Let’s, for a moment, travel into the future. Destination: the Senate chamber, Washington, D.C., 2040. What do we see? A silent row of monitors displaying initiatives, votes, and decisions – think today’s stock exchanges but for politics. Senators are gone, individual voters discuss and decide laws directly via “democracy software” and their constitutionally guaranteed internet connection (Netflix-subscription not included).
Depending on your viewpoint this might sound utopian or dystopian but first real-world experiments with liquid democracy are already underway. The most prominent example is Germany’s Piratenpartei. Founded as an offshoot of Sweden’s Pirate Bay-inspired “Pirate Party”, this self-declared “party of the information society” won seats in four state parliaments over the past three years and is now looking to enter the Bundestag (Germany’s parliament) in the upcoming federal elections. Die Piraten (as they are called in German) support a civil right of online privacy, reforms to copyright, direct democracy, and, a little bit more surprisingly, unconditional basic income for citizens.