The Hungarian landscape of e-democracy is like the Great Hungarian Plain. There are no hills on this field and the soil is ready for good seeds. The Hungarian e-government developments and strategy from the central government are not following the path of the fruitful cooperation with the civil sector, in a case, where democratic processes and e-technology is opening a new area for good investments from the leaders, authorities and governmental agencies, just like the citizens.
The lack of a government wide e-democracy strategy in this particular case, we will see is giving space a fairly good example coming from the civil society, with a some help from the parts of the government.
Today’s announcement, the opening of the ertunkvannak.hu portal counts as a unique example in this country, where above the cultural deficit of democracy, the language barriers are also affecting the spread and contextualization of e-participation culture and projects (we have no word for e-participation, and the direct translation sounds terrible).
ERTUNKVANNAK.HU is long waited clone of Mysociety’s theyworkforyou site, with reduced functionality. For those, who are not in touch with the international e-participation landscape, we have to tell, that both sites are giving services from the public database of the House of Parliament by adding a more citizen friendly surface to gain information about the work of the MPs.
The Hungarian project was initiated by the Social Innovation Foundation, developed by DSRDR Ltd in six months and sponsored by the National Civil Fund and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, by providing two grants (12 000 and 5000 Euros) for the project.
However the Hungarian site steps a little bit further by starting services to follow the work of the Hungarian representatives of the European Parliament as well, and offering a possibility to follow the speeches by non MPs in the Parliament, and feeding the news from the media related to an MP or EP. The commenting system is working fine, but visually it obviously needs some fine-tuning for better accessibility.
In comparison with the “British Brother”, the service take a few steps backwards paralell, by not giving all the useful functions (statistics, voting on written answers, writing directly to MPs/EPs, e-mail alerts, and voting records) to the citizens, and having the source code of the service closed. (although, they have been talking about to opening the API’s soon)
In the next development phase they will focus on establishing the service for online consultation with the representatives, which is a nice feature with a lot of technical possibilities to be built in. In their plans is clear, that they want to use the site during the elections to provide extra information, and putting progress to build in the functions to follow the work of committees as well (right now, the committee’s websites are not so frequently updated).
The moderation of comments is still hanging in the air – there is no plan, how to do it. From the experience of similar project, I am sure, this will be one of the hottest areas of this project in the following months.