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abgeordnetenwatch

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abgeordnetenwatch.de is an Internet portal that allows citizens to publicly ask their representatives in parliament. The platform is institutionally independent and above party lines. It aims at increasing transparency and deepening democracy. Questions and answers as well as the deputies voting behavior in important parliamentary decisions are published. Currently it is possible to contact representatives of the German Bundestag and German deputies of the European Parliament.

The sister project kandidatenwatch.de offers the opportunity to get in touch with candidates for the federal and state elections.

abgeordnetenwatch.de is a non-profit project of the Parlamentwatch GmbH and is run in cooperation with BonVenture and the clubs Mehr Demokratie (engl. More Democracy) and Mehr Bürgerrechte (engl. More Citizens Rights). The longterm goal is to finance both projects through the establishment of fundraising groups and online advertisement (which can be blanked out). An additional source of income is the selling of profile enhancements to deputies and candidates.

In case of profit making, the Parlament GmbH is however obliged to donate the full gains to charitable organizations serving the public good. This commitment is defined in the organization's statute.

All questions are cross-read by a team of moderators to make sure they are in alignment with the moderation code, which prohibits insulting statements, incitement of the people, discrimination and questions concerning private life or requests that are bound to discretion.

In case of infringement of the code questions are not activated and published, but the respective politician gets informed about the incident. Beyond that, the project is strongly committed to neutrality and stays above party politics. In addition to general information about deputies their voting behavior in decisions that attract special public attention is documented.

The deputies of the Hamburger Bürgerschaft (engl. city council of Hamburg) are already called "glassy" deputies.

According to the operators 15.000 questions were posed between December 2006 and August 2007, out of which 12.000 were answered, which corresponds to a quota of 80%. Every day 10.000 visitors access the webpage.[1]

Even journalists partially refer to the webpage. The project has several media partnerships as for example with the online edition of DER SPIEGEL, Süddeutsche Zeitung, stern, DIE WELT, Frankfurter Rundschau and Der Tagesspiegel.

In 2005 the project was nominated for the Adolf-Grimme-Award [2] and in 2007 it reached the final round. [3]

Due to its success in the German Bundestag foundraising groups were established in August 2007 in order to make abgeordnetenwatch available for Germanys sixteen Landesparlamente (engl. state parliaments).

Donations and sustaining members in the respective state should enable the implementation of the project on state level. As soon as the first 90 days are financed in advance, the portal can be started for the particular parliament.[1]

abgeordnetenwatch.de is rooted in Hamburg, where the project started in December 2004 for the Hamburgische Bürgerschaft City Council of Hamburg.

Previously, there was a successful referendum to reform and democratize the electoral system. The online dialog on abgeordnetenwatch.de enabled the citizens to get to know their politicians better and make a more qualified decision in the upcoming elections.

In the aftermath it was also possible to ask members of Hamburgs Bezirksversammlungen (engl. district councils).

After the establishment of the city council that was elected in February 2008, the project was temporarily stopped until enough funding was provided. It was no longer possible to administer abgeordnetenwatch.de on a voluntary basis.[4]

kandidatenwatch.de[edit]

The sister project "kandidatenwatch.de" enables citizens to get in touch with candidates for federal and state elections. In the federal elections in 2005 it was possible to ask questions to all candidates of the electoral districts that were to be elected directly.

In addition the webpage provided an overview of the election programs of all political parties, were running a direct candidate.

During the election campaigns in the German states Rhineland Pfalz, Baden Wuerttemberg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Berlin and Bremen it was also possible to ask the candidates. In Bremen candidates of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the LEFT (Die Linke) launched a boycott against the project because right-wing candidates have not been excluded.[5] The boycott was, however, interrupted by Social Democrat Helga Ziegert and Joachim Weihrauch from the LEFT enhanced his profile.

Basic information are available about each candidate at no cost. This only contains basic data about the person. For a fee of 100 Euro candidates can not only add a photo and a weblink. They can also announce specific dates and events regarding election campaigns and publish a self-portray about their political work and goals.[6] The profile enhancements contribute to the project's budget.

In August 2008 the project was also implemented in Austria to increase the transparency of its representative democracy. The longterm goal is to further spread the idea and port the concept to other countries in order to strenghten democracy.

Weblinks[edit]

Sources[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 abgeordnetenwatch.de:[http://www.abgeordnetenwatch.de/pm_02_08_2007-798-44.html 24 Stunden Bürgersprechstunde für alle Landesparlamente], 2. August 2007
  2. Adolf-Grimme-Institut:[http://www.grimme-online-award.de/downloads/pressemeldungen/pdf/GOA05_Nominierungen.pdf Mit Einsteins Welt, Bildblog und Kebab Connection in die Endrunde], Pressemitteilung vom 25. Mai 2005
  3. abgeordnetenwatch.de:[http://www.abgeordnetenwatch.de/pm_10_05_2007-798-39.html
  4. abgeordnetenwatch.de: [http://www.abgeordnetenwatch.de/04_03_2008-798-77.html abgeordnetenwatch.de für Hamburg wird eingestellt] Pressemitteilung vom 4. März 2008
  5. die tageszeitung taz: [http://www.taz.de/pt/2007/03/27/a0037.1/text "SPD boykottiert Demokratie"], 27. März 2007
  6. kandidatenwatch.de: [1]

This article is based on a translation of the German wikipedia article abgeordnetenwatch.de