %age, and a strong consequence of hitting that threshold.

It has always struck me as strange that in democracies where voting is compulsory you are essentially forced to vote for a candidate, even if you don't want them to represent you. Alternatively in democracies where voting is not compulsory, more than half of the population can choose not to support any candidate, yet some candidate ends up winning.

It seems to me that if >50% (generic round figure) of the population voted "none of the above"/failed to express support for any candidate (or if "none of the above" received more votes than any single candidate), then a new election should be held with new candidates, or the winning candidate is elected but for a reduced (half?) term.

As a circuit breaker to this process (to hedge against perpetual "none of the above" votes) random citizenry are selected for representative duties, similar to jury duty.

  1. Have elections on a policy basis, instead of a party basis.

Let's say there are 5 candidates, who each hold different positions on particular issues. Have a question on the ballot, with people voting for each position (candidate not listed). The candidate who's own positions most closely represent that of the voting public gets the spot (or some similar mechanism). There may need to be some sort of open source/public/bottom up process for generating questions to go on the ballot.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! This is a good first post. Thanks for joining the conversation. $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Dec 17 '16 at 4:14
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    $\begingroup$ There was "against everyone" candidate in ballots in Russia. Sometimes it won the election (sometimes with more than 60% votes) and was representing the whole regions, kinda shows how voters find or not find offered governance legitimate. No re-elections were held, just empty seats representing the region. That option was removed though, so people would not show up instead and let their votes be counted in favour of ruling party. $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Dec 17 '16 at 10:12
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1) Make it a crime for a politician to vote for an obviously illegal law. If a court strikes down a law by at least a 2/3 majority they have the option of declaring that the politicians should have known better.

2) Every year every sitting elected official not up for re-election instead faces a recall vote. Recall votes must state a specific action that was unacceptable and that action must have occurred (or become public knowledge) since the last time that politician faced the ballot box. The reason must be true, definitely possible and asking for something legal. (Thus Obama could not have been kicked out for failing to capture Bin Laden, or, had he captured him, failing to execute him by drawing and quartering.) If a politician gets tossed out this way all his votes since the last election go with him. Laws that were passed but now would fail are immediately struck from the books and all convictions based on them are tossed. (But the people are not eligible for wrongful-conviction compensation.) If a measure would now pass it is treated as having been passed on the date of the recall election and proceeds through the system from that point.

(Note that while on the surface this looks to involve an awful lot of work there's no need to look at the reasons unless the total is over 50% and in that case computers can chuck a lot of bad ballots. When humans analyze the ballots they'll no doubt see invalid reasons and computers could recognize many of them. (For example, chuck any Obama-recall votes with the words "birth certificate" or "Kenya".)

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A good first step might be creating a standard agency similar to many advertising or broadcasting standards agencies. The sole purpose of this agency would be to make sure that things said by politicians (and all circumstances in which they find themselves thereafter) were accurately recorded, noted and weighed against the actions taken by the politician.

While this in itself won't satiate anybodies bloodlust, it will create a situation where many who would otherwise rise to power with no intention of following through on their promises will instead self-select themselves out of a political career.

If you also give people the ability to interact with this agency (IE to lodge complaints of 'they aren't fixing my street fast enough' or 'they said that there would be 37 billion moneys for my city and there isn't' then people will have a course of action to take that isn't just 'vote against the establishment'.

Then make knowingly lying to the public a crime (fraud, perhaps). By this point you should have people in power who genuinely want to make the world a better place/push a specific agenda, and you'll have plenty of information on what they said, to whom, and who doesn't think they're doing their job. If what they're doing matches what they said they would do, or there is evidence that they're at least pushing for it, then they're fine. Disagreements between politicians are expected, disagreements between people and the politicians they elect even more so.

If they've blatantly lied, said they were going to build a million houses and then shown no evidence of actually trying to do so: Bring in the evidence.


The downside to this approach is that the entire thing will then become politicised and used as just another tool in a good politicians arsenal. It completely removes any way for there to be under the table dealmaking and backchannel negotiations(which you may view as either positive or negative, depending upon your political leanings) and will add considerable strain to any governing body.

Oh, and it would cost the taxpayers money, which could be better spent on regulatory bodies for toasters.

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    $\begingroup$ Don't we already have an organization(s) that fact-checks politicians: the news media? They record (almost) everything that goes on and (should) go out of their way to compare current events with those recordings. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Dec 16 '16 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ We currently have organisations that try to push their own agendas/get more people to give them money by selectively reporting facts and trying to be the most 'scandalous'. Not sure it counts as impartial, objective fact checking. There are some groups that try, but they aren't official and may still be trying to push a particular agenda. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Dec 16 '16 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ But if you don't trust dedicated fact checking groups, many of which are non-profits operated by volunteers, because they too "may still be trying to push a particular agenda" what would make your standards agency any different? Surely it'd just be viewed as a self-serving Government department like the rest of them. $\endgroup$ – Luke Briggs Dec 17 '16 at 2:23
  • $\begingroup$ See my comment about the entire thing becoming politicised. :-) $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Dec 17 '16 at 14:57
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The question presupposes that the people as a whole made a bad choice. That presumes that the masses shouldn't have self rule directly -- the ruling class needs to know the people's wishes in order to best fulfill them, but the people are incapable of choosing the actual method of fulfillment.

So, let's work with that.

The easiest answer for me is to offer the people only non-binding votes. Bread and circuses. If your fictional Machiavelli needs the populace to have an outlet for its anger, give them a Brexi... er... I mean... referendum that doesn't commit the government to any action. Then with the full power of your charisma, you can tell the masses, "We hear you are unhappy and we are going to do something to improve it."

It's like being a good lawyer: never ask a question if you don't already know the answer. In this case, never hold a vote that commits you to an action.

But I caution you... many scholars have suggested the best leaders for a republic are those who don't want the job. So maybe the vote in Iceland or elsewhere was actually exactly what needed to happen. Maybe the populace can govern itself. Maybe they really are as racist/mysogenistic/etc as the extremist party they voted for. Never discount the possibility that they know what they do.

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In most parliamentary systems, political parties can vet their own candidates and the elected officials in parliament from a political party who know the potential leaders personally, elect the parliamentary leadership (and critically can eject the parliamentary leaders and replace them with other members of the same party if the rank and file loses faith the parliamentary leadership), so this tends to be less of a problem than in a U.S. style system when an unvetted candidate not backed by the party itself can be elected on that party's ticket.

In most U.S. style systems, politicians are loathe to attack their allies since that turns an incumbency into an open seat which could be lost by the party. Colorado has a system where vacancies in legislative seats are filled by the member's party, which reverses the incentive - your own party pushes you out if you are weak so they can have a stronger candidate when there is an election, while an opposing part wants the weak candidates to stay in so they have ammunition in the next election.

But, since parliamentary systems don't usually give citizens any direct say on the leadership chosen by elected members of parliament, when the parliament elects bad leaders voters have no safety valve to override parliamentary decisions on leadership, and so they use any referendum that comes along.

One tool that is common in the Western U.S. that could focus these issues would be to create a recall election option by filling out a sufficient petition. Then people wouldn't sublimate their efforts to express themselves to other fora. In a parliamentary system, in addition to a recall, there might need to be a way to force a snap election by petition.

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Sometimes the old ways are best. The standard way to punish politicians throughout history has been killing them, and sometimes replacing the whole government or governmental system. (Why not, while you're at it, right?)

Say what you want about the French, but they devised a very effective way punish their political leaders when they'd had enough monarchy.

You can spend a lot of time analyzing and studying the problem here (how to hold those in power accountable for their actions), but ultimately, fundamentally, you encounter a very large, mostly unresolvable problem in that people are self-interested, and people in power have the means to protect themselves by virtue of being in power. So at a very basic level, it's nearly impossible to do what you want to do "within the system," precisely because those in power use the system to protect themselves. In modern times, that means a massive government and the resources of millions of people they can levy to their defense. Therefore, if you want a way to actually, effectively punish those in power at any kind of scale, you have little option but to burn the system down with them... at which point, you can round them up and cut off their heads, or levy whatever other punitive measures you have in mind.

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Skin in the game

Pay them at wages competitive with private industry -- contingent on good performance. And then, have the voters decide that by popvote.

Or whatever. I'm just looking for a pretense to have a tickable box on the ballot specifically for venting approval/disapproval of the government -- so they don't misuse the category where they select Candidate Blue or Candidate Orange.

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Politicians are a product of society, in the same way physicians, teachers, etc. Punish does not solves anything, and can make it worse; one focus on politicians beacause, the greater the power, the more obvius the weaknesses and corruption.

The most effective way is to truly and sincerely commit with sanitize society. Starting with self, but not stopping there. Before blaming politicians of corruption (which is not only stole money), stop doing corrupted acts and take actions in order to those around us stop doing it, as well.

Example: If someone suspect that his/her children cheat at school, comfront it so (s)he understands and recognizes the error, and rectify it; And talk to the authorities, seeking avoind future cheats.

At the same time, one must seek, all the time, for better controls. Politicians must have a contract with objective goals (specifiying objective measure methods). And it they can't achieve them, must resign or be dismissed (and can be candidates again with other objectives, as long as they don't perpetuate).

And how avoid that some sociopath inadvertently takes control and then it is too late? Well, because commitment within political structures is a fundamental part of any commitment for a better society. As a quote atributed to Pluto said: The penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by the worst men.

Every people must engange in some sort of political activity, say one hour a week at least. It can be control some politician's act, design something, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ > start with yourself Corrupted politicians telling regular folks to stop being corrupted are cute. How exactly does that work? Do non-corrupted people form a new country with their new, uncorrupted police protecting anyone who stops paying taxes to old, corrupted administration? Because if you only mean voting then result gets exactly what OP describes - sticking it to the administration on every occasion, no matter how irrelevant or bizarre. Also, politicians' promises are not binding. $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Dec 17 '16 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ Who said that corrupted politcians would say it, @Daerdemandt? It must emerge form society it self, as a ideological movement. $\endgroup$ – ESL Jan 3 '17 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ Because they do it already. If corruption is rampant, being squeaky-clean in law's eyes is not only placing oneself at a disadvantage but also often impossible. If the law would be gamed against you no matter what you do, not gaming it in turn looks pretty stupid. Hence, everybody is technically criminal but people don't usually get prosecuted for everyday stuff. However, once someone gets righteous about government officials not abiding the law, he can be easily thrown behind the bars and the whole thing would be by the law. $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Jan 3 '17 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ They can't put everybody behind bars. Also, it is important to understand that corruption is a common tendence in humans. So, it would be a naive approach to think about corrupt people vs. non-corrupt people. You must think about less corrupted people. $\endgroup$ – ESL Feb 14 '18 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ So, if it start as a cultural movement (as I proposed), it could be (just an example), that once you join you have a "trial period" on the movement after that you should stay clean on at least a list of things. And that if you break it (because we're humans, we fail often), you accept the punishment. $\endgroup$ – ESL Feb 14 '18 at 16:09
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Allow voters to vote in a special advisor to the leader. Once a year there would be an election where advisors pushing for certain agendas can run for this role. Voters get to vote yes/no on each advisor. Once elected the leader would be obligated to meet with the advisor on a regular basis and report on progress. This advisor would server for 6 months and could be highly annoying to the leader during that time. Over 50% of the voters would have to approve of the advisor, to prevent intentional harassment of leaders by voters that don't really care about an issue.

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Make it illegal for anyone to run for office who hasn't written a legally binding contractual list of promises, e.g. if I get into office I will reduce unemployment to 5% by 2018. Something quantifiable and easily measured.

If they do not fulfil their contract the wronged party (the public) can take legal action against the politician, starting with removing them from office but being anything in the normal range of civil actions / torts, etc. (e.g. probably fines, prohibitions against running for office again, etc.) If a politician had to publicly state which campaign promises they were or weren't prepared to add to their contract you'd get a lot less of the promising-the-earth style politics that can see any prat end up in office.

Accountability in short, the kind of accountability businesses have to provide but governments don't. After all, you wouldn't sign up for a monthly broadband contract without knowing the provider was legally obligated to actually provide you with working broadband, as long as you pay your bill. Why shouldn't it be the same for governments if you're paying your taxes?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm assuming this is not being applied to the real world as it wouldn't work at all - in order to make a guarantee, you have to be able to predict something with near 100% accuracy. Countries are intensely complex systems that are completely unpredictable; companies - virtually all of which are basically dictatorships - are far easier to control/ predict. Your system would result in every politician being hit with a lawsuit because something they wanted to happen simply became impossible by no fault of their own. E.g. Global recession caused by a US housing bubble. Many promises were broken. $\endgroup$ – Luke Briggs Dec 18 '16 at 4:50

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