The distribution of responsibilities and instruments

in an efficient democracy

by Eckhard Sambach


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  1. Distribution of responsibilities  (1)
    The global framework of an efficient democracy is based on a general consent over the distribution of responsibilities for particular objectives or tasks. These responsibilities are specific or joint.
    1. Specific responsibilities and corresponding instruments
      An efficient democracy privileges specific responsibilities. They are assumed by those actors of society that are the most able to rationally do so. This implies an understanding on which objectives or tasks are assumed by which of the main actors of society and on how sufficient instruments are assigned to the respective objectives or tasks (principle of proportionality)
      1. Organizations and institutions acting in the medium and long term general interest
        1. Political parties:
          1. Their candidates must prove before an independent institution their ability to exercise the office desired
          2. The major task of each political party is to prepare its draft governmental program pointing out how it intends to convert into political action the citizen's will while respecting the principles of an efficient democracy
          3. To this end each party proceeds in two stages
            1. Examination of the political desires and suggestions on their consistency among themselves and with the medium and long term general interest. They include above all
              1. the preferences expressed by the citizens
              2. the proposals of reform set out by independent institutions
            2. Setting up - based on this examination - of their draft governmental program while respecting the standards and principles of a "Standardized Systems of Comprehensive Political Programs“ (more)
        2. Public institutions
          1. Parliament and Government. They create and maintain for the society a stable and efficient global framework, providing in particular good conditions for a healthy and self sustained dynamic economy. This framework
            1. is granting enterprises and labour the possibility of flexibility and differentiation, thus enabling them in an unstable economic environment  (technical progress, international competition, internationalization of production) to adjust quickly to new requirements (with new products, new production processes, new types of organization)
            2. offers general acceptable regulations of the labour market, i.e.
              1. it is protecting the possibilities of unemployed and those threatened by unemployment to earn themselves their living, i.e. granting them a protection against the particular cartel based interests of employed labour  (taking into account the competition between freedom of coalition and individual liberty rights). In other words: Unemployed and those threatened by unemployment are given the right to use possibilities of earning their living at conditions they consider sufficient (despite existing collective agreements)
              2. enabling both sides of industry  to fix wages and salaries and other tariff bound conditions at levels that meet their responsibility for matching supply and demand on the labour market, i.e. for a high level of employment
              3. corresponds to the long term interest in maintaining good investment conditions. That applies in particular to the three most important determinant for the location of factors of production, such as labour and fixed capital, i.e. to their
                1. qualification,
                2. costs
                3. reliability (more)
            1. is imposing the same simple and binding standards of behavior on all institutions and levels of public authorities, in particular for the global development of their receipts, expenditures and debts
            2. is thereby creating the conditions and means for a dynamic social policy
            1. obliges parliament and government to respect their responsibility for the interests of future generations.
          1. Government: It is appointed by the parliament and executes the governmental program elected by the citizens
          2. Parliament: It supervises the execution of the governmental program and can decide an adjustment of the program , if
            1. the absolute majority of the citizens entitled to vote points out in the two year questionnaires, which adjustment of the governmental program it is wishing
            2. unexpected questions of principle are requiring a fast decision
        3. Independent sovereign institutions. They have the ability to impose conditions on other economic subjects but also the obligation to communication, transparency and accountability on behalf of the public. This obligation is the basis of their independence as well as the foundation of its reliability and acceptance with the citizen.
          1. Sovereign institutions for traditional tasks. Their autonomy is confirmed by an independent organ appointing recognized experts into their steering committee. These institutions are committed to act impartially in the long term general interest. Among these institutions figure
            1. the central bank with its only task of ensuring the stability of the price levels of gross domestic product (goods and services) and assets (financial and non financial) at constant quality ("monetary stability")
            2. the courts
            3. the court of auditors
            4. the supervisory boards for the monitoring and regulation of competition, stock exchange, financial markets, insurance, telecommunication etc.
          2. Authority for safeguarding the general interest in the medium and long term. Withstanding the actual predominance of innumerable short term interests as well as the strong pressure of particular groups of interests requires an authority sui generis with firmly rooted independence and special powers.
            1. Organization
              1. The Authority is directed by a board counting a restricted number of members (for example 7). The members have a minimum age (for example 55 years) and the duration of their mandate exceeds by far the usual legislature  (for example 8 years). They are appointed, without possible re-nomination, by independent institutions and other organizations, for example
                1. two by the university faculties of economic and social sciences
                2. two by the central bank and/or the court of auditors
                3. two by the Independent Authority itself (co-option)
                4. one by the Public Authorities (Parliament or government in alternation)
              2. The secretariat of the authority is assured by the respective national or international statistic office.
            2. Tasks
              1. The Authority is watching over the respect of the general interest in the medium and long term in economic and social life. If necessary, the Authority informs the public as early as possible of the reasons why it considers a project or an economic or social decision incompatible with this principle. This applies in particular to projects of large economic decision makers and/or to measures implementing the governmental program. The project or the decision objected to are automatically suspended for a certain period of deliberation (e.g. for four months)
              2. The suspension is lifted, if the Authority certifies the conformity of an adjusted version with the principle of general interest in the medium and long term
              3. If after the period of deliberation the Authority has not delivered the certificate, Parliament may adopt a new provision with the majority of two thirds of its member.
              4. The Authority keeps the citizens informed on its conclusions and recommendations.
        4. Independent organizations of the civil society acting in the medium and long term general interest. They are ruled by private law and perform their task without financial or other support by public authorities.  According to their specialization they assume the following tasks
          1. They inform periodically (after a two year interval) on the results of their polls with the citizens concerning their opinion  on fundamental problems of economic, social and political life, i.e. they
            1. conceive the questionnaires for the inquiries with the citizens
            2. organize the collection of the opinions
            3. exploit the questionnaires and
            4. publish a synthesis of the citizens' answers
          2. They publish
            1. a register of incentives which are incompatible with the general interest in the medium and long term
            2. periodically a macroeconomic analysis in the medium and long term (ex-post and ex-ante)
            3. their opinion on the draft programs of the political parties and other significant political proposals
            4. proposals for a reform which
              1. take into account the current situation and the foreseeable developments
              2. create incentives for a behavior which is constructive and in conformity with the general interest in the medium and long term
      2. Both sides of industry, i.e. enterprises (including their federations) and employees (including the trade unions).  They
        1. enjoy the privilege of being able to form cartels on the labour market that collectively settle important conditions of labour relations
        2. are committed
          1. to carry the responsibility for how they are using their cartel based power when fixing collective wage settlements. In particular, they support the costs for the labour force that is no more demanded at the level of wages and salaries they have fixed, i.e. that they make or keep unemployed. In other words: According to the causer pays principle the two sides of industry are responsible for supporting and managing the unemployment insurance system
          2. to introduce into each collective wage settlements an unconditional clause
            1. allowing branches, regions and individuals to agree diverging settlements taking into account their specific conditions and thereby
            2. limiting the cartel based power of social partners and
            3. permitting clearance on the particular labour markets
          3. to allow their members to consider all elements of their labour contract (e.g. including a renunciation from firing) when appraising and agreeing the settlement of their wages and salaries.
        3. renounce from consent enforcing measures before collective bargaining being detrimental to public live, i.e.  from strikes and lockout (more)
    2. Joint responsibilities
      For some tasks responsibilities are spread among so many participants that it is impossible for one specific actor to assume the primary responsibility for such a task. This applies in particular to two interdependent areas which are crucial for an efficient society because they have to enable politicians and citizens to act according to their responsibilities in and for society. These areas are :
      1. an information system, that offers the citizen an easy access to information enabling them to correctly assess the fundamental aspects of different situations of life (more)
      2. an education system, that enables the citizens to meet their personal and collective responsibilities (more).
(1) The numbering of items corresponds to that of the Site Map (A - i) and is used, if necessary, a second time (A - i -A -i).

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- A comparison between these conditions and the reality shows the type and extent of necessary reforms -

The author is grateful for
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Copyright (c) 2003-2005 by Eckhard Sambach. All rights reserved.