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Cardano Flirts with Representative Democracy

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Picking up where the United States stopped, and Britain before them, and the Roman republic before that, Cardano is flirting with representative governance. After months of hints that researchers at IOG were exploring the next phase of governance on Cardano, IOG introduced on their blog on "April 10 the concept of “Delegate Representatives (dReps).”

The concept of dReps marks a milestone in Cardano’s goal to have a generic governance framework on the blockchain’s core layer. As with other governance experiments in Cardano, dReps is coming to Project Catalyst. This comes on the heels of other recent experiments such as Challenge Teams and the Catalyst Circle and sub-circles. (We’ve written extensively about Project Catalyst here on the site, a quick search will bring you up to speed!)

Since January 2021, Project Catalyst has awarded 16 million USD (paid out in $ADA) to the community to provide solutions to a wide range of challenges. In five months this amount will triple, awarding an additional 32 Million. By the end of 2022, Catalyst is on course to fund over 2,000 projects - a long way from the inaugural 11 projects that were funded! With this amount of growth, it is to be expected that the tools to manage, coordinate, audit, and facilitate public voting must also evolve.

According to the blog announcement, delegation will “enable ADA holders to delegate their voting power to one or many dReps.” The idea is to give a meaningful voice to passive ADA holders, or ADA holders with less than 500 ADA - the minimum amount of ADA required to vote. It’s also a way to scale, since Project Catalyst now always includes many more proposals than any one individual is likely to personally read and evaluate. It is also envisioned that dReps would work with each other and be one of the policy-forming bodies in Cardano Governance.

There is currently no information on how dReps will be elected or what exactly one “does” to receive voter delegations. IOG has put out an open call to anyone interested in becoming a dRep to sign up for more information via a google form linked in the blog post. (Link at the bottom of this article)

As a voter, you will be able to:

  • Delegate your entire voting power to one dRep
  • Split your power between multiple dReps
  • Delegate part of your voting power, and vote with the rest in the same voting round
  • Vote with all your power and don’t delegate to a dRep.

We are curious to see how this experiment evolves. We will be tracking and reporting on how the community reacts, responds and takes on this experiment.

Full disclosure, I have applied to be a dRep. Being a dRep for me goes beyond just receiving delegated votes and casting them. I believe the role also comes with the privilege of inspiring as many individuals to participate in holding me, teams winning proposals, dReps, and other voters accountable.

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