Purpose: To promote and advocate digital tools among local residents and governments for the purpose of developing participatory and innovative democracy.
Duration: 24 July 2017 – 31 January 2018
Budget: Total project costs $8.480,00 USD (U.S. Embassy Ljubljana NGO Small Grants Program $5.000,00 USD; project partners contribution $3.480,00 USD).
1) Involving local residents, civil society and decision-makers in planing of Internet tool that will support participatory development of local municipalities strategies, participatory budgeting and assessing transparency of spending public money.
2) Promoting, advocating and raising awareness among local residents, civil society and decision-makers on how to use Internet for improving democracy in their communities.
3) Receiving expression of interest from at least one local municipality in Gorenjska and Savinjska region to adopt Internet tool and to follow up the project by implementing Internet tool within local municipality.
1) To conduct field research in Gorenjska in Savinjska region for the purpose of collecting original data on local residents needs and proposals on how to use Internet for improving democracy in their communities. Research will use an on-line questionnaire, face-to-face interviews and regional workshops in city of Kranj and city of Velenje.
2) To debate results from field research at the national conference at National Council of the Republic of Slovenia in Ljubljana and to present best cases of local e-democracy and to discuss contemporary challenges of citizens’ digital participation with internationally recognized expert Mr. Steven Clift.
3) To advocate and establish collaboration with decision-makers based on policy recommendations for local governments on how to use digital tools for improving democracy at the municipality level in Slovenia, including proposal (layout) of an online service that will support local residents participation in formulating development of local municipalities strategies, participatory budgeting and assessing transparency of municipalities project spending.
Results from field research, national debate and promotion of best practices will enable applicant INePA and project partners IPAK in TREE to develop a robust backing to justify, promote and advocate digital tools among local residents and governments for the purpose of developing participatory and innovative democracy. On-line survey and workshop will provide valuable inputs for developing meaningful recommendations for local authorities and offer them a feasible layout for developing on-line tools for improving anti-corruption, strengthening good governance and advancing transparency of local municipalities. Proposed activities are expected to strengthen civil society both on local and national level in addressing important societal concerns such as public distrust in political institutions and low voter turnout at local elections.
Expected long term effects:
- increased awareness (popularization) among residents, civil society and decisionmakers in Slovenia on how to use Internet for improving democracy in their local communities;
- continuous effort by applicant and partners that will ultimately lead to implementation of Internet tool supporting local residents participation in decision-making;
- established direct connection between experts in e-democracy from United States of America and Slovenia;
Project impact for Slovenia:
- Contributing to political commitments in Slovenia on strengthening local residents participation in decision-making (National Strategy of local self-government development until 2020).
- Sharing good practices on local e-democracy from United States of America among Slovenian citizens, civil society and decision-makers as a part of conference in National Council.
- Networking of experts from United States of America and Slovenia in e-democracy field.
- Establishing a practical case on how to implement method of public deliberation in addressing important societal concern on local level in Slovenia (low voter turnout, public distrust in politicians, residents dissatisfaction with functioning of democratic institutions).
- Voter turnout in local elections in Slovenia is in decline and has reached the lowest margin 43 % during the last local elections in 2014;
- There is a broad public dissatisfaction with functioning of democracy in Slovenia (only 13 % of respondents were satisfied with democracy in 2014 – National Politbarometer research). Dissatisfaction triggered Maribor protests (conflict) in 2012;
- There is a distrust in elected politicians. For an example, the local government act which would have introduced the option of an early recall of mayors in local municipalities was on political agenda recently;
- Slovenia is ranged below average in European Union in percentage of individuals communicating on-line with public authorities in Slovenia via e-government services (Eurostat Information Society Indicators);
- Slovenia scored 31 on Corruption Perceptions Index falling behind corruption cleanest countries in Europe.
In overall, people in Slovenia are not politically passive but they do lack trustworthycommunication channels enabling them to exercise a meaningful participation in decision-making processes. Finding the proper balance between the efficiency and democracy at local level is the main problem also recognized by the Republic of Slovenia national strategy for development of local governance. We believe digital tools can help local residents and local municipalities to establish this balance.
Institute for Electronic Participation http://inepa.si/english firstname.lastname@example.org
Institute THREE, Institute for Sustainable Community Practices www.zavod-tri.org
IPAK institute for symbolic analysis and development of information technologies https://www.ipak.si/english/enter.html.
This project was funded, in part, through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the Authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of State.