Countries that are global benchmarks in citizen participation

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The United Nations E-Government 2018 study discusses issues related to digital public administration and open government globally. Citizen-centric services are becoming increasingly important for public administrations. And the digitization of processes is playing a key role in this transition, especially in areas such as citizen engagement, innovative public service delivery or open data publishing.

If we focus on digital digital citizen participationThe United Nations defines it as "the process of involving citizens through ICTs in policy formulation, decision-making and service design and delivery in a participatory, inclusive and deliberative manner. According to the study, Denmark, Finland and the Republic of Korea are positioned as the world leaders in this field, followed by the Netherlands in fourth position and Spain - together with Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States - in fifth position.

Each leading country works on e-participation differently. Denmark includes it in its 2016-2020 digital country strategy. Australia mandates that new public services must meet the condition of accessibility for all users regardless of their environment and capabilities. And Japan has the "Digital Government Idea Box" portal to discuss digital government issues with citizens and design higher quality digital services.

Within digital citizen participation, or e-participation, we distinguish three levels:

  • E-Information: Availability of information online. This is the first level. Without information, citizen participation will not be as relevant, due to lack of knowledge of the subject matter.
  • E-Consultations: Online public consultation. This second level of participation seeks to consult citizens in the development of new policies, services or projects. This consultation does not oblige the government to adopt the most supported measures, but serves to better respond to public opinion. At this level we would find online debates or online surveys.
  • E-Decisions: Direct participation of citizens in decision-making processes. This third leg of participation focuses on citizens providing input into decision-making processes. Examples could be online voting, e-voting or collecting support for a cause.

At each of these levels, there is one country that stands out in particular:

Finland, leader in e-information

It leads in e-Information by applying its democratic principles and openness in the digital sphere. They have a Government Project Register (HARE) where they expose them to citizens, the website to facilitate public online debate of government proposals or the government portal where citizens can suggest initiatives or make comments to local and national governments.

Brazil, leader in e-consultations

Focused on digital citizen participation, they launched the platform, which promotes citizen consultation and information with online debates, videos, maps and other means of online social consultation. On this platform they have already carried out more than 200 participatory processes and more than 30 online consultations. It also has an open government section where they provide data on the country.

Estonia, leader in e-decisions

Estonia as an example of e-decision making. It is one of the pioneers in online voting as an option for elections, which it introduced in 2005. This system allows voting from any device with internet access after a process of identity verification. At present, it has successfully carried out 8 binding votes allowing the online voting process at national, local and European level.

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