Issuing Draft Laws for public consultation before their formal introduction to Parliament - allowing thus for citizen intervention in the legislative process with arguments, suggestions, or disagreements - has been practiced since 2010 in Greece, yet participation is low and decreasing.
SciFy, a Greek NGO, has been hard at work to reverse this trend through the development of a new, more user-friendly system that will facilitate and strengthen the public consultation process. DemocracIT is an open-source, open-ended collaborative platform, which aspires to strengthen citizen participation in modern-day Greek politics, while providing necessary analytical tools to policy makers.
Funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the EEA Grants for Greece's "We are all Citizens" Programme, DemocracIT aims to build a community and a technological information infrastructure encouraging creative participation and the utilization of the public consultations data.
The objective is two-fold: to coordinate the expression of citizens’ views, so that the public can engage in a dialogue, as well as continue the discussion following the formal closure of the consultation round. Moreover, public comments become actionable information for lawmakers, given that the draft and final versions could be compared, measuring the impact of the consultation and contributing to increased accountability.
The system is a collaborative open-source effort, meaning that anyone can contribute and expand on it for free. The use of the system will likewise be offered free of charge. Hence, DemocracIT holds great potential for future development, and not limited to Greece alone, since the system could be adapted to work with any language and any political system. "We’re bringing the power to the citizens", says Vassilis Giannakopoulos, SciFy’s Marketing Manager, "and we’re offering it to the world".