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Winning this election isn't crucial to this candidate - he just wants to spread direct democracy

Jan Van De Ven is running as a candidate in the Ireland South constituency, and if elected would introduce a system of eDemocracy.

Image: Jan Van de Ven via Twitter

DIRECT DEMOCRACY IRELAND is starting to make its presence felt on the political scene in this upcoming round of elections, fielding a candidate in all three European constituencies.

Behind it all is party leader Jan Van De Ven, who took over from Ben Gilroy earlier this year, and who has worked at European level previously as a founding member of Democracy International.

Originally from Los Angeles, his background is in technology, where he has a significant skill-set and has worked on projects ranging from IT systems to decoding DNA.

He is now running in the European elections as a candidate in the Ireland South constituency.

Van De Ven told TheJournal.ie that he ’doesn’t care’ if he gets elected, that he cares more about spreading the message of direct democracy and “getting the facts across the Irish people”.

A key point of this is the power for “citizen initiated referendum”, which Van De Ven says was removed from the constitution decades ago, and would have allowed for people to repeal unpopular laws.

“What’s happened is that Ireland has forgotten that it actually had this power. Even if I told 10 per cent of people about the system, I would have accomplished my job.”

A cornerstone of his campaign is introducing a system of eDemocracy. This would allow Irish people to raise issues that matter to them online, discuss them, and vote them up and down.

PastedImage-65185 An example of an issue raised on Van de Ven's eDemocracy website. Source: JanVandeVen.eu

This means Van De Ven would address issues put forward by the people, giving them extra democratic power.

“You’ll find that in countries that incorporate direct democracy have citizens who are more interested in politics because they know they have a say,” he said.

“If people see that they don’t have a say, at some point they’re going to stop voting.”

On eVotes in elections…

Ireland spent €50 million an eVoting system. I could have done that for less than a million. I think what we need to do is increase the number of people voting, and so then maybe we could look at online voting in detail.

On water charges…

I think that water taxes are the result of the mismanagement of resources, so they’re just coming up with more and more ideas to justify taking money from us.

On Ireland’s tech economy…

One of the first things I would try to do is make sure to find money to up-skill people. We have a lot of people working in low-tech, but we need to be in high-tech. I would run fibre-optic broadband through the entire country so that everyone has super-fast broadband and the ability to go online, learn software, and up-skill. Whatever field you’re in, be science, accounting, agriculture, computers play a critical role.

On jobs for graduates…

I would say the majority of jobs [created by government] are now for the graduates, but sure if they graduate from university and go for a job that doesn’t allow them to apply themselves, that they don’t get to use their credentials in, earning minimum wage, what is that?

On the recent scandals in An Garda Síochána…

Ben Gilroy spoke to [garda whisteblower] John Wilson on his show months ago, and so we’ve been more deeply involved in that any other TD or media organisation. We stand for truth and transparency.We should have an outsider run the police force. It would mean no nepotism, they wouldn’t have any vested interests.

The European politics facts and figures…

As we build up to the 23 May polling day, TheJournal.ie‘s been giving each European Election candidate we interview a quick pop quiz on the institutions.

Van De Ven noted that he was sitting a computer and could easily just Google the questions…

How many seats will the EU Parliament have after the election?
From memory, it’s 751. [Correct.]

What year did Ireland officially join the EU?
1972, I think. Let me think about that… [silence] 1973? [Correct.]

Last country to join EU?
Eh, I have no idea… [silence] I keep thinking it would one of the East Bloc countries, Croatia? [Correct.]

Last country to join Eurozone?
It might be one of the Baltic states… [silence] Latvia.

Read: This MEP candidate doesn’t care who Van Rompuy is because no one voted for him >

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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