Civic tech report: Digitalisation expected to increase political participation
Bern, 08.05.2020 - At its meeting on 8 May, the Federal Council approved the civic tech report, and adopted three measures intended to encourage civic engagement.
The civic tech report addresses two postulates from Parliament. The Damian Müller Postulate 17.4017 instructed the Federal Council to examine how the opportunities that civic tech brings can enhance citizen participation in the political process in Switzerland. The Markus Hausammann Postulate 17.3149 instructed the Federal Council to examine measures it can take to make the consultation procedure more efficient.
The report shows how digitalisation can strengthen Switzerland’s political system and increase civic engagement. Based on the results of the report, the Federal Council has decided to take three measures and instructed the Federal Chancellery to do the following:
1. Develop a general technology-neutral data model for political business and related materials
At present, information relating to items of political business has to be gathered on various web platforms; not all of it is available to the public and it appears in various data formats. A general data model would make it possible to monitor each item of political business throughout the policy cycle – beginning with the proposals in parliament or the decisions made by the Federal Council and the consultation process, going through the parliamentary debates and any referendums or popular votes to the point where new laws or measures are implemented.
2. Test ‘e-consultation’ and identify practical measures to simplify the consultation procedure
Using digital tools could simplify the administrative procedure for consultations. The results of digitised and more structured consultation procedures could be more readily interpreted and applied in the subsequent decision-making process.
3. Examine the feasibility of setting up a publication platform for petitions
Until now, petitions submitted to the Federal Administration have not been published. The creation of a platform for petitions is being considered in order to offer a new service in this area.
Alongside these options for enhancing civic engagement, the civic tech report also sheds some light on the potential risks of digitalisation for Switzerland’s political system. The report also summarises the progress achieved in the discussion on civic tech and presents examples of possible applications, with the objective of gaining a clearer picture of the action that needs to be taken.
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