The main goal of the opensource e-democracy Facebook App is to involve the society into the political decision making process by establishing a direct bilateral dialogue with the decision makers. The system represents a new dimension in tracking and evaluating the legislative process. It further helps the public to become fully informed and in uploading private legislative initiatives and proposals.
What is it for?
- To find out about proposals and to study them: the app allows citizens to find out in detail about those national and municipal proposals that affect them. These proposals are made available in full, and an additional summary in easy-to-understand, short, clear and to the point language helps to ensure that readers can understand them fully.
- For information: users can find out about the law proposals themselves, as well as the argument for and against each of them, by browsing the articles, opinion pieces, interviews, videos and radio excerpts that have appeared or been broadcast in the media in relation to them.
- To express an opinion and vote: those affected by the proposals can start a debate, or vote to indicate their position, thereby providing feedback to political decision makers, and even exerting political pressure.
- To upload private proposals: users can upload their own proposals, which the members of the community can discuss, debate and vote on. Initiatives that receive the necessary level of support may form the basis of a petition for a referendum.
How does it work?
Civilzone functions as a system independent from governments and political parties: the contents are uploaded by administrators delegated by NGOs or nominated by the community who also moderate the comments.
The application allows users to access information in the way they are used to and which they prefer, i.e. through their own walls, and to use the system in a manner similar to the functions on Facebook. The application is therefore easily understood and handled by the users.
- Proposals are displayed in a Facebook News Feed style display, and are browsable by administrative unit (town, region, country, EU, etc.), and by area of politics (health, education, etc.). Users can initiate debates and can vote on whether they support or oppose motions proposed by others.
- Each administrative unit has its own group.
- Apart from regional and national issues, there is a separate group for EU issues, and another group for Global issues: the former will be open to all EU citizens, the latter will be open to all users, and will serve as a platform for discussions of issues that affect us all, such as human rights and the environment.
- The app will automatically store information (articles, blog entries) related to the proposals in question, as well as the major arguments for and against them, thereby helping those less versed in the particular issue to make up their minds, and providing a basis for a deeper and better-informed debate over the issue in question.
- Proposals will be catalogued and published on an easy-to-use surface with a web2-enabled search function.
- Demonstrations, e-petitions can be organized around particular proposals. These can be searched by time, region and political area.
- Users’ proposals will be displayed in a separate News Feed. Proposals that receive the necessary level of support may form the basis of a petition for a referendum.
Within the Civilzone parliament there are no functions, committees and supervisory boards; the administrators delegated by various non-governmental organizations and in charge of operating the system carry out only preparation and moderation activities.
Depending on their political affiliations users can join groups or factions, they can create their own Facebook profile and forums, they can organize sessions, events and protests, which can be posted on Civilzone.
- Comments may be posted for specific motions only after the voting.
- Comments related to motions are displayed in the YES/NO column side by side according to the vote cast by the user.
- Anyone can post comments for the comments.
- Comments may be liked.
- Based on the number of likes the five most popular comments and linked blog entries or posts are listed at the top of the debate forum, below which are any other comments sorted in a decreasing order of time.
- Comments are moderated by admins (moderators).
Popularity index of public figures
Civilzone shall log the activities of district MPs, parliamentary MPs and political leaders on a continuous basis and users can evaluate their work and send feedback of their work. This will in turn generate a real-time, direct and credible popularity index.
As an option, the iFrame will enable any user to initiate a voting on their own blog / page.
- publish the full text of motions;
- designate tags for motions;
- categorize motions (e.g. health care, finance, media, etc., or according to the respective ministry);
- establish the geographic scope of the motion (countries, counties, cities – hereinafter as “public administration unit”);
- determine the type of motions (draft legislation, motion for amendment of legislation, etc.);
- name the submitter of the motion;
- specify the subject of the motion in a maximum of X words;
- specify the subject of the motion in a maximum of X words;
- provide any additional parameters (date of submission, date of planned entry into effect, date of voting, identification of the competent institutes and ministries and the institutes and ministries concerned, identification of those concerned by the motion, etc.);
- prepare a brief and easy to interpret extract from the text of the original motion, limited to a maximum of X words;
- set the voting parameters (e.g. a minimum of 50% or 2/3 required, conditions of validity, etc.);
- publish the results of IRL votes;
- select the “key votes”, which are displayed at the top of the main page.
Benefits for Society
Who may use it?
- Anyone who activates the application on his own Facebook profile will receive continuous news feed onto his respective.
- The application may be attributed to the Facebook group or Facebook fan page created by any community, organisation or institution.
- In every EU member state a central Facebook Civilzone page will be created where a local civic organisation will administer the moderation and the uploading of the contents in relation to the member state in question.
Former similar initiatives
Over the past 10 year the European Union has financed more that 70 projects within the programmes of eParticipation and similar programmes aimed at implementing e-democracy with a total cost of EUR 187 million. Their aims were very diverse which some attempted to realise at local, regional, national or European levels using various technologies and methods.
Concluded eParticipation projects:
All eParticipation projects failed so far. The reasons of failure may be summarised as listed below:
- application of obsolete and badly planned technologies,
- difficult to use and complicated technologies,
- inadequate planning of the graphical user interface, making the application nothing more than a toy for bored professors,
- inefficient operation and development due to slow decision making by multinational consortia comprising many members,
- all projects were short lived – the majority only operated while the subsidies were granted as no operational expenses were taken into consideration after subsidisation – their social and political impact therefore may be regarded as marginal.
What makes Civilzone different?
- It is based on the most modern technologies available.
- As a system developed on the Facebook-platform, it potentially accesses several hundred million users.
- Its use is practical for the Facebook users, not requiring training.
- The design is planned in consideration of the most recent trends by preparing a lively, modern and attractive interface which may raise the interest of the entire society.
- The application will automatically select the most popular pro and contra arguments in the discussion of the law proposals generating a quality discussion useful for presenting arguments and counterarguments.
- An international network will be created to undertake the operational tasks (creation of contents, moderation, etc.) involving the local civic organisations interested in the introduction of e-democracy and the intensification of social awareness and activity.
- The operational expenses are intended to be covered from civic sources and/or from the contribution of sponsors.
- The civic organisations participating in the operation will be directly interested in the sustained operation and active status of the system.