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E-democracy on Internethajó (boat)? How to avoid it?

28. May 2009 – 21:34 by Civil College

There has been an event, called Internetboat in Hungary, which primary focus is shifting each year – 2009 theme has been the vast plan for the Hungarian “Digital Public Works”, and the communicational activities from the government behind.

It is widly known, that these kind of events although trying to push together some stakeholders of the fields around the “Digital Public Works”, but the success is mainly based on the organizers creativity.

One interesting thing beside the real reason, why I am typing this article, is a programme from the Hungarian Telecottage Association – called the Digital Solidarity Catalogue.

It is in an old fashioned e-book format from Flipviewer – for me I see no reason, why not to use the internet for these kind of publishing acts – which is a collection of IT programs from different areas with a social focus. It is a nice collection with strong focus on Hungary.

During the last year, it has become obvious for most of us, that the culture of e-democracy is widely embedded in different political cultures of each country – and Hungary is in the disadvantaged group right know.

A strong representation for this, is in a slide – and a speech – which has been held by dr. Akos Balint, the programme leader of the Hungarian National Development Agenency’s (responsible for the EU-money programs) Public Service Reform Directional Program.

As can be seen on this slide – the EKOP programme for public service reform has 5 levels. It has been said, that this is align with the EU (?) structure of CLBPS (Common list of basic public services).

No doubt for us, that E-democracy is not part of the CLBPS, although, it has some relation to all levels. We should have the question in our mind – what is the reason for putting the power and trust that e-democracy can offer to societies to such a place, that will not have and support? 

In my understanding, one solution, that mr.Bálint do not really know, what is e-democracy.

The other one is there is no real reason in the mind of the decision makers, to support e-democracy in Hungary from these programmes… I do not really want to choose.

e-democracy as CLBPS fifth

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E-democracy Workshop Association – event in Hungary

27. April 2009 – 16:29 by Civil College

With a small press coverage, about 30 participants has been enjoying various dreams, observing concrete projects and hearing different voices about e-democracy.

The association leader, Laszlo János has made clear his view on e-democracy in Hungary: although everything is present on the material plane for e-democracy, nor the civil society, nor the state realizes the potential bower that is behind the term.

The first presenter has been Madarász Csaba, one of the 2 INGO – the Council of Europe International civil society board  – representatives of the CAHDE workgroup, member of Pep-net through the CEE Citizens Network has higlighted the basic nature of e-democracy, giving concrete examples from Hungary, never tagged with e-democracy to get know the existing basics of the term. His presentation made with the Hungarian startup, introduction has been followed the CEU Associate Professor in Political Sciences, Miklos Sükösd, who has introduced the new Hungarian political movement, the LehetMásaPolitika (Politics can be different) e-campaign strategy, as a XS-size clone of Obama’s e-campaign.

Robert Puzser, a journalist has been talking about the democratic deficit, which makes the situation not to pulse around the e-factor.

Kovács Kálmán, the former Minister of Communications and Informatics, has been partly accepted the sharp critqutes around the current political culture. He has made his point vehemently clear, that the whole society is under a big change, as we have entered to the information society. After about 30 minutes, he has left, but said, it is a really important issue.

Participants has been really accepting the new philosophical challenge of a new “metaparty”, introduced by Balazs Szegf?, internet-economist from Guangxi,  which he co-run with a famous Hungarian mathematician, game researcher, László Mér?. In theory, the new generations are the possibly new political activists, who can make the change, towards a real internet-democratic enviroment. He has highlighted with numbers, that we do not need so much people to create change, but more of a well organized group of people with some daily time spent on such purposes about half an hour.

The recently introduced IDE (Internet Democracy Party) founder, Attila Bognar, a former public servant(in Balázs Szekf?’s words, the Hippy from Gyöngyös) has made their concept clear about how and why are their doing their activity – mostly avarege internet users, who make sympathy with the trikcy movement of sending 60 representatives to the EP except one, during the 60 months period of a candidate.

Imre Csizi, the founder of the term and the background of FamilyRepresentatives theory, has questioned of the Hungarian term for power (we have two meanings for power- one, is related with energy, the other one is more like the quality of power, that a king has) and gave up some intersting questions to think about in the relation of family, power and democracy.

The debate was really high after the presentations, and the warm kindness of the Intependent Media Center just right in the neighbour of the Transparency International Hungary has made the event significant.

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Unbalance citizen participation in EP elections – coded in the voting systems?

27. April 2009 – 11:24 by Civil College

This post is to highlight – although, we live in the same Europe, and have the same European Parliamentary representatives fighting for our interests (lol), the way, how they appear is really different.

In Hungary, for example only political parties can nominate EP candidates – through a list. This is somehow not only undemocratic, but if we take a look at the circumstances, they seem like artificial obstacles on the road, towards Bruxelles.

In Denmark, the situation is the same – only parties can nominate candidates (or it was a few years ago)

The first one-  collecting the needed “supporting papers”.

In Hungary, you have to collect 20.000 for each party, who would like to appear on the list – in Finland it is 2000.

In Austria, where individuals can also be candidates without the party background, 2400 is the entry, and in Holland, 25 is enough, with 25 000 krones deposit, while in Luxemburg it is 250.

The UK is really different. You need only 30 supporters, and 5000 pounds to be on the menu.

These examples are to raise the attention and the hopeful debate around the issue of equality around the EP elections.

For me, it is obvious, that there is no place for such national characteristics in European democracy, where citizens are only capable to be elected as candidates in the EP, if they are members of a political party.

If there will be a constitution, it has to address this issue clearly. My other concern is, that possibly, not the EP, nor the Commission is responsible for these kind of questions.

What is in your mind?


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Internet Democracy Party in Hungary

23. April 2009 – 10:38 by Civil College

There are quite new “applicants” in this years EP elections all over Europe – small-big European parties now eligible Europewide for nominating candidates for the elections (for example

One, not among these bigger players has recieved attention in Hungary, by offering internet demorcacy, as a way and basic construction for representation.

By the volunteers run campaign, the party emphasizes, that they are planning to win one seat – and send each month one person from the supporters. It means, that by a number-generator method, 60 average citizen will have the opportunity to be a representative in the EP during the 5 years.

The concept of representation is simple – the party would like to develop from certain part of the salaries of the representative a system, which will make eligible the pary-community to influence directly the representative through a secure voting system.

Their presence in the politica arena two important things – people, without the knowledge of scientifical terms and concepts of e-democracy and e-participation (I know they don’t have) are reinventing things on their own way, only by “mirroring” internet to governance structures. The second thing is that people are seem to be open for these kind of political flicks.

Do you have any similar example in your country?

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Let the sun shine in the EU as well – results from the Government2.0Camp

8. April 2009 – 23:55 by Civil College

The USA is having a hot period of reforming the government through web2.0 and participatory models – it has become quite obvious during the last times. It does also mean, that NGO’s are helping to find the best policy through various means.

The leader of IT and transparency mashups, the Sunlight Foundation’s president, Elen Miller has collected the results in the official SunlightFoundationBlog of the mentioned Government2.0 Camp, which has been held in a Barcampstyle.

The video and the 10 points can be found below – the post is here!

Ten Measures for Transparency Success from Gov 2.0 on Vimeo.
1.    Open data: The federal government should make all data searchable, findable and accessible.
2.    Disclose spending data: The government should disclose how it is spending taxpayer dollars, who is spending it and how it’s being spent.
3.    Procurement data: How does the government decide where the money is getting spent, who gets it, how they are spending it and how can we measure success.
4.    Open portal for public request for information: There should be a central repository for all Freedom of Information Act requests that are public to that people can see in real time when the requests come in, how fast the government responds to them.
5.    Distributed data: The government should make sure it builds redundancy in their system so that data is not held in just one location, but held in multiple places in case of a disaster, terrorist attack or some other reason where the data is damaged. Redundancy would guarantee government could rebuild the data for future use.
6.    Open meetings: Government meetings should be open to the public so that citizens can tell who is trying to influence government. All schedules should be published as soon as they happen so that people can see who is meeting with whom and who is trying to influence whom.
7.    Open government research: Currently, when government conducts research, it usually does not report the data it collects until the project is finished. Government should report its research data while its being collected in beta form. This would be a measure of transparency and would change the relationship that people have to government research as it is being collected.
8.    Collection transparency: Government should disclose how it is collecting information, for whom are they collecting the data, and why is it relevant. The public should have the ability to judge whether or not it valuable to them, and giving them the ability to comment on it.
9.    Allowing the public to speak directly to the president: Recently, we saw the president participate in something called “Open for Questions,” where he gave the public access to ask questions. This allowed him to burst his bubble and be in touch with the American public directly is another measure of transparency.
10.    Searchable, crawl able and accessible data: If the government were to make all data searchable, crawl able and accessible we would go along way in realizing all the goals presented at the Gov 2.0 Camp.

I have to say, this is for the USA. But how about the EU?

What do we have from here? I assume, not much – the recently adopted transparency initiative is really weak – this means, that there is a significant need to have an entity, that draws the light into data formats, standardization and citizen requirements. In this continent, this is a hard stuff. Since we have many organizations, from Mysociety to Transparency International, and the cooperation, the common project developments has just been started recently.

But how do we feel inside ourselves, as a group of people, who already know, how important transparency is for real e-participation?

What kind of transparency do the e-participation players require here- keeping in mind, that real, non-e and e-participation can only based on real and accurate information- the basis of accountability and transparency.

(get some inspiration at , EU related issue hereTransparency on Euractive)

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Social Actions – and Ning for Non-profits online conversation

26. March 2009 – 17:04 by Civil College

Social Actions is a website, that aggregate information related to social change focused applications. Here are two events, that can draw your attention.

Change the Web Challenge, its contest – with a deadline for submission April 3rd.

Developers are uploading their inspiring web applications and widgets that draw on our open database of 70,000+ opportunities to make a difference from 50+ action sources. The submission form closes on April 3rd.

Here are three ways to get involved:

1. Build your own Social Actions-powered web application by April 3rd and win up to $5,000. Enter your submission to the project gallery.
2. Add stars and comments to the submissions in the Change the Web Challenge project gallery. The developers working on these applications are hungry for feedback.
3. Tell your friends about the contest by posting a link to the Change the Web Challenge homepage on Twitter and Facebook as well as your own website.

Ning for Nonprofits – Change the Web Conversation Series

Visitors are invited to join in a live and open online chat to discuss how your nonprofit or organization can use Ning – a platform that enables you to create your own social network.

This is your opportunity to share experiences and ask questions about how nonprofits and orgs can build and engage your community by creating and facilitating your own social network powered by Ning.

Featured Guests:
Manny Hernandez, Author of Ning for Dummies, President of Diabetes Hands Foundation
Athena Von Oech, Vice President of Community Management at Ning
Jaime Peters, Program and Technology Manager, The White House Project
Moderator: Christine Egger, Social Actions
The community will be invited to ask questions, share ideas, and in general rock the discussion!

“Ning for Nonprofits” is part of the Change the Web Conversation Series, a series of open chats that explore specific technology platforms for good, running concurrent with the Change the Web Challenge.

Recommended not only for NGO’s!

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Referendum for transparency of Hungarian MP’s expenses

26. March 2009 – 10:55 by Civil College

A success story of offline media

At least 525,000 verified signatures have been collected, far more than the mandatory 200,000, in support of a referendum on MPs’ expenses. Maria Seres
The idea behind the initiative is that MPs be compelled to provide invoices for any expenses claimed – which is not yet a case in Hungary. After the time cosuming signature collection, driven and organized by a Mother of 4.

The person who initiated the referendum drive, Mária Seres, told reporters later in the day that this is the first time that an individual managed to collect so many signatures for a referendum, althoug, the road was really bumpy. Her website has been hacked several times, and rumours has been taking place about her political relations.

But what was the biggest support for the case, is the role of a Hungarian daily tabloid newspaper, Blikk, which has give a whole page for the initiative and offered a signature sheet to be cut out.

This action raised with more than 300,000 thousand signatures on one weekend!

I am fairly sure, that both offline and online media has a different role to play when citizen initiatives like Maria Seres’s are taking place – this success story of media responsibility for important social cases could drive more and more players of the media filed to show and practice more direct support.

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Resampling of government founded website

10. November 2008 – 13:19 by Civil College

and other citizen based approaches to change IT usage of Hungarian Government.

Since the Hungarian Taxation office has been producing the necesarry taxation program only for Windows based coputers, and has decided that all Hungarian businesses now have to submit their tax returns on-linem. The solution made online taxation not working for non-microsoft based computers, encouraging some of the Hungarian IT businessmen battleing against the ridiculous segregation.

“Why should a Hungarian national and EU citizen be forced to buy proprietary American software in order to communicate with his Government? There are many, many ways that a government can collect data on-line without forcing its citizens to buy expensive and unreliable foreign software.”

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View from the grassroot

3. October 2008 – 14:22 by Civil College

Since Hungarian language is a bit different from latin languages, the term, e-democracy and e-participation sounds really childish and does not give back the meaning behind. However, for us, community developers the terms like e-democracy and e-participation might have a different meaning as well – it might be some good and usable things here for our communities.

The language barrier, the lack of common meaning is not the only problem if we are looking for initiatives, projects that are labelled as e-participation in Hungary. There are two other significant factors, that are helping e-participation to stay hidden for the investigating eyes.

The uncertainity of the w.r.s

  1. If an organization uses eparticipation tools (which are normally not called in the technological jargon e-participatory tools) it is likely to happen, that will not think about these tools, services as e-participation, so it will be “tagged” differently and stay hidden.
  2. There is no such initiative to make the meaning common and widespread. There are suppliers around the organizations with technological background, and there are advisors and officials, who has never heard about such things like that. Thus, the level of public trust towards politicians are extremely low every year- according to the annual study, which is carried out during the Citizen Participation Week, in late September each year. So we can not really trust in their initiative power – as citizens.

The situation might be similar in many countries. But what seems to be a bigger problem, that e-participation and e-democracy is an unknown among the most journalists and scientists as well. Maybe this is not surprising, since democracy is a really new thing in Hungary, where people get used to follow dictation for decades, and the roots of fear from power and hopelessness to change the political elit has become one of our nations characteristics. But it is not only about the political elit’s behaviour – it is also about the general attitude towards learning, and citizenship culture.

It seems like that the only rich soil for e-participation are in the grassroots – in Hungary, among those, who understand technology, ready to apply their knowledge on a civil base. These things mostly happen by interest groups, as a reflection to unequal, or semi-democratic institutional behavior.

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Theyworkforus! –

6. June 2008 – 14:53 by Civil College

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.

Screenshot of

Today’s announcement, the opening of the 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).

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