1 - WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
We need to be representing the growing minority in Helsinki of non Finnish and non Swedish speaking community (estimated between 6-14%) who are voters and are being alienated from public discussion due to language barriers. In the words of James Baldwin, "People who will be denied participation, by their very presence, will wreck it".
2 - DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS?
There is no singular definition of democracy nor there is a perfect system. Democracy, as any other system of organization, needs constant questioning and adaptation. I have been working in small and large scale projects of public participation throughout the world and have been researching and teaching at Universities around the world on Architectural Democracy. I learned from that, that power (cracy) for and by the people (demos) are easily manipulated and that scale matters. Finland can and should go for a more direct mode of democracy, for its scale, high level of education and mentality of trust and honesty.
Please check my website to see all the projects I have been doing in this area.
3 - HOW WILL AN EVERYDAY ONLINE VOTING WORK?
We are already testing out all the different online voting tools available. There are hundreds of these out there. For example, one that has been used by the pirate party or the one used by the flux party in Australia.
We post regularly about these on our Facebook page. There, we are also testing the online voting process via Facebook's tool for it. We will decide and announce which one we will use when the elections are over.
But in basic terms it goes like this: me, as a member of the city council, will be asked to vote. My team will translate these questions into English and post them online. Every citizen of Helsinki can log in into our app (verified log in) and vote on these questions and discuss about it online and sometimes on public gatherings. When the poll is over, I will go to the council and make the same vote as our group voting turned out to be.
We are making a customized app for Helsinki in a free and public Hackathon, join us.
4 - HOW CAN YOU MORALLY JUSTIFY VOTING FOR SOMETHING, IF IT IS NOT WHAT YOU BELIEVE TO BE THE BEST SOLUTION?
As a politician, my task is to turn citizens as much as politician as anyone else, not to turn them into spectators, thus my voice should be questioned and heard as all others.
I am not proposing a perfect system of direct democracy, but I am setting an example to question the status quo. There are certainly people more qualified to answer certain questions according to their level of expertise, but on the current system, we have an outdated system of public speakers (politicians) deciding on all matters, regardless of their expertise. We can do better than this!
In practical terms, and in lack of a better approach, it is preferable to then widen the decision making voices and include the whole population. Educated citizens will know also when their voice should be heard or when to stay neutral. For example, as a Civil Engineer, I will certainly be more engaged in discussions around for example, the tunnel between Tallinn and Helsinki, but I will not cast any vote, nor will I have so much interest in following other issues which are not of my expertise nor of my interest.
5 - IF YOU ARE IN IT TO MAKE NON-FINNISH, NON-SWEDISH SPEAKING CITIZENS OF HELSINKI TO PARTICIPATE, SHOULD YOU NOT BE DOING MORE THAN JUST DIRECT DEMOCRACY?
I have lived so far in 14 countries in 4 continents, till I decided to call Finland my final home.
I know well the hardships of being an immigrant and working in a country where you cannot even understand the road signs. Yes there is much to do for foreigners in Helsinki, and if you take some time to see my work (www.aibeo.com) you will find out that I have been committed to it in a very practical and constructive way. I am, for example, the founder and the chairman of the World Music School Helsinki ry, where each month we combine two local minorities into a folk dance event with live music, and I am the vice-chairman of Perpetuum Mobile ry, taking regularly in, into residencies, artists, politically persecuted in their own countries.
I learned from my father (a pioneer in the professional integration of mentally handicapped people) a very valuable lesson: The best integration is when the minority does not feel like being one. If everywhere there are ramps and accessible toilets, everyone profits from it, the healthy and also the handicapped, elderly, injured, etc. So instead of focusing on one group and build for them a ramp beside the staircase, the immigrants, I see this campaign to serve all of the citizens of Helsinki, making ramps to serve all.
6 - HOW WILL YOU PREVENT INTERNET TROLLING FROM MAKING A MESS OF YOUR SOFTWARE DATABASE?
The solution for bad speech is not through censuring, but with more speech. Talk, talk, talk.
We need to talk more with each others about living together. We should not be talking about politicians, but on the policies themselves. We should also be talking much more with the ones who disagree with us, even trolls!!
There will always be angry comments, or disruptive behaviors in any proposed system, but that does not justify not to be implementing it. Slavery and treating women as property was considered normal for thousands of years, we changed that, as we should change the current outdated system of representative democracy.
7 - WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF AN ORGANISED GROUP OF POLITICAL RADICALS SYSTEMATICALLY TARGET YOUR DIRECT DEMOCRACY SOFTWARE AND USE IT TO PROMOTE THEIR VIEWS?
As in any group, if a person or a group of people systematically disrupts the rules of it, these should be alerted about it as much as it can be done, and in the last case, these are to be banned. Exclusion of people is always the last case scenario, so all efforts should be done to understand their reasons and to improve.
8 - HOW CAN YOUR VOTERS BE SURE THAT THE INFORMATION YOU PROVIDE (ON THE QUESTIONS YOU ARE ASKING THEM TO VOTE ON) WILL BE OBJECTIVE AND NOT STEER THEIR DECISION-MAKING PROCESS?
They cannot be sure.
The voters should question everything, specially me! They should develop critical thinking and analyze for themselves what is being laid out for them. I will do my best to be neutral, but I am as human and as prone to corruption as any other human being, that is the reason I propose direct online voting and an end to professional politicians.
9 - WHO ARE YOU? :-)
please read here
10 - BY USING SUCH A SYSTEM WILL IT LEAD TO A GREAT LOSS OF EXPERTISE IN POLITICAL ORGANIZING OF MUNICIPAL MATTERS CONCERNING ITS INHABITANTS, BUT ALSO IN DRAWING FUNDING FROM INVESTORS TO DEVELOP THE CITY?
No, in fact, It will improve.
I am also an entrepreneur, and I have dealt with many governments around the world while designing their campuses or hospitals! I know very well that, to make one's project to speed up, the best way is to have a direct line with politicians. Because politicians will overcome many of the usual "obstacles".
Is this fair to others which services might be better?
Most of the funding work drawn to a city is done not by politicians, but by the system bureaucrats, who are independent of party colors. A city freed of professional politicians, would be much more fair to small enterprises who do not have that political direct line and to citizens in general.
11 - HOW YOU INTEND TO BRIDGE THE COMMUNICATION GAP WITH OTHER REPRESENTATIVES IF YOU CANNOT SPEAK EITHER FINNISH OR SWEDISH?
Creating that situation at the city council, will be a clear evidence of the need to have translation services, not only for me, but the 14% of voters of Helsinki.
12 - I READ AN ARTICLE OF YOURS AND I DISAGREE WITH YOUR OPINION, WHY SHOULD I SUPPORT YOU?
When elected, my opinions on any matter will count as much as any other citizen. All I will do is to inform, not to rule. I will simply press the button at the city council from the results of the e-voting.
13 - IF I VOTE FOR YOU, YOU WILL REPRESENT NOT ONLY ME (AND OTHERS WHO VOTED FOR YOU) BUT ANYONE WHO, AT BEST, ARE ELIGIBLE RESIDENTS OF HELSINKI. IN THIS SETTING, I MIGHT RATHER WANT TO USE MY VOTE FOR A CANDIDATE WHO I AM SURE WILL SUPPORT THE POLICIES I AM MORE LIKELY TO SUPPORT, OTHERWISE MY VOTE MIGHT END UP BEING WASTED, RIGHT?
- think of how many policies will one be faced at on the next 4 years. How can you possibly know if your representant will match your thoughts?
- How can you demand your representant for liability in what he/she/it promised if the vote is secret?
- think on how often a person changes, and politicians, being absorbed into a sea of influence, will change their views constantly, how can one trust in such an outdated system?
Why I need your vote:
I am the only one saying that access to information is vital. The meeting minutes need to be translated every time, so everyone has access to information. Even if the vote you cast will not be what is voted at the end, you know that there is one person making sure everyone is informed. How can we have a democracy where 15% of us do vote but do not understand what is being talked?
This all aside, why I need your vote now, is to set an example that democracy needs constant reevaluation of its methods. Representative Democracy is an old system invented in the 12th century by a 17 year old king. We need to set an example, even if small, your vote will make a difference.