Sunday, 10 March 2019

Czech philanthropist exports own-developed election system

16 June 2015

Prague, June 15 (CTK) - Czech billionaire philanthropist Karel Janecek has proposed a new system of elections, Democracy 2.1 (D21), which has been praised as noteworthy by experts at prestigious world universities and which might be implemented in practice in Tunisia, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes Monday.

Janecek, a mathematician and owner of the RSJ firm dealing in financial derivatives, has poured over 100 million crowns in the search for ways to make the Czech state more effective for and friendly to the citizens, LN writes.

First, Janecek launched the Endowment Fund Against Corruption in 2011. Afterwards he started to work on ways to remove systemic flaws of the Czech political system, LN writes.

In 2013, he developed D21, a new election system whose main principle is that the voter has two times more votes than the number of the contested mandates. In addition, the voter has a "minus" vote to make it clear which candidate they do not wish elected, the daily writes.

Before promoting D21 in the Czech Republic, Janecek started to offer it to the world first, the daily writes, adding that D21 has been appreciated by experts at world universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.

Voters have had even an opportunity to try D21 in practice - in local elections in Ricany, a small town near Prague, and in New York, USA, the paper writes.

Now it is to be implemented in Tunisia, in the regional polls at first, it adds.

Janecek has invested 40 million crowns in the development of D21, on which 30 people have been working, the daily writes.

"From the beginning, I've sought a change to the [Czech] political climate. I have never understood the irrationality of the functioning of the state and its companies," Janecek is quoted as saying.

"After a year of my anti-corruption fund's operation, I realised that the primary cause of the problem is not corruption itself but the people in power. They allow themselves to be manipulated, they lust for power, they are crooks who seek nothing but their own good," Janecek said.

He says voters should have a chance to mark the names of the most unpopular candidates on the slate in order to prevent their election.

Moreover, they should be in a closer contact with election candidates. This can be achieved by reducing the size of the election wards, which should be two-mandate in the optimal case. In the small wards, people would vote for concrete candidates, not for political parties as is the case now, the daily writes.

"I did not want a purely majority election system, in which a single mandate is usually contested in each ward. I find two mandates ideal, in view of the need of representativeness combined with the stability of governments," Janecek said.

"D21's most important element is its effect of more votes. It enables voters also to choose a candidate whom they like but who represents a party they do not like much. Emphasis will be put on personalities," Janecek is quoted as saying.

He said he would recommend the "minus vote" principle to most countries, except for those with a religious or ethnic majority, where people could use it expediently against the minority.

According to Janecek, D21 may work as a defence against extremism. Having more votes, a voter may support candidates from several democratic parties, while an extremist party's fan would always support their favourite extremist party only.

"Under the present [Czech proportional] election system, extremist parties' voters have a stronger influence than they would have under D21," Janecek pointed out.

He said D21 would probably help the candidates from small and new parties.

Janecek said Tunisia, from where his new wife comes, is an ideal opportunity for D21 to prove itself as beneficial.

"The Tunisian parliament committee in charge of elections has asked our team for consultations regarding elections and election systems. As a result, Tunisia might be the first country to apply D21 in practice," Janecek said.

If the project succeeds abroad, Janecek is ready to seek its introduction in the Czech Republic as well. He would address the Czech intellectual elite with the aim to promote D21's values and advantages.

The Czech implementation of D21 would require a change to the constitution. It speaks about the proportional election system, while D21 is a mixed one, combining majority and proportional elements.

Janecek says he originally did not expect D21 to generate any financial profit, but now it seems to be a promising business.

"We cooperate with a Czech bank for which we are developing software," Janecek told LN and added that he hopes in the return of the invested money.

Addressed by LN, political scientists said they would not comment on D21 before it is implemented in practice.

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