Recent Eurobarometer published in December 2013 reflects at a European level what has been locally sensed by smaller scale surveys. In particular 69 % of citizens do not trust parliaments and 72 % doesn’t trust governments. 86 % of the citizens feel their voice is not heard within the EU and 72 % are pessimistic about the future. Additionally there is an increase in the percentage of abstinence in recent elections. These facts in combination to the serious socioeconomic problems that various countries are facing are indications and reasons for many citizens to devalue the old political establishment and disengage from politics.
Newly created citizen initiatives gain limited or no publicity as media exposure of political ideas is very expensive and is usually monopolized exclusively by the established political parties. Without any mass media exposure and with limited resources, all new initiatives and citizen opinions disappear in obscurity. Therefore citizens are led to believe that any engagement in politics is futile as they can neither be heard nor affect developments.
The internet remains a chaotic medium where content is lost in the plethora of information while traditional media marketing is unilateral and costly. On the other hand live discussions between politicians and citizens are bounded by time or format that can’t facilitate complex arguments or proposals. Consequently there is a lack of infrastructure that can support political engagement and nurture new ideas. This absence of infrastructure inhibits the utilization of the creative potential of society. When citizens are ignored they result to either indifference or violent revolution. It seems that substancial political exposure is monopolised by the established political syustem and it is virtualy imposible for anyone without excessive resources to effectively access the public. In Cyprus, and various other countries there seems to be a need for infrastructure to assist renewal of the political system and meaningful citizen engagement.
We believe that the technological developments and the technical capabilities of our times, allow for innovative ways with which citizens can discuss, collaborate and resolve public problems. Therefore people will have the opportunity to creatively react to the social problems that arise. Towards this direction we have worked to design an online platform and tools that can facilitate substantial and meaningful political participation.
The online platform design rovolves around three main objectives:
• Citizens to inform themselves quickly and effectively on the existing proposals by both established and new politicians and initiatives.
• Citizens to push issues for discussion or raise questions to politicians in a way that can gather public support and surface the issue in the agenda.
• Citizens to express their own ideas for solving social problems and potentially gain public support for running as candidates themselves or finding political sponsors to implement the proposals. An online platform for political participation mitigates several problems of traditional methods (i.e. television, newspapers) amongst which are the following: low cost, two-way interacion, no bias filters, structured personalised content, no time-exposure-cost constraints etc.The aim is to allow for new and capable people to assume leading roles in solving social issues.
Technologies inclute a combination of ''tumblr'', ''youtube'' and ''wiki'' platforms.In order to enable personalisation of content, group collabopration and multimedia. Some of the features of the platform currently include: Profiles, agenda, policies, promo ability of content, approvals, views and discussions, discussion, hierarchical presentation of information, wikipolicy, SEO (search engine optimization), positive and negative vote on every uploaded material. Tags: all content is tagged for specific regions, topic, user etc so that it can be easily browsable by user’s that are interested in those specific fields, surveys (i.e. polls), voter tools (i.e. ''political compass'').