As an online platform that acts as an intermediary between Andalusian towns and citizens, specific issues and action items can be discussed and voted upon by registered users. Policy proposals can also be submitted to Municipal Governments, some having been officially adopted.
Problems and Purpose
Participa en Andalucía is an e-Democracy platform promoted by the Regional Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Enterprise of Andalusia and managed by the Fernando de los Ríos Consortium since May 2008. It acts as an intermediary between Andalusian towns and their citizens by promoting participation in public decision making on specific issues and action items that can be discussed and voted upon by the registered users on the platform. It allows users to present and discuss policy proposals with the Municipal Governments associated with the platform; some of them have become actual initiatives.
The general issue this platform aims to tackle is the growing distance between citizens and governments in modern democratic societies. An additional matter of concern is that of providing small Municipalities with low budget shares dedicated to ICT the means to fully grasp the potential benefits of electronic participation.
Background History and Context
The e-Democracy project was designed within the framework of the “citizens participation” strategic line of the Andalusian Plan for Modernisation, Innovation and the Development of the Information Society, which was run by the Regional Ministry of Innovation, Science and Enterprise.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Regional Ministry of Innovation, Science and Enterprise runs the platform in collaboration with the Fernando de los Rios Consortium.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The platform is open to all but requires registration to comment/vote on proposals. Non-registered users can only see proposals. Municipalities are free to join the platform if their representatives agree to accept and respond to the public feedback on the proposals.
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The Regional Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Enterprise runs the platform in collaboration with the Fernando de los Rios Consortium. Andalusian Municipalities join the initiative by committing themselves to an online presence on the plaform with their own representatives and to making an assessment of all the proposals received. Registered users (citizens, associations, or political parties) can select the Municipality they want to submit a proposal to, then launch their proposals by posting on the blog and opening a discussion on them. The other users can visualise existing proposals (if anonymous) and also send comment and cast votes on them (if they are registered). The Municipality representatives can grade the proposals according to their feasibility and compliance with the rules of participation. Some of them can actually be implemented as real policy actions.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
A growing number of Andalusian Municipalities — now more than one third — and now several thousands of citizens — has joined the platform. Quite a few hundreds of proposals have been raised on the platform and some of them actually realised.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Specific Effort Made to Address Disadvantaged Groups
Socially excluded groups: The aim is to extend the use of information and communication technologies to people who lack access for social, cultural or financial reasons. This includes groups that find themselves in a position of disadvantage such as socially excluded groups, migrant associations, youth shelters, and hospitalised adults and children.
Senior and disabled citizens: Specific actions are carried out to show the usefulness and benefits of information and communication technologies in daily life, and for entertainment purposes. Programmes aimed at showing dependent persons the benefits of information and communication technologies are currently under development, taking into account their particular characteristics and needs. Actions include training for the use of devices, platforms and services specifically conceived to increase their level of independence and their quality of life, providing incentives for the purchase of technical aids.
Women: Specific training actions are implemented for women, giving priority to those who belong to socially and digitally excluded groups. The aim is not only training them in the use of new technologies, but also to help them integrate in work and society, thus improving their quality of life.
Specific Effort Made to Strengthen Democratic Capacities
The project itself is aimed at user empowerment and the building up of innovative collaboration channels among citizens and between citizens and governments.
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Participa en Andalucia homepage [BROKEN LINK]
Presentación de Participa en Andalucía [English]
ePractice.eu - Participa en Andalucía [English]
The original version of this case study first appeared on Vitalizing Democracy in 2010 and was a contestant for the 2011 Reinhard Mohn Prize. It was originally submitted by Francesco Molinari.