Citizens’ participation in lawmaking a focus of Participedia ’s 2013 Year in Review

Citizens’ participation in lawmaking is a focus of Michael MacKenzie, Tim Glynn-Burke, and Professor Dr. Archon Fung‘s new post, Innovations in Participation, 2013: Participedia’s Year in Review, at Challenges to Democracy, published by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

Three of the cases described in the post concern citizens’ participation in lawmaking.

[Disclosure: I contribute to Participedia — an online encyclopedia of participatory democracy described in the post — and I suggested that the Estonia case described below be added to Participedia.]

Here are excerpts from the sections of the post describing those cases:

Estonia — Rahvakogu (People’s Assembly)

This democratic innovation engaged Estonians in a nation-wide discussion about ways to improve their political system. The process combined two different democratic strategies: online engagement and a Deliberation Day event. During the online phase of the process, individuals were encouraged to make suggestions about how to improve the political system in Estonia. Topics included electoral reform, public participation, and the financing of political parties. […] The suggestions made in the online phase of the project were compiled by a team of analysts and organized into themes.

During the second phase of the process, 500 individuals were randomly selected to participate in a Deliberation Day event, of which 314 attended the event itself. At the Deliberation Day event, participants discussed the pros and cons of each theme that was identified during the online phase of the process, and they identified priorities for political reform. […]

Finland — Crowdsourcing

Finland is leading the way in policy crowdsourcing. In 2013, the Finnish Ministry for Environment and the Committee for the Future of the Parliament in Finland initiated legislative crowdsourcing to establish a new off-road traffic law. The Finnish government set up an online platform and invited everyone to contribute.

In a first phase about problem mapping, participants were invited to comment and make suggestions on ten broad topics. About 700 participants submitted 340 ideas with 2,600 comments and 19,000 votes in response to those ideas. The input was analyzed and served as the basis for a second phase, in which citizens were invited to come up with solutions for the identified topics and problems. A total of 500 views and ideas were generated in the second phase, with 4000 comments and 25,000 votes from 731 users. The website was visited by more than 14,000 citizens. […]

Ireland — Constitutional Convention

[…] the Irish Parliament (Oireachtas) initiated a Constitutional Convention with 100 delegates and an eight-point agenda of issues to discuss and propose amendments.

Delegates included a random sample of 66 citizens representative of the Irish population. Another 33 delegates were drawn from Ireland’s political parties, and the last was an independent chairman of the convention. Agenda items were to include reducing the president’s term to five years; reduce the voting age to 17; same-sex marriage; and amending the clause on the role of women in the home and encourage greater participation of women in public life.

The Convention meets on Saturdays within a 12 month period. Members are briefed prior to the formal deliberations, and a panel of academics and constitutional lawyers provide guidance. The Convention reaches a wider population via a website that allows users to submit proposals for discussion, video-streams the plenary sessions, and publishes related documents and deliberations. Matters are decided by majority vote of members present, and Parliament has to respond within four months. If it agrees with a recommendation, it must legislate a referendum to amend the Constitution. […]

For more details, please see the complete post.

Click here for our earlier post about Finland’s traffic law crowdsourcing project.

For earlier posts about Finland’s Open Ministry crowdsourced lawmaking system, please see here and here.

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