There are increasing calls for a return to a direct form of government. On the one hand, the global crisis of representative democracy is noted, and on the other, the technical possibilities of implementing a direct form of government. Maria Nowina Konopka, Rola internetu w rozwoju demokracji w Polsce, Ośrodek Myśli Politycznej, Wyższa Szkoła Biznesu – National-Louis University, Kraków – Nowy Sącz
At this point, I would like to refer in particular to the book by Maria Nowina Konopka, Professor at the Jagiellonian University, entitled “The role of the Internet in the development of democracy in Poland”. It is a 2008 publication, hence some of its parts, such as Chapter II, have become outdated. Nevertheless, many interesting thoughts and inspirations can be gleaned from reading the remaining parts of this source.
The professor suggests that the way to reconcile the positions of cyber-enthusiasts and their opponents is to propose the introduction of a mixed representative-direct system. Such a solution, in my opinion, has undoubted advantages. In order to ensure the effectiveness of the whole system, the positions of professional politicians, who can still have a significant influence on legislation, are not eliminated, but they definitely have to reckon with the decision-making power of the public using direct democracy.
There are various organizations that promote citizenship among the public. The author mentions, among others, the Center for Civic Education https://ceo.org.pl/, an organization that still exists today. According to the website of this NGO, they are “the largest educational non-governmental organization in Poland”, and they conduct their activities in six groups of programs, including “Engage civically” and “Explain politics”. We see here a convergence with our program goals.
Especially important is the point “Explain Politics” https://ceo.org.pl/programy#wyjasniaj_polityke, which they pursue through the European Flying University, the Voting Lighthouse, Young Voters, KOSS (i.e. Citizenship Education in Local Government School), and the Citizenship Guide.
Particularly well-known in Poland is the Election Lighthouse (Latarnik Wyborczy) https://latarnikwyborczy.pl/, which “makes it easy to compare your [political] views with the answers provided by election committees.” It works as a test, and as of the writing of this blog post, about two million people have used it.
It is also worth noting the “Citizenship Guide“, which is a two-part textbook for teaching civic knowledge in high school and technical school in the elementary range, approved by the Ministry for use in schools https://koss.ceo.org.pl/wos-do-liceum/przewodnik-obywatelski-czesc-2.
Another NGO that the author of the book points out is the Foundation for Poland. The organization still exists. On their website we can read that “it is one of the oldest foundations in Poland that has implemented initiatives for the civic movement and for the development of philanthropy in Poland”, so it also fits in with our goals.
Interestingly, it also includes the Henryk Wujec Civic Fund: “This is the only fund in Poland that awards support to individuals and organizations for independent civic activities, with funds raised exclusively from citizens and citizens’
Among the NGOs that no longer exist, the Polidea Foundation for Internet Democracy is worth mentioning. Since I have not been able to find information about it, except for an entry about its deletion from the KRS in 2016 http://www.krs-online.com.pl/fundacja-na-rzecz-demokracji-internetowej-krs-205596.html, I would like to refer here to Maria Nowina Konopka’s summary of its activities:
“The mechanism of the initiative, founded in March 2004, boils down to providing >>gamers<< with a place to conduct bets on the predicted outcome of the course of political events.”
It was undoubtedly an interesting formula, because from the description it must have involved citizens in taking an interest in what was happening in politics on an ongoing basis, and therefore supported the development of civil society.
The author also wrote: “The group as a whole knows more and better than the smartest member of that group. Distributed knowledge theory assumes that the fragmented knowledge of individuals can be combined into a coherent and conclusive collective wisdom.”
This is a wise statement, because it is in a community that breakthrough projects are born. A single person without the support of a group can create an important idea, but its details must be worked out in a larger group of people who share similar values and thoughts. This is what we want our portal to be like, supporting discussions with the participation of many people.
Another project that no longer exists, which is mentioned by the author, is the petition.pl website. It was created on the basis of the idea of Petition Online http://www.petitiononline.com/, but this project was also terminated. Currently, the site for online petitions is change.org https://www.change.org/, which is functioning very dynamically and boasts on its website (as of the date of writing) that about half a billion people have already taken part in their activities.
We don’t intend to compete directly with change.org, because that would be missing the point. The possibility to create online petitions is undoubtedly a very valuable form of influencing reality and their actions bring measurable results. The creation of our portal would be based primarily on increasing the role of public consultations and citizens’ initiatives in lawmaking.
The author of the book mentioned the petition.pl portal as follows: “Although the promoted actions mainly concern the issue of renewing a TV series on TVP or organizing a concert of pop music, the authors of the project hope that in time the interests of Internet users visiting this site will focus on >>more serious<< issues of socio-political life of the country”.
Also our portal may have problems with users creating less serious initiatives. Since freedom of speech is among our values, we would like to allow a wide range of allowed initiatives, limiting their publication only where the content itself clearly violates the law (e.g. the content of the initiative is a call for elimination of individuals or groups).
However, if the initiative is not serious, it should still be able to exist on the portal, because our point of view on what is serious, and what is not, may not be consistent with the point of view of others. So how to eliminate spam from the portal? It seems to be a good solution, that it would be possible not only to filter initiatives by categories, but also by the number of yes votes. However how exactly we will solve this will be known only after conducting UX Research.
|Maria Nowina Konopka, Rola internetu w rozwoju demokracji w Polsce, Ośrodek Myśli Politycznej, Wyższa Szkoła Biznesu – National-Louis University, Kraków – Nowy Sącz