16. November 2010 – 17:49 by Institute for Electronic Participation
This year largest eDemocracy conference in South East Europe took place during 12-14th September, 2010 in Ohrid, Macedonia.
The e-Democracy Conference 2010 welcomed 30 delegations from 15 countries. 100 participants from Parliaments, Governments and Official Journals, as well as representatives from international organizations, business sector and academia were engaged in fruitful and interesting discussions about the role that ICT can play into improving the democracy and transparency of the public institutions. More information about the conference is available at https://www.edemocracy.mk.
The e-Democracy Conference 2010 topics included:
- Future and emerging technologies for e-Democracy
- Compliance and standards (EU perspective)
- How to support “Green IT” initiative in the policy development
- ICT in legislative knowledge management
- How can information technology transform the way parliaments and governments work
- Interoperability in the legislative process
- Parliaments and Democracy in the Twenty-first century
- State of ICT development in Parliaments
- ICT in parliaments current practices
- e-Parliaments-The Use of ICT to Improve Parliamentary Processes
The participants at the e-Democracy Conference 2010 agreed that the progress that Macedonia has made in using ICT for improving democracy is an example that all the countries in the region should follow.
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11. November 2010 – 11:20 by Institute for Electronic Participation
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT INFORMATION OFFICE FOR SLOVENIA, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT INFORMATION OFFICE FOR SWEDEN and PRO ET CONTRA, INSTITUTE FOR CULTURE IN DIALOGUE
invite you to join the global virtual community in an
ONLINE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CITIZENS FORUM to discuss
“IS INTERNET BECOMING THE MOST POWERFUL FORCE IN THE EUROPEAN UNION?”
with Members of the European Parliament Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD), participating from Kiberpipa, Slovenia and Christian Engström (Greens-EFA/Pirate Party) participating from Sweden.
Moderator: Simon Delakorda (Institute for Electronic Participation)
In order to participate simply go to the Online Citizens Forum Web Page https://www.evropske-razprave.si/video-stream-Ljubljana-12-11-10.
The web page will support online participation through a video stream of the discussion taking place in Kiberpipa, Ljubljana (https://www.kiberpipa.org) while your direct participation will be supported through a special chat room in which the moderator will be taking questions prior to and during the discussion.
The on-line event is going to start on Friday, November 12th 2010 at 17.30 (CET). Everyone that wishes to join us in the near virtual world is welcome to visit Kiberpipa Kersnikova 6, Ljubljana or in Kibla, Ulica kneza Koclja 9, Maribor.
(more at https://www.evropske-volitve.si/images/stories/datoteke/pamflet_Internet-Citizens-forum-2010.pdf)
* Free flow of information and services in the European Union and the protection of copyright and patent laws.
* The role of the European Union in ensuring the protection of all internet users.
* The future of information technologies and new forms of political participation with respect to the functioning and the role of the European Parliament in political life.
The event is organized by European Parliament Information Office for Slovenia, European Parliament Information Office for Sweden, Pro et Contra – Institute for Culture in Dialouge (https://www.zainproti.com) in cooperation with Kiberpipa. Web streaming of the European Parliament Citizens Forum is provided by the Institute for Electronic Participation (INePA) – https://www.inepa.si and Studio 12 – https://www.studio12.si.
The European Parliament Citizens Forum started in 2005 with the aim to bring together on the one hand European citizens, NGO representatives and on the other Members of the European Parliament, representatives of national and local authorities to discuss current European affairs.
8. September 2010 – 22:40 by Institute for Electronic Participation
According to the latest UN E-Participation Index measurement, the majority of South Eastern European countries improved their global standing regarding the quality and usefulness of information and services for the purpose of engaging its citizens in public policy making through the use of e-government programs. Nevertheless, e-participation in SEE countries is still falling behind their e-government developments. An overview of current e-participation situation in SEE within government domain will be presented, highlighting key elements needed for strengthening e-democracy in the region. One of them will be focused on non-governmental organizations and civil society e-participation experience (e.g. on-line Citizen’s forum) needed for shaping inclusive and citizens oriented e-government policy.
Link to video lecture: https://videolectures.net/forum2010_delakorda_meis/
Link to presentation: https://www.inepa.si/images/stories/mapping_edemocracy_see_region_delakorda.pdf.
Lecture presented by Simon Delakorda, M. Sc., executive director, Institute for Electronic Participation (INePA) and member of the Central and Eastern Citizens Network eParticipation expert group.
6. August 2010 – 17:28 by Institute for Electronic Participation
E-participation & E-democracy workshop was organized as a part of the Citizens Participation University 2010 which took place from 20th to 24th of July in the Civil College in Kunszentmiklós-Kunbábony (Hungary).
10 NGOs representatives and activists from Armenia, Belgium, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Poland and Romania attended the workshop.
Participants were introduced with E-participation / E-democracy concept, political documents of the Council of Europe relating to eDemocracy, current e-participation developments in Central and Eastern Europe and different e-participation tools as well as good practices. The second part of the workshop facilitated open discussion about opportunities for involving e-participation tools into current and future civil society projects in the region.
The workshop was lead by Mr. Csaba Madarász (e-democracy expert and consultant, Hungary) and Mr. Simon Delakorda, M.Sc. (Institute for Electronic Participation, Slovenia)
Citizens Participation University 2010 was organized by the Civil College Foundation and Central and Eastern European Citizens Network (CEE CN).
Csaba Madarász and Simon Delakorda
1. eParticipation in the CEE: NGO’s perspective (pdf, 4,10 mb).
Citizens Participation University 2010 participants @ CEE CN
Simon Delakorda and Csaba Madarász @ CEE CN
15. April 2010 – 17:54 by Institute for Electronic Participation
A number of civil society e-participation projects has emerged in recent years in Slovenia aiming to strengthen civil dialogue and utilize the internet to support participatory democracy. This is a 2nd contribution to the CEE CN background paper provided for the PEP-NET on-line consultation “eParticipation in Central and Eastern Europe: The big questions” (available in pdf file at the Institute for Electronic Participation web site).
The article is providing a short description of the most visible of recent e-participation initiatives implemented by the non-governmental organizations in Slovenia including:
1. Citizen’s forum European Debates (https://www.evropske-razprave.si/)
2. NGO’s e-Participation portal during the Slovenian EU Council Presidency (https://www.predsedovanje.si/)
3. Open-source NGO’s e-Participation platform for on-line civil dialogue (https://www.sodeluj.net/)
4. Slovenian Civil Society e-Participation web service (https://www.e-participacija.si/)
Simon Delakorda, M.Sc.
Institute for Electronic Participation
13. April 2010 – 12:02 by Institute for Electronic Participation
This is a short summary of the contribution to the CEE CN background paper provided for the PEP-NET on-line consultation “eParticipation in Central and Eastern Europe: The big questions“.
The table (available in pdf file from the Institute for Electronic Participation web site) representing current United Nations e-participation 2010 index measurement for CEE countries shows, that an average UN e-participation 2010 rank of the CEE region is rank 70th (+24 ranks improvement in relation to 2008) out of 178 countries included in report.
Countries with the highest level of rank improvement are TFYR Macedonia (+ 109), Bulgaria (+ 99), Romania (+ 83), and Albania (+ 66). On the hand, countries like Bosnia – Herzegovina (-37), Ukraine (- 35), Czech Republic (- 26) and Azerbaijan (- 19) are facing the largest position decrease.
Additionally, three sub groups within CEE region can be identified according to the UN e-participation 2010 ranking:
– High level e-participation countries (among the first 30 countries in the world):
Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary. All countries except Croatia in this group are a new EU member states.
– Medium level e-participation countries (ranking 31-100 in the world): Bulgaria,
Latvia, Ukraine, Republic of Belarus, Poland, TFYR Macedonia, TFYR Macedonia, Romania,
Azerbaijan, Montenegro, Albania, Czech Republic and Russia.
– Low level e-participation countries (ranking among least developed countries in
the world): Slovakia, Georgia, Armenia, Bosnia – Herzegovina and Serbia.
Additional data will be presented in the next contribution to the background paper focusing on data comparison with the EU and more detailed explanation in relation to specific e-government components (on-line services, telecommunication infrastructure and human capital) in order to provide basic insight into key eGovernment enablers for eParticipation development in CEE region.
Prepared by Simon Delakorda, M. Sc.
Institute for Electronic Participation
UN e-participation index notice: please note that this index is a very technically oriented index focusing on national governments performances only.
United Nations. 2010. E-Government Survey 2010: Leveraging E-government at a Time of
Financial and Economic Crisis (to be published). Available from https://www2.unpan.org/egovkb/global_reports/10report.htm.
United Nations. 2008. E-Government Survey 2008: From E-Government to Connected Governance. Available from https://www2.unpan.org/egovkb/global_reports/08report.htm.
6. April 2010 – 19:53 by Institute for Electronic Participation
Different on-line strategies have been employed by the non-governmental organisations in Slovenia in order to strengthen public participation on health issues. Health NGOs websites, e-petitions, e-forums and social networking tools are aiming at supporting various dimensions of public health dialogue like information provision, public discussion and generating grass roots support. For the purpose of assessing participatory impact of those on-line initiatives, several practical cases from health NGOs (on-line Citizen’s forum on Cancer issues, on-line petition for Tobacco Euro, Facebook Health NGOs site etc.) are presented and discussed in the context of current e-participation developments at the EU level.
Presentation slides are available at the Institute for Electronic Participation web site
https://www.inepa.si/images/stories/health_ngos_e-participation_iniatives_in_slovenia-delakorda.pdf (pdf, 2.10 mb). Presentation delivered at “Building Public Health Dialogue and the Role of Health NGOs in the Republic of Slovenia and the EU” international conference, organized by the the Slovenian Coalition for Tobacco Control on 26th of March 2010 in Ljubljana.
“Building Public Health Dialogue and the Role of Health NGOs in the Republic of Slovenia and the EU” conference programme
The NGOs Protect our Health project
Simon Delakorda, M.Sc.
Institute for Electronic Participation
24. March 2010 – 11:31 by Institute for Electronic Participation
Executive summary of presentation from the 11th Bled Forum on Europe Foresight Conference “The Future of Information Society and Challenges for Good Governance”, organized by the Centre for eGovernance development from 10th to 12th March 2010 in Bled, Slovenia:
According to the latest UN E-Participation Index measurement, the majority of South East Europe countries (Albania, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Romania), improved their global standing regarding the quality and usefulness of information and services for the purpose of engaging its citizens in public policy making through the use of e-government programs. Nevertheless, e-participation in SEE region is still falling behind their e-government developments. An overview of current e-participation situation in SEE within government domain is presented, highlighting key elements needed for strengthening e-democracy in the region. One of them is focusing on non-governmental organizations and civil society e-participation experience (e.g. on-line Citizen’s forum) needed for shaping inclusive and citizens oriented e-government policy.
Presentation slides are available at the Institute for Electronic Participation web site https://www.inepa.si/images/stories/mapping_edemocracy_see_region_delakorda.pdf (pdf, 1.49 mb).
As has become customary over the years the conference concluded with a draft declaration, which had been adopted by the participants of the conference. The process of formulating the declaration is based upon the main issues presented by the lecturers and highlighted by the participants in the discussions which followed.
To achieve even wider participation in the formulation of the Final Declaration of the 11th Bled Forum on Europe, your are kindly invited to provide comments, inputs, questions, add issues important to the development of information society not only in South East Europe, but around the world.
Please send your comments or your video responses to firstname.lastname@example.org until the 12th of April 2010 and make sure your voice is heard and your opinion is included in the final declaration. You can publish your comments directly to European Debates on-line forum facilitated by the Institute for Electronic Participation (INePA) by fulfilling discussion form (Please enter your Username – Uporabniško ime, message Confirmation code – Potrditvena koda and submit your comment – Pošlji. No prior forum registration is required. Forum is also available in English language). The forum is providing a deliberation space for facilitated public debates and consultations on relevant European issues.
Web links to relevant sites:
Draft declaration of the 11th Bled Forum (pdf, 71 kb)
European Debates on-line forum
Simon Delakorda, M.Sc.
Institute for Electronic Participation
23. March 2010 – 17:30 by Institute for Electronic Participation
Presentation made at the Seminar for Watchdogs held in Warsaw, 11-12th March 2010. The slides are available at the Institute for Electronic Participation web site https://www.inepa.si/images/stories/eparticipation_watchdogs_eu_delakorda.pdf (pdf, 805 kb).
The presentation is a follow up from a discussion paper E-participation – a new sphere of NGO activity? originally published in June 2009 at the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE Trust) Civil Society Forum web site https://csf.ceetrust.org/paper/19/.
E-participation – a new sphere of NGO activity?
A new sphere of NGO activity has emerged in recent years in Slovenia, as a number of NGOs have started to take a more web-based approach. A number of on-line projects have been introduced, such as the Slovenian Civil Society e-Participation web service, The Citizen’s Forum, the NGO e-Participation portal available during the Slovenian EU Council Presidency, The Citizen’s forum for the European elections 2009, Open-source NGOs e-Participation platform and the e-participation platform for NGO involvement in establishing the Law on voluntary work. These projects aim to strengthen civil dialogue and utilize the internet to support participatory democracy.
Maximizing the impact of this new arena has understandably led to some challenges and dilemmas, for the NGO sector, which we will outline here and will, hopefully, form the basis of further discussion.
The real challenge
A number of ad-hoc e-participation projects and successfully implemented applications are not seeing much traffic or interaction because internet users are simply not paying attention to them. There are three main reasons for this. Firstly, the application is intentionally or unintentionally badly promoted to the general public or focus groups. Government institutions are not usually keen to promote on-line participation tools which are already available. They fear a potential rush to participate and management problems. NGOs, on the other hand, often do not have enough resources to promote their e-participation projects on a larger scale, particularly through traditional mass media.
Secondly, the e-participation projects are focused on relatively minor or highly technical expert issues, which may be irrelevant to the general public and their quality of life. If this is the case, NGOs have a duty to explain these complex issues, relate them to everyday life experience. They have to explain to people why the issue is relevant to them and how their participation can improve the situation. Never-the-less, a much more effective way to rally people around e-participation is to base projects on public problems and policy issues, which directly concern a larger proportion of the population.
Thirdly, there is often little evidence of how these e-participation projects will impact public opinion or decision-making processes. Potential users do not know how the results of e-participation are going to shape policy issues, problems or public perception. Improving this situation requires feedback from governmental institutions and politicians, monitoring any impact on legislation or changes in public perception of a particular issue and the degree of mass media recognition. E-participation is therefore often more of a political and social challenge than a technological one.
NGO e-participation projects, although not for profit or market-oriented, are often very demanding in terms of both organizational and financial resources. Open-source Internet applications and user friendly web 2.0 applications enable NGOs to establish their own e-participation applications very quickly and with minimum costs. Whether or not an NGO successfully implements e-participation, however, depends on its mobilization capacity, decision-making impact, community building, technical security, personal data protection, moderation of on-line communication, public promotion, monitoring techniques and evaluation methods.
Most of this know-how is needed in order to establish a proper social, communication and political environment for e-participation applications. For example, when moderating an on-line policy forum or consultation, a specific set of rules usually applies to enable deliberate democratic communication and starting questions. Data is usually available to enable informed debate and messages from participants are summarized in a report at the end.
NGOs facilitating e-participation projects often need to have at their disposal expert and in-depth understanding of complex decision-making, policy-making and public opinion forming processes, especially at the level of EU institutions.
Furthermore, new skills are required when facilitating and building up social networks and communities as a part of e-participation projects. This includes using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flicker and providing messages through different formats and features on-line. As the most successful e-participation projects are the ones which are most sustainable, NGOs have to provide long-term, diverse human and technological input to keep up with rapidly evolving Internet technology.
Coordinating off-line and on-line participation
The digital divide is often cited as a barrier to e-participation. Older generations are generally less likely to have the proper skills required to use new information and communication technologies. Marginalized groups within society often do not have proper Internet access, allowing it to be dominated by white, well-educated people.
It has been suggested that the democratic potential of the Internet is strengthening the political power of those who are already information-rich and empowered. The Internet therefore supports the existing balance of power in favour of political elites.
For these reasons it is vital that e-participation projects implemented by NGOs play a part in real-time processes and are connected to live events and discussions in order to enable the participation of people who are unable to utilize the latest technology.
For example, the on-line Citizens forum for the European elections 2009 enabled e-participation through a system of e-points, positioned at live public events. Facilitated by a moderator, these e-points provided access to laptops. Paper questionnaires were also distributed with the results later published in an on-line debate.
NGOs deliver both top-down and bottom-up e-participation projects and applications. The first are usually co-financed by government institutions on a local, national or EU level. The second are usually co-financed by the NGO foundations, networks or implemented by NGOs themselves.
As top-down e-participation projects such as e-consultations, e-panels, participatory budgeting and e-legislation are promoted and supported by government institutions, they have a higher degree of public visibility. They are also more likely to impact policy or legislation directly.
On the other hand, because these government institutions have a greater degree of ownership over the project, they can hijack the e-participation process and adapt it to their specific goals. These are often related to legitimizing governmental agendas, as was the case with the NGO e-Participation portal for the Slovene EU Council Presidency.
Bottom up e-participation projects such as e-activism and e-campaigning are used by NGOs to coordinate, organize, finance and engage the public. They aim to mobilize and gain support or deliver a political message as a part of political campaigns, as was the case with the Open-source NGOs e-Participation platform.
Grass-roots activities like e-petitions, e-questionnaires, Facebook groups and blogs do not usually represent part of a formal or institutionalized policy-making process and are therefore providing much needed input from citizens in relation to government institutions, based on the principle of participatory democracy. This can, however, sometimes result in conflict with a government or a stalemate in the decision-making process. In order to overcome this kind of dichotomy, a new NGO participatory community multi-media project in Slovenia has been exploring new possibilities for video e-participation 2.0, such as Studio 12). Top down e-participation is more efficient but bottom up e-participation is more legitimate.
Looking for success in e-democracy
NGO e-participation projects in Slovenia clearly demonstrate the democratic value of the Internet, especially when providing information and data related to decision-making process. This was the case with the Slovene Civil Society e-Participation web service which provided information and opportunities for citizens and NGOs to e-participate in different policy-making processes. Meanwhile, the NGO e-Participation portal for the EU Council Presidency enabled document provision, raising EU policy awareness, strengthening transparency and enhancing public visibility of the Slovene Presidency.
On the other hand the challenges of justifying such initiatives as forms of e-democracy and funding still remain. Firstly, meeting social expectations related to the depth of on-line discussions and deliberation is demanding additional efforts in perceiving Internet technology as a truly interactive technology within decision-making processes.
Secondly, the political expectations behind providing concrete evidence of the inclusion of citizen and NGO contributions into final decisions, documents or policies are often not realized. For this purpose a proper evaluation framework or methodology for the effects of e-democracy should be created. The latter is especially important when reflecting on imaginary and fake top down e-participation projects conducted by governments and public relations agencies.
The future of NGO e-participation
A number of challenges therefore remain for NGOs keen to get involved in e-participation. They must develop effective ways of linking on-line and off-line participation, thereby tackling the digital divide.
They must also reflect critically on institutional, top-down public relations and technocratic-oriented attempts at e-democracy introduced by political elites and governments.
Successful examples of NGO e-participation need to be promoted to the general public through the media, thereby creating more public awareness.
Transparency of e-participation, inclusiveness and personal data protection must be secured in order to build confidence and the conditions necessary for e-participation need to be cultivated further.
NGOs need to create focused and sustainable e-participation projects and cement their role as e-participation facilitators.
Finally NGOs need to successfully manage their e-participation resources. They need to build up a catalogue of professional skills in on-line engagement and participatory process management. They need to accept that e-participation needs to appeal to the general public as a means of improving quality of life. E-participation needs to become personal.
E-participation initiatives clearly come with more political and social issues and dilemmas than technological ones. This gives debates on e-participation additional relevance, as they are framed and conceptualized by debates on the future development of political democracy.
Simon Delakorda & Matej Delakorda
 www.e-participacija.si/forum_EU / www.epractice.eu/en/cases/citizensforum07
 www.predsedovanje.si/en / www.epractice.eu/en/cases/predsedovanjesi08
 The Institute for Electronic Participation was established in 2007 as the first Slovene non-profit non-governmental civil society organisation professionally focusing on eDemocracy, eParticipation, eGovernance, eInvolvement and eInclusion. INePA experts and professionals have been the main architects behind most of the largest and most successful e-democracy projects in Slovenia. (www.inepa.eu).
References used in this article:
1. Delakorda, Simon / Delakorda, Matej (2009) Contribution to democratization of the EU Council presidency: NGOs e-participation portal Predsedovanje.si. The International Conference on eParticipation: ePart 2009.1st-3rd of September 2009. Linz, Austria. To be published.
2. Delakorda, Simon (2007) Digital Age – A Stronger Democratic Role of Non-Governmental Organisations in the EU? The Our Europe project. Available on-line https://www.ourdebate.eu/index.php?oldal=hirek&id_hirek=73.
3. Delakorda, Simon (2007) Citizen’s Forum: The first successful eDemocracy initiative in the Republic of Slovenia? eChallenges 2007 conference & Exhibition, 24th-26th of October 2007. Den Haag, The Netherlands. Available on-line https://www.inepa.si/images/stories/citizens_forum-delakorda-echallenges07-final.pdf.
Simon Delakorda, M.Sc., (1978) is a full time eDemocracy/eParticipation practitioner & researcher and founding director of the Institute for Electronic Participation in Ljubljana. Starting in 2000, he participated in most of an early internet democracy projects within university and NGO’s sector in Slovenia. He is an author and co-author of articles and case studies and conference speaker on democracy, political participation, active citizenship, non-governemental organizations and government on-line. He received his political science B.Sc. degree on e-democracy in 2002 and M.Sc. degree on e-participation in 2009. He worked as an e-democracy course associate and researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana, as a co-founder and head of the Centre of Electronic Democracy at the Institute of Ecology and as an e-democracy associate at the Arctur IT Company Ltd. In 2004 and 2006 participated in preparation of the Slovenian eGovernment policy documents. During 2006-2007 he coordinated and managed the E-participacija web portal and moderated the first successful e-democracy experiment in Slovenia – the Citizen’s Forum. In 2007 he founded the Institute for Electronic Participation (INePA). His current projects and research focus includes e-participation 2.0 at the EU level institutions and civil society. He is a member of the Slovenian Political Science Association. He received awards and experts recognitions as an e-democracy student, moderator and facilitator and is currently the affiliated expert of the Demonet: the eParticipation network.
Matej Delakorda is a project manager and IT expert. In 2007 he obtained his University Degree in Sociology at Unversity of Ljubljana. In his career he has been involved in developing and maintaining eDemocracy and eParticipation web applications. He is a president of management board of Institute for Electronic Participation and a project manager in Studio 12 which is a Slovene multimedia Center and Internet TV station. Among his bigger IT projects were: non-governmental organizations portal for the period of Slovene EU Presidency, web portal for democratic e-participation of Slovenian citizens, NGO’s and civil society, video portal and independent multimedia production that covers issues of ecology, society and human relationships.