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Srbija 2020

Political Lessons from Big Brother

As Serbia's elections draw nearer and the number and prevalence of political faces in the media grow, I can't help wondering if these coming elections will be another disappointing democratic display. Over the coming weeks we will be assaulted by media image after media image, as political propagandists fight for the votes of an increasingly apathetic Serbian public. People just can't seem to get fired up by elections; they are disappointed by the process and the outcome. Few people seem genuinely satisfied by democracy. And it's not just Serbia that has been infected by this apathy, far from it; political apathy seems to be pervasive amongst all democratic nations. So is there a crisis in democracy or a crisis in the elections that determine the shape of democracy?

Democracy might be failing but what are the alternatives? Alternative political systems have been tried, tested and largely failed. There are no acceptable alternatives to direct elections and freedom of speech. These are rights that have been fought for over generations and should not be surrendered. It is essential that despite its faults, of which there are many, we should always seek to oppose the re-emergence of alternatives to democracy. Only democracy has the potential to truly express the will of the people but that potential has been largely degraded by dissatisfaction with those who govern in the name of democracy. But we have opted to express our distaste and anger at the failure of democracy by rejecting and not embracing the ballot box.

The problem with democracies imperfect system is that it is dependent upon us accepting one of the alternatives and not rejecting all of them. By opting to reject all of them and the political system as a whole, we are de facto accepting the system and other people's nominations. It is a shame that we can't adopt a Big Brother-style system whereby we can vote to evict one of the alternatives from the political system. If we also gave politicians the ability to nominate evictees it would get really interesting. Which politicians did their colleagues most want to see the back of? Perhaps they could restore some of our faith in democracy by ridding us of some of the very politicians who have created the crisis in democracy.

The producers of BB obviously thought this system through when they decided upon the process of evictions. They knew that it would be easier to harness negative feelings towards contestants than positive ones. People were more likely to pick up the phone to demand the removal of a contestant than to keep one on. If we could apply the same idea to politics, we could restore interest, raise participation and get rid of some of our more nauseating political figures. This summary public sanction, or ‘eviction' as it would probably become known, would help to raise accountability, clearing away our inept and unwanted politicians. I think the system might just work as, after all, what more are politicians than Big Brother-like contestants, vowing for our public affection?

As we are bombarded with media messages from our political elite perhaps we could seek solace in the knowledge that those figures who are afflicting us with such messages might well be up for ‘eviction'. We could express our disgust at certain politicians asking others to perform sexual acts on them, or at former ministers cuddling puppies at a press conference. And we could seek to rid democracy of its more distasteful elements. In a sense, negative nominations would hopefully remove some of the more negative and cynical elements of democracy that have so damaged the system, thereby re-establishing support for democracy.


Hi N !

Good blog :)))


prefer dictatorships, so BB-style of a political system would definitely have more supporters. Especially the evicting part - I will quote Djindjic here - "When I tell the Serbs, let's do something, they ask me - 'Ok, but against whom?'" ;)

An intriguing concept

And an idea worthy of serious consideration and a more elaborate thesis. I applaud you, sir.

Now if only we could find a way to implement such a system all over the democratic world... But I have a feeling that the participants in the system as it now is would be opposed. Or maybe not...?

Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability
to lift an eye to heaven
conscious of this fleeting time here

Big Brother Darwinism

Funny. But of course, not feasable. Freedom of speach and political assembly, expression and whatever else would prevent anyone actually being "voted off the island". Even the most despicable have a right to their opinion and place in the process.
However, given the choices, in most cases people are 'voting against' rather than 'for'. Take the recent US local elections, where the majority really voted 'against Bush' more than 'for' whatever representative was on their local ballot.
But I do like your Idea about turning the political process into entertainment - however, I think it's already been done.

bb networking

The question of complexity in democracy issues has not even been raised here...
I cannot help the feeling that it exists only within the scope of wanted and unwanted. (where certain groups determine what is wanted or unwanted no matter what the implications of such an act would be)
although there are some clear signs, (blow your own horn if no one hears you)
the traces are almost invisible...
The eviction principle might as well work, however monocratic it may sound - for all that democracy gives us is the bliss of a negative voting system, since it's obviously too hard to even try to see through...understand...choose the right one...filter the presented material - no, it takes great pains to do it - and time is money!
The realization that you can be evicted for good (there is no coming back) would probably evoke the awareness that somewhere, somehow, there is someone who goes to such lengths as to monitor the blink of your eye ...interesting...
You're evicted - leave the house!
Pack your bags and leave - as simple as that!
You don't have the luxury to evolve and change your apparel - the big brain sees everything, scans everything meticulously - there are no flaws to this system.
" rid democracy of its more DISTASTEFUL elements..."
what a thought!!!

spare us man..we just got

spare us man..we just got rid off the communism thanks to Churchill and F.D Roosevelt who sold us (serbs) to the communists during the WW2. now, first we have to practice democracy in present form for another 50 years and than we'll see...nevertheless if u think that BB stuff was a good idea than i think USA and UE (GB) should try it first ;O)

The only problem with your post is

your belief that there is a democracy in USA and UK. THe so called "programmed" democracy - creating a bi partisan system, and heavily controling the minds of the voters through media programming is far far away from the real democracy, or even the idiotic bumbling we are trying here in Serbia. There is no choise neither in USA nor in UK, you can only choose one of the two "sects" of the same "church". Your president can be pot smoking, draft dodging, wife cheating prick and still pull two electoral mandates. The alternative - half literate moron half the planet is openly comparing to a monkey, so stupid that he even disclosed the real PTB (powers that be) to the nation (refusal of Kyoto, strip mining rights in Alaska), who rules not by democracy but by iron fist of fear (patriot act/homeland security).
It is pure and simple democracy on its hind legs, taking its last breath. All the great ideas and polytical systems have started good, than metastised then died in revolutions - why do you think democracy can outlive its corpse. The problem is people are seeing this and having no alternative - choosing not to be a part of the charade.

I wasn't saying...

I wasn't trying to criticise only Serbian democracy. I believe that there is a crisis in democracy everywhere. I wouldn't say that the two/three party system is perfect although but a huge range of parties often results in coalitions that are unstable and fractious. I believe that a system in which three to six parties face a realistic chance of election would be better.

I do agree that too many

I do agree that too many parties isn't a good thing. But a majority won't pass the threshold anyway, so we will have four major parties and maybe a coalition of a few minor parties. How they will agree on forming the government I don't know.
Go Ceda!

Not just Serbia

I am not simply suggesting that this system could be applied to Serbia. And yes it might well be best to try it out of some of the more weathered democracies first.

what a thought, but...

I have to say that this is really an interesting thought. We could vote out those despicable Markos, Nikolas, Enas...(sorry if someone doesn't agree). The problem arises when we wish to bring someone back, like that immature, hysterical Maja. They do come back. Some have never really gone.
We have always been voting against in Serbia, always voting for the lesser of the two evils. We have tried it, doesn't work.
And another problem, if they knew they could be evicted, as you say, don't you think they would be even more hypocritical, deceiving, smooth-tongued? If they are telling us now only what we want to hear, what would they be telling us then?
Nice thought, thank you for trying to improve the world, but, cut that c..., doesn't work

cumulative voting...

Supposing we are evaluating 12 politicians in a sample Cabinet

Each citizen votes for those that should be evicted and those that should stay.

At the end you have a list of positive and negative votes for each minister. You set a threshold of, perhaps, 66% (I think 50% is not enough) for a 'minister' to stay.

Then you have another election. Voters pick those candidates whom they want to fill in, say, 5 vaccant offices. Again, those candidates who accumulate the largest number of votes are appointed to these offices.

Even in Parliament, you could use the system direcly to choose which deputies should stay and which should leave, thus encourage them to be directly responsible to their constituency, rather than their party.

An interesting system. It is already used in some form in a some European countries. In Australia as well, I think. But not targeted at the individual official to this extent.

nick my man

Nick my man, is that you?

Is that our one and only Indira lover?

An Indira fan

Yes I am still a die-hard fan (how could I not be) and I look back with fond memories on a night of pure aural pleasure at the Hala Pionir.
Any more interviews arranged? It would certainly give me something to right about. I could even do it now.


a righteous one then ;)


I'm in "our" hometown 'till the elections ends.
This is the last time that we're trying to do something with this town.

There are some speculations about Ceca's concert on a main square in january. This would be a unique oportunity to add one more folk star interview to your list.