With the help of modern technology, new possibilities for democratic organisation have emerged that combine the best of representative and direct democracy, while avoiding the negative aspects of the systems.


As early as 1884, Lewis Carroll described a combination of direct and representative democracy that would have the advantages of both systems and avoid some of the disadvantages of both [1]. This system can be called "delegative democracy" [2]

Delegative democracy means that anyone can choose to temporarily copy what someone else votes for, which is called "delegating your vote" to someone else. The delegator can at any time override the delegate's vote (before the end time if there is an end time) or delegate to someone else instead.

A delegate can be an outsider with no voting rights of their own, it can also be an organisation, the point is that a delegate's votes are visible to all, and that the history is available. Delegation can be on a single issue or on a range of issues. Delegates being able to delegate their votes is called meta-delegation and is described in the figure below:


Delegation builds direct democracy into a system where not everyone has to spend time, energy, or expertise on every single issue. In successful organisations, people specialise, i.e. there is some division of labour. A system of democracy should reflect this.

Delegation has been shown in empirical studies to be better than direct democracy for reaching the "truth" and making informed decisions. There is evidence that people tend to delegate their votes to more knowledgeable people who in turn do not tend to delegate away their vote in their areas of expertise[2][3][4].



Demoex used the system in Vallentuna Municipality, which was the first real test of delegative democracy in reality at a decision-making level [6]. But liquid democracy has never been tested on a larger scale in a country or tested to govern larger organisations. There may be a number of unexplored disadvantages as well as advantages we do not know about.

The Association for Digital Democracy advocates the idea of delegation primarily for companies and organizations that want to govern themselves from below through grassroots democracy. Scientific studies will have to reveal in more detail which versions of delegation work best where. [7][8]


[1]: Carroll, Lewis (1884). The Principles of Parliamentary Representation. London: Harrison and Sons.

[2]: Paulin, Alois. "Through Liquid Democracy to Sustainable Non-Bureaucratic Government". JeDEM.

[3]: Revel, M., Halpern, D., Berinsky, A., & Jadbabaie, A. Liquid Democracy in Practice: An Empirical Analysis of its Epistemic Performance.

[4]: Kahng, A., Mackenzie, S., & Procaccia, A. (2021). Liquid democracy: An algorithmic perspective. Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, 70, 1223-1252.

[5]: Gölz, P., Kahng, A., Mackenzie, S., & Procaccia, A. D. (2021). The fluid mechanics of liquid democracy. ACM Transactions on Economics and Computation, 9(4), 1-39.

[6]: "Demoex (Sweden)". newDemocracy. The newDemocracy Foundation. Retrieved 23 April 2018. 

[7]: Hagberg, L. (2019). Flytande demokrati: Varför det är framtidens system. BoD-Books on Demand. [Note: outdated campaign material with some good parts]

[8]: Lönnfält, A., & Sigvald, J. (2014). Flytande demokrati. Nomad Förlag.

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The Digital Democracy Association is a non-profit association that is religiously and politically independent. It aims to support and promote effective democratic organisation of people at all levels: from small networks and organisations at grassroots level to large companies, political parties and organisations at national and international level.

Its ultimate goal is a world in which everyone's influence and participation is maximised in a way that is compatible with high flexibility, efficiency and power to act in human co-operation and organisations. The Association's sub-goals are to (i) develop innovative open-source tools for digital democratic organisation (ii) disseminate knowledge and stimulate interest in effective democratic decision-making and organisational practices (iii) support organisations and companies to improve their internal democracy.