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The Citizens’ initiative as a method of grassroots participation Experiences from Slovenia


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Palir Blaz, Senior Advisor, Government Communication Office, Republic of Slovenia

“The Citizens’ initiative as a method of grassroots participation – experiences from Slovenia”

In November 2009 the Slovenian Government set up a web-based citizens’ initiative platform, the primary purpose of which was to encourage residents to publish their suggestions on how to address the issues that they perceive as requiring a change of government policy or legal regulation. The presentation will touch upon the positive effects of the platform, the problem of government responsiveness and its willingness to implement the initiatives, the mistakes made and lessons learnt.

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The Citizens’ initiative as a method of grassroots participation Experiences from Slovenia

  1. 1. The Citizens’ initiative as amethod of grassroots participation Experiences from Slovenia Blaž Palir Government Communication Office Republic of Slovenia
  2. 2. Participation Consultations 5.000 citizens can put forward a legislation proposal to the Slovenian parliament Petitions
  3. 3. Direct Communication with citizens Answering questions Receiving and responding to suggestions
  4. 4. What is missing? Suggestions and responses should be public  Public scrutiny over the government answers  Lower number of recurring suggestions  Government cares Suggestions should be collective Citizens should choose the most relevant suggestions
  5. 5. Getting the project approved Goal: adoption of a regulation requiring ministries and government offices to prepare the answers in 20 days after receiving the initiative
  6. 6. Good practice - Estonia TID+ Registered users create suggestions  Checked by moderator before being published Debate (14 days)  Amendments possible Voting (7 days  14 days) Answers published online (30 days)
  7. 7. Open source TID+ Based upon years of practical experience and academic research No development – saving time and money No licenses
  8. 8. Fears citizens will not take time to register  Facebook Connect (Open Graph) citizens will not participate, if they cannot remain anonymous  only need a valid e-mail inappropriate comments  checked and deleted if necessary the interest of people will be so small, that the suggestions will be adopted with just few votes  voting quorum users will lose interest  weekly newsletter government ministries and agencies will not respond on time or the quality of their answers would be poor
  9. 9. The big bang going public  at 5 pm on Wednesday, 11. November 2009 in the first 24 hours we received 95 suggestions
  10. 10. Statistics - after 2 years 5,965 registered users
  11. 11. Users Age  Average age of users is 40 years; average age of Slovenian citizens is 41 years.  13% are younger than 24 years  50% are between ages 24 and 45  37% are older than 45 years Education  57% have college or university degrees  Slovenia: 25%
  12. 12. Statistics - after 2 years 5,965 registered users 2,105 suggestions (3 per day)  285 were rejected by moderators 12,494 comments (9 per suggestion)  max 441 20,823 votes (15 per suggestion)  max 991 469 suggestion (35%) got the majority support and were forwarded for answering
  13. 13. Response time 24 days on average  53% published before the 20-day deadline set by the government regulation  80% in 30 day or less, as promised to users  91% of answers are prepared in 40 day or less
  14. 14. Responses 39% - negative 47% - the solution in place already effectively addresses the issue or something similar will be implemented shortly 10% - the suggestion is one of the possible solutions, but the government has not yet decided on how to proceed 3% (13) got a positive response  8 already implemented
  15. 15. Positive answers micro issues  lower Value Added Tax on washable dippers  lower duties on vehicles used for transportation of disabled
  16. 16. THE ISSUE Quality of government responses  justified rejection or acceptance of proposals  thorough analysis of the proposal Remedies  designated coordinators  raising the bar
  17. 17. Further modifications Voting in debate stage  Now possible Users want to follow the implementation of adopted suggestions
  18. 18. New government – new game plan Lifting the significance of the platform  Getting the Prime Minister involved – supporting particular suggestions  Good for the platform and PM’s PR
  19. 19. Is it a success ? Received predominately positive responses from users, academia and media
  20. 20. Is it a success ? Received predominately positive responses from users, academia and media operational in less than 6 months 16,257.00 € spent in 2 years unexpected numbers
  21. 21. Slovenia on the UN e-participation index  2003 – rank 36  2004 – rank 41  2005 – rank 46  2008 – rank 55  2010 – rank 20