At the start of 2022, EPD and Carnegie Europe, in the framework of the European Democracy Hub, embarked on a new challenge to explore worldwide democratic innovations, drawing insights from how different countries have enhanced their democracies and exploring the possibility of replicating some of these innovations in a European context. The first set of case studies are now available for your reading on our dedicated page.
The four case studies bring forward examples of democratic innovations from South Korea, Taiwan, North Macedonia and Georgia. Each of them highlights different examples of democratic innovations, explaining how they have emerged, how they work in practice and the challenges and opportunities around their implementation. Below you can find a snapshot of each case study, authored by one of our country experts.
The South Korea case study begins by looking at Gwanghwamoon 1st Street, an initiative run by the President’s administration to get citizen’s opinions on policies through an online platform, to then dive into local government initiatives such as the contest held by Icheon City for citizens to propose social distancing measures in 2020. Finally, it dives into another initiative focusing on the use of deliberative polling exercises to decide on Korean nuclear energy policy, leveraging a debate between randomly selected citizens and a nation-wide poll to make a difficult and controversial policy decision. Read the full case study here.
Moving away from more government-led democratic innovation, the Taiwan case study focuses on grassroots democratic innovation and their path to institutionalisation. The case study shares insights from Taiwan’s civic tech and gov tech experiences, showing how civic tech transitioned from oppositional politics to having a more institutionally anchored role in facilitating inclusive decision-making in Taiwan. The research dives into g0v, a community of hackers and people from the open source community who have launched various initiatives aimed at overcoming the information asymmetry between government and citizens and crowdsource knowledge from citizens. As such, this case study shows the path of institutionalisation from civic tech into gov tech, and its usage in policy deliberation under the vTaiwan platform. Read the full case study here.
This case study explores both grassroots-led democratic innovations, as well as local authorities-led initiatives to better connect with citizens and encourage political participation and deliberation. It presents the example of the Green Human City platform, something between a civic tech policy crowdsourcing tool and a political party, showing how such new forms of representation can place citizens in the centre of city planning. The mZaednica is a platform run by municipalities which allows citizens to communicate their ideas for improving city planning and governance. Read the full case study here.
The Georgia case highlights democratic innovations in local government via government digital platforms, and amongst political parties who are making use of digital tools in innovative ways. The Local Self-government Code has created a deliberative and a consultative body at town and city level, with some very successful cases where cities took over municipality decision-making. The digitalisation of government information and public services is studied through the my.gov.ge and the ichange.gov.ge platforms. Finally, the Girchi political party’s use of a digital platform for fundraising, party primaries and direct engagement with their members sheds light on some innovative ways of strengthening representative bodies using participatory platforms. Read the full case study here.
Our next series of case studies will be exploring democratic innovations in Africa. Watch this space for updates on how democratic innovations took place in Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria, exploring the challenges they faced and the opportunities they opened for increased political participation and accountability.
The “Exploring Worldwide Democratic Innovations” project was supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.