On Friday, members of a German grassroots democracy project launched a new website called Abgeordnetenwatch.de (that’s “MPwatch” in English), which allows people to find the members of the German federal parliament for their region, read about their voting records, and get in contact with them.
A similar site was first launched for the federal state of Hamburg in 2004. Now they have expanded it to the federal parliament. They have also received funding from BonVenture and attracted major media partners in German news portals Spiegel.de, Tagesspiegel.de and Welt.de. According to an article in Welt.de, not all MPs are happy about this development. One politician said the site is indirectly pressuring politicans to come up with responses or get a reputation of being “anti-democrats” (I’d agree that there might be unrealistic expectations for the speed of response but, in general, this politician might want to read his job description again. Maybe he skipped the part about communicating with constituents).
A little while ago, I wrote about another German grassroots democracy project, where people can submit questions to the German chancellor and get them answered by the Federal Press Office.
Today I read about great projects in the UK (hat tip to Neville Hobson). Simon Dickson has created a Google Map of all MPs in the United Kingdom, which links to a database of House of Commons Hansard Debates, Written Answers and Statements via an API by TheyWorkforYou.com. TheyWorkforYou.com is an awesome resource for citizens in the UK.
It is fascinating to see citizens – not governments – come up with all these ideas of using new web technology to make government and democracy more transparent and accessible.
Does Europe lead in this type of online grassroots democracy? What about Canada? And other countries? I am asking not as an accusation but because I have no idea about Canada yet and I’d like to find out more about developments. If you know about any projects, please let me know in the comment section or send me an email (see contact page).