“The Other Party” wants to decentralize rule and power in Great Britain through blockchain technology and is officially running as a party.
The “Other Party” says it is neither right nor left. It wants to redefine “the democratic process” by “allowing direct participation in legislation and political decision-making that bypasses the traditional political apparatus.” Blockchain should help with this.
Dom Ryder, the party’s founder, states that the party’s mission is to “take centralized power out of the hands of politicians and put it back into the hands of the people.” The party, according to the website, “wants that Politicians should be removed from politics and the public should be allowed to decide for themselves.” Democracy in Great Britain is alive and well – everywhere but in the halls of Westminster.
In the future, the will of the many should no longer be placed in the hands of the few. Instead, through the blockchain, “every vote should be heard and counted and every decision should be transparent and incorruptible.” You can imagine this vision so that it is no longer politicians voting in a parliament, but citizens via an app. In pre-digital times, this would never have been technically possible; Today we have the opportunity to at least try it. Wouldn’t an ultimate democracy app where you can vote on anything be the perfect medicine for the widespread disenchantment with democracy? And wouldn’t the ongoing choice of individual decisions make democracy less corruptible and manipulable, since neither (bribable) individuals nor major elections (which can be influenced by social media) have excessive influence?
Everyone wants digital democracy. However, all experts who have studied digital elections agree that they are fraught with dangers. They open up endless opportunities for manipulation, vote buying and hacks to bury democracy. Therefore, governments use such procedures extremely rarely and hesitantly, instead sticking to the inefficient and complex but proven system of paper democracy.
So a lot depends on the technical setup. How does the Other Party plan to do this? And how does she use the blockchain?
First, it wants to issue a “governance passport,” which is an NFT or other token on a blockchain. Eligible voters can obtain this through a “Proof of Residency”. There are, the party website assures, “various options for proving that you are a resident or citizen of the United Kingdom.” No personal details are stored on the blockchain, you remain completely anonymous, the token only proves that you are eligible to vote.
That sounds good in itself. Such a token could actually enable secure, incorruptible and anonymous voting. However, in order to be trustworthy, this method definitely needs more transparency and audits by experts. Can you get multiple such tokens? Is there any way to check whether this is happening? For example, is a hash of the name and address or something like that stored? Do you have to trust people who check your ID?
In addition: You can store the tokens in your wallet. The party’s website recommends a wallet like Metamask, which is probably why the tokens run on Etheruem. Can you also sell them? Are there mechanisms to prevent this? Are tokens that have been transferred more than once no longer valid? Are they Soulbound tokens that cannot be transferred at all? And is there any answer to someone selling their keys? The other party should definitely clarify such questions.
The passport allows you to submit suggestions and cast votes on the blockchain. “An infrastructure, suggestion and voting mechanisms have already been built on the blockchain,” explains the party. But first the governance passports should be issued. The electoral system will follow later this year.
But first, the Other Party is asking people to volunteer – or donate. Anyone who sends money to the party also receives a “Proof of Donation” (POD): a token on the Ethereum blockchain that can be collected or traded for other tokens. As is appropriate, the Other Party discloses the address of the smart contract for the POD on the website, which is a good sign that they are serious about transparency.
Party founder Dominic Ryder is a blockchain developer. With VEMP, he has formed a platform that allows people to create and invest in blockchain games; The VEMP tokens can be staked. To do this, he has built a DeFi platform with the Alvara protocol on which assets can be held across blockchains but in a single basket.
The idea is likeable, the implementation so far seems transparent and plausible, and Dom Ryder seems to be too technical to be able to do this. However, reinventing democracy is a fairly large project that goes far beyond a not-so-well-known DeFi protocol, and which, as it becomes more concrete, will face vigorous opposition from an entire political class. Dominic Ryder will hardly be prepared for this. So I wouldn’t bet on its success.
However, one can hope that the Other Party will bring the issue to the public and provide some proof-of-concepts. Even if there is still a long way to go before such methods make it to the federal or parliamentary level, there is not much that speaks against them, such as local or regional decisions – say, the construction of a train line, the placement of a barbecue area, the selection of trees in an avenue – to at least tentatively move to blockchain-based direct voting. If there is the will for it.