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eDemocracy Workshop: Harnessing digital tools for public action: Informal citizen participation at local level
September 8, 2020 @ 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Citizen participation initiatives at local level are popular, as citizens can directly relate to the subject of decision-making. Often, those initiatives have a strong engagement rate due to the community / group mindset and the ability to mobilise on a concrete issue of personal and community interest. Compared with national initiatives, local initiatives can cover topics that are mostly much closer to citizens’ everyday lives. This could enhance their outreach and lower the barrier for citizens to participate.
This second workshop aims to provide an overview on digital democracy tools applied at the local level. The workshop will outline some of the underlying characteristics of informal, citizens-led eParticipation at local level and will present good practices on a broad selection of topics. The commonalities between them all will be analysed and recommendations for the multiplication of the projects in other contexts/ countries will be discussed. The main input is expected to be given by the participants themselves to share initiatives and projects that they have experienced in the field.
Questions raised: How can ICT’s help to stimulate democracy on the local level? What are the success factors for such projects? To what extent should public administrations be involved in the process? What should be the output of such processes? What are best practices in the field that can be applied in other constituencies?
TUESDAY, 8 September 2020 – 10.30h CET
10.30 – 10.40 Technical and topical introduction by the moderator
10.40 – 10.45 Opening remarks
Martin Kothe, Regional Director for East and Southeast Europe, Friedrich Nauman Foundation
10.45 – 11.20 Interventions by 4 participants presenting their projects/good practices
11.20 – 12.20 Open discussion
What elements turn local digital democracy initiatives into success?
12.20 – 12.30 Concluding summary of the discussion and closing remarks by the moderator
Moderation: Ivaylo Tsonev, Project Coordinator, FNF
*Please note that participation in this workshop is by invitation only!
This workshop is organised in the framework of the ‘eDemocracy: Driving citizen advocacy through digital means’ project.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Since governments across Europe are still very cautious towards enabling state-led eDemocracy initiatives for citizen involvement in policy-making, the project will research, collect, assess, and present the ever-growing number of innovative good practices for citizen’s-led, informal participation and governance scrutiny through digital means.
Rationale of the project
Digital tools allow for an unprecedented inclusion of citizens in all areas of public action, with the potential to improve the quality of democracy and governance through greater participation and citizen-centric policy-making. Governments, however, have taken radically different approaches across Europe, either facilitating or hindering eDemocracy. The 2017 ELF project “Digitalising Democracy: eParticipation” revealed that the eTools for formal participation such as eConsultations, eReferenda and ePetitions have been used with very limited scope, generally not meeting the public’s expectations for a true civic input. Citizens and civic groups see their role as true contributors, rather than just addressees of state policies, and are increasingly using online tools for informal participation and governance scrutiny. Various platforms put pressure on decision-makers through requiring increased transparency and accountability. Such instruments empower citizens to take democratic action, enable them to participate, and gradually raise political acceptance of the eDemocracy itself.
Building on the knowledge of the various forms of online participation (see former ELF project on eDemocracy) this project aims to exchange and evaluate good practices for informal citizen eParticipation on local and national level across Europe. The ELF member organisations and third parties are expected to have shared knowledge to foster civic engagement and facilitate a true civic impact on the political decision-making through digital tools, ultimately leading to a more citizen’s centric democracy, and a more transparent and accountable governance.