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Representative recall

Representative recall refers to any system of political representation, especially a representative democracy, where those represented have the power to recall their representative from the assembly, legislature, committee, conference, or other body where s/he is inadequately representing their own values and/or views. It is a special form of disapproval voting and of formal disapproval as practiced by electors on incumbents.

Often it is also a first step towards direct democracy or mediated direct democracy. Some consider this measure alone sufficient to satisfy grassroots democracy advocates, but most find it inadequate without other measures, e.g. referendum, electoral reform, bioregional democracy, that increase political accountability, and increase the role of citizens, ecologies, etc..

The Canadian province of British Columbia has representative recall. In that province, voters in a provincial riding/district can petition to have a sitting representative removed from office, even a Premier presently leading a government. If enough voters sign the petition[?], a referendum is held, and if successful a by-election is held as soon as possible, so that politician can be replaced. Fourteen U.S. states have similar measures in their constitutions - and many more municipalities - but generally these measures are harder to implement than in B.C., where in January 2003 there were a record twenty-two such recalls under way.

It is not always necessary for an actual law to be applied to all representatives, if party discipline is effective and existing laws give parties the power to disempower sitting representatives, then an informal system of representative recall is possible. Again in Canada, the federal Canadian Alliance Party has made representative recall part of its platform for electoral reform, and implements it (in a way) within its party. If the members of any CA riding association vote to recall a CA federal Member of Parliament presently in office, that representative is denied all funds and support for re-election, and other CA members cannot sit in caucus with them, nor share party funds with them. In effect, these measures force the resignation of the recalled member, as they become ineffective due to political isolation, social pressure and ridicule.

See also: disapproval voting, representative democracy, electoral reform, grassroots democracy, formal disapproval

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