Simpol - Making Individual Voices and Votes Count in the Global Arena

The Problem

Global warming, economic recession and the financial crisis are just some of the complex global issues at stake in this new century. In recent years, however, publics across the world have watched on helplessly as a plethora of international conferences have been convened where heads of states, ministers, CEOs and other leading decision-makers have gathered to deliververy limited practical action focused on addressing these challenges in a concerted manner. A key aspect of this failure is linked to the ‘global’nature of such problems, and the corresponding effect on political will in the domestic arena. Individual governments are reluctant to bear the risk of ‘first-mover’ status in the absence of coordinated policy implementation at the international level, fearing the displeasure of global markets and the potential loss of investmentand jobs to other nations.

The Idea

Simpol (‘simultaneous policy’) overcomes the paralysis described above by bringing together all nations to sign a Pledge to simultaneously implement Simpol - a range of democratically designed regulations to bring about economic justice, environmental security and peace around the world. By adopting Simpol, its supporters pledge to vote in future national elections for any political party or candidate - within reason - that pledges to implement Simpol alongside other nations.

As more and more citizens act in this way, politicians will have to sign the Pledge if they wish to remain in office. Adopting Simpol involves no risk because simultaneous implementation removes everyone’s fear of first-mover disadvantage. Simpol thus transcends party politics by providing a powerful tool for citizens to drive politicians and governments to deliver the measures that require global buy-in as a point of departure.

Supporters are invited to design, propose, refine, negotiate and ultimately approve Simpol’s policies themselves. In this process, they may take advantage of policies already developedby NGOs, or may choose instead to take advantage of independent policy experts. The policies being developed remain strictly provisional until sufficient international consensus for their implementation has been achieved. In this way, Simpol’s policy content remains flexible, democratic and globally inclusive. Put another way, the Simpol initiative is an attempt to institute perhaps the first genuine form of global electoral politics from the ground up.

Potential Impact

Simpol head, John Bunzl, has acknowledged that the initiative may at first glance seem unrealistic, but counters by asking how successful or effective present international attempts at solving global problems have been - and how successful are they likely to be in the future? With conventional approaches failing on the basis of a disconnectbetween international treaty-making and national politics, as well as the disincentives created by a single-issue approach to multilateral negotiations, the potential impact of Simpol derives from its capacity to offer citizens a way to use their votes to drive politicians to cooperate globally, in additionto offering a multi-issue policy framework that allows nationsthat may lose on one issue to gain on another. To date, Simpol has over 5,000 supporters across 70 countries, with an expectation of ‘tens of thousands’ supporters by 2017.

Social Value

First and foremost, the Simpol initiative is concerned with addressinga democratic deficit at the level of international policy though the strategic, coordinated use of existing democractic processes at the domestic level. Beyond the individual policies constituting Simpol’s global platform, therefore, the movement has a deeper social value in its potential ability to engage and empower citizens who have otherwise grown disillusioned and disconnected from global policy issues. Similarly, many NGOs and campaigning organisations already have well thought out global policies to deal with climate change, oil depletion and other problems, but at the same time lack a viable political means for advancing them to the point of implementation in a globalized world.

As a result, these organizations are increasingly seeing the Simpolcampaign as a vehicle for driving politicians and nations towards a more productive form of cooperative implementation. They are increasingly recognizing that if politicians do not have the unilateral power to deal substantively with global problems, then citizens must logically take the lead both in designing the necessary policies, and in using their collective voting power to drive politicians to implement them simultaneously.

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  • avatar
    Robert Ertl November 14 2012, 17:16

    the best, helps all human beings!

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