Thanks for the comment. Your proposed solutions make good sense, and I’ll respond to them in turn.

A better educated electorate cannot be a bad thing in a democracy. Anyone who wants can find plenty of fact-checked information, so that is not the problem. But I’m not sure more education will make all that much difference. It might produce more empowered voters (the Dutch “mondig” doesn’t translate all that wel), but even with the facts, voters may still lack the wisdom and the competence to use them to come to a reasoned conclusion.

Also, in other areas (such as financial literacy) more education has not proved to be a very successful strategy, and incentives and behavioural interventions tend to be more effective. (I’m certainly not advocating incentivizing voters to vote one way or another though!)

Referendums might work better for less complex questions for sure – they would not push voters so much towards “don’t know and don’t care”, and keep away from the sad tribalism of the EU referendum.

But for complex issues, a parliamentary democracy is a safer bet – and that is precisely where safety is needed. In my country of birth, constitutional change is made over two consecutive parliaments, and requires a 2/3 majority. This is a pretty good way for avoiding impulsive decisions which lead to serious regret.

If you must use direct democracy, using similar parameters would be quite interesting:

  • have it in two rounds, inviting half the electorate (selected at random) for the first round, and the other half for the second round some time later
  • require not just a simple majority of the votes cast, but a 50% of the entire electorate (including those who don’t vote) for a change to the status quo

The real problem here is the collapse (especially among those inclined to vote Leave) of trust in ‘experts’ (which I will write more about).

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Accidental behavioural economist in search of wisdom. Uses insights from (behavioural) economics in organization development. On Twitter as @koenfucius

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