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With "Betatext," German Green Party Tries Out Open-Source Politics

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, November 27 2012

(wegewerk)

As Germany gears up for its parliamentary elections in fall 2013, the parliamentary group of the German Green Party has released a tool called betatext to allow supporters to comment on position papers, motions or legislative drafts. "While others only talk about more participation and transparency in the political process -- we implement it," the parliamentary group states. Users of the tool can also see other people's comments and rate them.

One of the first documents being made available through the system is a position paper on how more citizen participation can lead to better planning, especially of larger scale infrastructure projects.

In their position paper, the Greens note the common failure to take advantage of the possibility to make official documents related to a project available online, as is done in the U.S. and Britain. Their paper goes on to demand a general obligation for planning agencies to make all relevant data and documents available online in their original form and the setup of an information portal to track developments surrounding a project, while also informing members of the public who do not use the Internet.

In another section, the position paper suggests that all citizens be able to give feedback online on federal transportation plans.

The parliamentary group developed the tool in cooperation with an agency called wegewerk, which is focused on online communication for clients including government agencies, think tanks, the Social Democratic Party of Berlin, nonprofits and unions, and has offices in Berlin and Brussels.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.