All Stories, Humour, Science Fiction

Direct Democracy by Tobias Haglund


Arnold Dupree, the right-hand man and the representative of President Smith, shook hands with Oscar Bojanovic, the head of the voting facility. Oscar gave him a keycard and a badge and led the way.

“If you direct your attention to the screen, we can observe which question the voter is currently answering.”


You witness a fight between two equally strong men. Do you;

  1. Call the Police
  2. Run away
  3. Wait until one of them is victorious, and then attack from behind.
  4. Jump in and throw punches in every direction
  5. Tell them to stop fighting from a safe distance

“Ah. He’s on the category Morality. As expected he chose 4. Most of the Eleven-45’s do.”


“Oh forgive me. You’re not accustomed to our codes. It is jargon, a sophisticated way of insulting to you perhaps, but a necessary grouping of particular characteristics.

“Like what?”

“Like stupidity.”

“Ah. I see.”

“To use a clearer, more direct language such as yours, Eleven-45’s are stupid. They are also quite commonly poor. Poor and stupid, those things seem to overlap. Long time ago a rule, or rather an internal directive, forbade us to use such derogatory words – it was in a time of political correctness – but what the discussion didn’t take into account was-“

“Language change.”

“Precisely. If you visit a kindergarten, you’ll hear them call each other Eleven-45’s or, if someone is really ungifted; Eleven-46.”

“And I’m guessing this one, this Eleven-45, scored poorly on Intelligence and Mentality.”

Oscar swiped the screen. “This particular one did… Yes poorly. A bit higher than average on Mentality – for his group, that is – but nothing outside of the accepted mean.”

“The accepted mean?”

“Oh it sounds worse than it actually is. We have those… means, to eliminate any votes which the voter accidentally placed or which he didn’t mean; to use different words, to use the direct language of your home country; to prevent from cheating. If a voter answers every single question in A, all of his answers are nullified. Which of course means zero point zero votes.”

Arnold finished writing his sentence and made eye contact with Oscar. “Good.”

“We like to think so.”

“Can we take a peek at a smart and rich person for contrast?”

Oscar turned off the screen. “Yes. One-11’s for instance. Not super-rich, but highly intelligent. If you turn your attention to this screen instead…”

A young female concentrated on the screen in front of her.

“Okay, the first obvious thing I notice– ”


“The obvious difference in…”

“Of course.”

“Personal hygiene. The poor and stupid– ”

“Eleven-45’s, yes.”

“He had… He has poor teeth, filthy clothes.”

“Yes. If they want universal coverage they should vote for it, which some of them do, surprisingly not all of them. Although, it wouldn’t really matter since their votes in such questions weigh less than those smarter, and the smarter voters don’t need coverage since they can afford it for themselves.”

“Ah! President Smith will like that. A victorious spiral.”

“Indeed. Let’s see which question this particular One-11 is currently on.”


Chose the correct missing number in the sequence:


  1. 176
  2. 188
  3. 200
  4. 206
  5. 164

“She’s still on the early rounds of Logic – a subcategory to Intelligence. Not very interesting yet.”

“I have one question though.”


“That’s funny. I didn’t think you had that expression. Good. Anyway, these… One-11’s.”


“Isn’t there a risk, a highly probable one, that she will have more votes than her leader?”

“Not a risk, it’s a guarantee.”

“See, that doesn’t work. No. It doesn’t look good. Not in my eyes.”

“Hmm. That’s unfortunate. If it is any comfort it might only be in the category Intelligence and not in Culture, Mentality, Morality, Family or various minor categories.”

“We want our leaders to be of the highest intelligence.”

“Well, I don’t… think you do. I think it’s more a question of appearance. If you’re so keen on intelligence, why don’t you elect the smartest person as your leader?”

Arnold drew a line over something he had written. “Let’s not argue. Is there a way I can make sure the leaders score high on these tests?”

“No. But you can make leaders out of those who score highly.”

“Let’s move on to something else.” Arnold pointed at the two screens in the control room. “How much will all of it cost us?”

“You will pay a yearly fee. A subscription, if you will. It is not substantial in any way, but still a sizeable fee. You understand why we choose to do it this way? Business 101; keeping rivals out of our business with you and it also ensures a revenue stream over the foreseeable future.”

“And we do these tests every month?”

“Yes. Every month. If a person wants his or her votes they must take the tests every month. You can have a direct democracy or an indirect democracy. We chose direct, so we have minor elections every month, which then the test will be about; a themed test, sort of speak.”

“We are more inclined towards the indirect kind.”

“I assumed you were. That works fine. A monthly test to perform at home, you can give incitements like tax-credits and fees. The fees from those who don’t take the tests pay for the tax-credits for those who DO take the tests. The tests are then weighted and a final result after four years give the voter his or her different votes, in the various categories of course. If a female scored highly in the Family category, her opinions on Child Care matter more than those of a retired army man, who performed poorly, to give an example.”

“Yes. That’s all fine and good.” Arnold closed his notebook. “I wonder though, are the tests skewed in any direction?”

“You mean skewed politically?”


“Not at first. But the program will skew towards the mean. Which means at first, we had rerehabilitation for criminals, instead of the more populist option; long prison sentences. They weigh equally in the eyes of the test, but as you know the populist trend moves the mean towards harsher punishment – no one has ever lost an election for being tough on crime – even though the research show the most effective way to deal with criminals is rehabilitation.”

“I know how you deal with criminals in your country. The rapists play video-games and eat buffet every day.”

“Please. I’ve heard them all. Either be original or keep it to yourself.”

“Please: Sir.”


“I’m Chief of Staff to President Smith, I oversee more than a million government officials, fought victoriously in three wars, I am over twenty years your senior; by all definitions am I ‘Sir’ to you.”

“Forgive my bluntness, but no, you’re not. I don’t share your culture. It is in fact rude of you to assume I would call you Sir.”

“I can’t think of a person I had the need to so often say; let’s not argue about this, as I have to you.”

Arnold and Oscar stepped out of the control room and into the break room.

“I have no trouble believing that. Arguing in the indirect type of democracy, there are better shows on display, I imagine. Coffee or tea?”

“Coffee. What can you tell me about the concrete differences between our two countries? I’m talking palpable differences. Something I can come back with and we can tell voters.”

“We have higher GDP, both absolute and per capita. And we are well ahead of your country on almost all of the measurable values within Health, Crime and Education.”

Oscar poured coffee into Arnold’s cup. He poured a bit of sugar in and grabbed a spoon. “And the unmeasurable values? Like– ”

“Equality for instance? We can measure some equality. Income disparity for instance is measurable. We fall behind you in that category, of course.”

“What about happiness?”

“We can’t measure it. We tried to measure it by including a large sample of the population who answered hundreds of standardized tests. We then added suicide attempts, drug addicts and alcoholics, chronically depressed and mentally ill patients, and other less obvious statistics like teeth grinding. It sounds far-fetched, but gnawing of teeth is a sign of stress and sleep-deprivation.”

Arnold sipped on his coffee. “What did the results show?”

“The result was inconclusive, logically speaking. It was the equivalent of answering all questions by answering A. It was… actually it was paradoxical. How could they possibly be so unhappy when all the values in every single issue keep rising? “

“The obvious answer is more often than not the right answer.”

“I apologize for saying you speak directly. That was clearly indirect.”

“I mean, the reason they answered Unhappy, might be because they are… unhappy. Universal Coverage, poor health and poor education, I’m just guessing, might influence their happiness negatively.”

“Yes, but those votes don’t weigh as much as those who can afford all those things.”

“You weighted even the Happiness Test?”

“Of course!”

“So what you’re saying is… not even the rich, healthy and intelligent inhabitants are happy?”

“As I said the results are inconclusive– ”

“I think I have enough to report for now. Thanks for the invitation. I’ll see myself out.”


Tobias Haglund


Header image: DNA Micro-array: By Duncharris at en.wikipedia ([1] Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

7 thoughts on “Direct Democracy by Tobias Haglund”

    1. Thank you, June. A bit dry and I guess dark. Not dark as in blood and screams, but more in a what will become of us? -sort of way. Thanks as always, June. ATVB my friend


  1. I live in a nation in which presidential candidates, such as Donald Trump, could make Kafka feel better about himself. Satire’s curse is that the good stuff comes true. I find your work, once again, good. I only hope that its scenario isn’t something absurd enough to come true.
    Irene Allison

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It probably won’t come true, but then again who knows? I guess it is a Kafkaesque feeling to this. Certainly a continuation of this premise would be computers running the countries based on averages and means. Voting would just be for show. Good thing that’s not the case right now… I’m Swedish and Donald Trump wrote in his biography that he had Swedish ancestry. He later had to retract it. He then said a lot of Swedes wanted him to visit Sweden to give speeches. My question is: Who the hell are these people!? Thanks for the read and comment, Irene. I’m aware that this one was a bit dry and not the easiest of reads.Thanks. ATVB my friend


  2. Hi Tobias, more cutting observation! The question on acceptable language will and does always raise its head.
    There is a lot of relevance in this sharp piece of writing.
    All the very best my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Hugh. That’s kind of you. I always wonder who might enjoy this type of story as it is sort of a rant, but highly edited. I won’t compare it to your rants, you king of rants.
      ATVB my friend


  3. Quite a brave new world concept. The part about measuring happiness is quite funny and the kindergarten kids calling each other Eleven 46. These democracy surveys are rigged…. Rigged, I tell you…..


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