Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rwanda Constitution

Rwanda Constitution

In honor of Jacob Srebanize coming to my university, Western Illinois University, to give the University Theme Lecture, I read up on the Rwanda constitution. And from a participatory democracy point of view, it and its development, has blogworthy features.

I presume that all the readers know of the horrible features of the genocide involving Hutu and Tutsi tribes. Political parties are prohibited from "basing themselves on race, ethnic group, tribe, clan, region, sex ... or any other division which\may give rise to discrimination." Yet sadly, this clause was used to suppress other parties, There is a provision where the Senate can lodge a complaint against a political organization with the High Court and appealable to the Supreme Court, and they can dissolve the organization. If this happens, all their members of parliament lose their term.

Interestingly enough both the Chamber of Deputies and senate have reserved seats.

  1. women (24 out of 79 deputies)] 30 percent of the senate
  2. two members of the Deputies elected by the National YOuth councel
  3. One deputy representing the disabled.
  4. four members elected from a group of political parties. the constitution provides for this organization
  5. two reserved positions for faculty members

The "P)resident of the republic" may call a referendum. We saw this in use in Iceland relating to the bailout of the banks.

Gawanga cites Kirsti Samuels in that after the break from a conflict or authority, there are likely to be participatory constitution making processes and these helpful in legitimizing the constitution and bring the citizen ry together.

Article 45, "Every citizen have the right to participate in the governance of the country, whether directly or through freely chosen represenatives.."

Acorcding to Gasamagera, the creation of the Constitution was done with much consultation with the citizenry (through questionnaires) and with input from civil society. In fact the limitations on parties was done on the basis of the "people's wish" in response to the genocide. They simply did not want political parties. Also,the provisions regarding women having 30 per cent of the seats was put in at the people's request. and at the time of writing Rwawnda has 49% of its parliament women and is the highest in the world.

Also western advisors on constitutions were rejected, because the constitution should be developed by the people.

Participatory democracy is used to deal with genocide trial, 825,000 cases, which could not be managed by conventional means. The term is GACACA.

Gamasara also mentions the participatory democracy aspects of designing the flag, national anthem and national logo.


  1. to be blogged later, Kirsti Samuesl 2006, Paradoxes and Compromises in the design of Post Conflict constitutions Research Partnership in Postwar State building, website at
  2. The Constitution Making Process in Rwanda: Lessons to be Learned by Senator Gasamagera Wellars, Senator at the seventh Global Forum for Reinventing Governmment, Vienna 26-29 June 20067
  3. Constitution of Rwanda
  4. Wikipedia Article on Rwandan Constitution

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Miscellaneous referendum news

Switzerland, November 24th, will vote on a referendum prohibiting any business from paying anyone more than twelve times the salary of their lowest earners. Also, there will be a referendum on a minimum wage of 2500 Swiss Franks. ("regardless of whether or not they have a job.") And a short time ago, a referendum passed to eliminate golden hellos and good byes.
Financial Times "Swiss Referendum on Wages of iIgh Earners Stirs Debate" by James Shotter November 12th

Coed Bathroom Law Referendum-- 620,000 signatures have been collected. If passed, it would overturn a law about coed bathrooms.

Cash Shortage in China

Many business are exchanging IOU's, guaranteed by banks, instead of paying their bills in cash. Also banks are extending loans rather than declaring them nonperforming. (Note that China's total money supply is is 110 trillion yuan (about 18 trillion dollars). And their total corporate debt is 145% of GNP with interest payments being nine percent of GNP--more than the US. Total debt is 210 per cent.) of which sixteen percent are these IOUS. Less than a quarter of business surveyed report having access to bank credit. (Although ocassionally these are electronically, most of the the time they are real paper. Each company that eøxchanges them puts their seal on them, sometimes attaching a piece of paper if there is not enough room for all the seals.)

"With Yuan Scarce, Firms Get Stuck with IOUs" Wall Street JournalFriday, April Fourth 2014 page C1 and C2.

China's Minsky Moment by John Mauldin

Parks Referendum

Portland is having a referundum on whether to sell part of a park. This editorial argues that referendums increases polarization rather than reduces it. The referendum will prevent the City Council from giving up any of its park land; editorial says that :
If the accountable elected leaders can’t be trusted to weigh the various factors that make a city livable, then who is?

This election is not a choice between good guys and bad guys – it’s about what process we want to use to make decisions that don’t lend themselves to yes-or-no answers."

Referendum Process Referendum

The city of Springfield, Missouri attempted to make several changes in the referendum process in one Yes/no vote. It narrowly failed. And in learning about YES/NO votes, they decided to split this into several votes. But they did not consider relationships between them. ``

Spain wants Monarchy Referendum

62 of Spaniards want a referendum "at some point" to decide onthe future of the monarchy. I read in Spanish class that the king who just abdicated was very instrumental in bringing in democracy denying the wishes of the dictator Franco who picked him to continue his dictatorship after he died. Yet polls say the vote would be 49% in favor of the monarchy with 32% against. The prime minister argued that the Constitution which set up a ceremonial monarchy was approved overwhelmingly by the people. (But I bet it was a take-it-or-leave-it vote. Wikipedia article on Spanish Constitution referendum says that vote was 91% yes; there was no indication of any options, just yes or no.)

College Debt by Share Mechanism

Federal "Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan" expands and it is anticipated that five million would be eligible. All federal loans are subject to a program where monthly payments are fifteen percent of after-tax income. However, unlike share economy paradigm, it is forgiven after twenty-five years, ten years if the person works in the public sector. The "Pay as You earn repayment Plan" applies to those with loans going to 2007 and earlier, and the rates are lower (only ten percent of monthly income and forgiveness comes after twenty years). And if the participants income rises, they can switch back, possibly automatically, to the ten-year plan. Six hundred thousand student loan borrowers have defaulted. 40% of college students don't graduate in six years. 45% of those who did graduate had jobs that did not require a degree.

Lumni is a private company doing this--so far with five thousand students. I researched this myself. The bankruptcy code states that student loan debt is not dischargeable; thus one can't get a student loan, declare bankruptcy, then enjoy one's high income. However, this only applies to something guaranteed by a non-profit. So a bank, or an individual investor, who does an income-share agreement with a college student can be stymied by the person declaring bankruptcy. Lumni are mostly active in South America; they are working with House of Representative members to give these agreements legal significance. Probably, the agreements would be required to limited to thirty years, to have an exemption for those earning under ten thousand dollars, and "not dictate career choices." I have a problem with the thirty-year limit. One or more fourty-year olds might support some college students. After thirty-years, the loaners would probably still be enjoying their retirement and wanting the income and the students would be in their highest earning years.

By the way, they were inspired by another income-share agreement. David Bowie sold shares in future revenue to finance his income. Milton Friedman also briefly mentioned the idea of income shares.

College Debt: Easing the Burden, Saturday/Sunday June 14-15 2014 B7 and B9, Wall Street Journal Volume CClXIII B1 138.

"Escaping the Student Debt Trap" Saturday/Sunday June 14-15 2014 The Wall Street Journal Page A11

Monday, March 24, 2014

India and Israel


"Why Everyone is Afraid of Arvind Kejriwal" by Dhiraj Nayyar India Today International. October 12 2012,Volume V, Number 44, Pages 12 to 17
Jatin Gandhi, "The Man Who could have been Kejriwal" India Today International January 20 2014
AAP Effect, by Kunai Pradham, INDIA Today International , January 20th, 2014, page 14 to
Wikipedia Page on Aam Aadmi Party.

Arvind Kejriwal is an anti-corruption fighter who is building a new poliitcal party, "India Against Corruption" or Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). He is known for naming and accusing of corruption, prominent politicians and their families. He is in favor of decentralization: "gram sabhas" and urban neighborhoods. The "decisions must be taken by the people and not 'experts' or 'officials' ' a direct democracy' However, his documents would reverse the free-market shift in the last two decades of India. Their Visio document does say that "development cannot be guided by the 'logic of capital' or forces of the 'free market' and Guidance should be given by the 'need of the last person.'

Raul Gandhi is also pushing to involve more people in the Congress Party, the "Grand Old Party" of India.

The AAP has come to power in Delhi. And 75% of Indians would like a Chief Minister like Arvind Kejriwal in their state. 43% are interested in their anti-corruption campaign and only one per cent believe in the "decentralization" ideas. These go back to Swaraj, advocated by Mahatma Gandhi, calling on a stateless society. Mr. Gandhi believed that a representative democracy would be unjust.

Israel Two-State solution

The son of the West Bank Palestinian President, Tareq Abbas, says that a two-state solution is impossible. 65% of Palestinians over fifty support a two-state solution; 47% of those 18 to 34 support this. One of the issues is demographics. There will be more Palestinians than Jews in a single state. But the Jews are concerned about being outvoted, a problem is any constitution that specifies a simple majority vote to pass legislation. In my discussion of Arab/Israel peace talks,, I talk about using max of min to determine an agreement, whether it be a constitution for a single state or a peace agreement between two states. (Max of min, means for each proposal, determine which group gives it the minimum number of aye votes. The one whose minimum is the largest is the one that is effective.) In the Constitution Construction Kit, I discuss systems for multi-ethnic voting. . These prevent one ethnic group from dominating government decisions, regardless of whether that group may have more voters or residents than the other.

"Generations Divide on a Two-State Solution" Wednesday March 19th 2014, Page A6 and A7, New York Times Volume CLXII No 56445.