In 2004, the residents of Hamburg, Georg Hakmak and Boris Hekele, founded the network project abgeordnetenwatch.de, which made the actions of candidates for deputies to the Land Parliament in Hamburg more transparent. Citizens could directly ask candidates through this site. Today, this concept works throughout Germany.
“We create MPs' accounts without asking anyone for permission. When questions arise, we simply email them to the appropriate person,” explains Fabian Hanneforth, an employee of abgeordnetenwatch. "We do not force deputies to respond to requests. But if the question remains unanswered for a long time, it is visible to everyone and thus there is some pressure from the public."
Abgeordnetenwatch also allows you to track the voting results of politicians. The project has long been relatively popular in Germany among young people. Among other things, the incident in 2007 contributed to this. Then it was possible to expose the Bundestag deputy from the CDU, Carl-Eduard Bismarck, who systematically did not participate in the polls and did not answer a single question. After the outbreak of scandal, he was forced to leave his post.
A unique project becomes an example to follow.
“Democracy 2.0 means transparency, direct contact with elected deputies and candidates in elections, and also provides the possibility of expressing citizenship. And all this can be done through the Internet,” says Hannefort.
Meanwhile, the portal has followers around the world. France, Luxembourg, Ireland and Austria and Tunisia have already created similar platforms, guided by the example of abgeordnetenwatch. Soon similar projects should appear among young people in Greece, Ghana, Nigeria and other countries. The global movement comes from Hamburg. “We didn’t have role models, we started from scratch,” explains Hanneforth. The effort was worth it. In 2013, the project received the „Democracy Award”.
The era of new democracy?
Politicians, for their part, also do not refuse to participate in the project. The percentage of responses to our requests reaches 75-50 percent in the Bundestag. Almost all the deputies answered at least one question. The success of the project is obvious. Is there a reason to talk about the era of the new democracy? Politicians do not give a definite answer.
The platform exists and the deputies are mostly ready to devote their time to answering citizens' questions. But where is it, democracy 2.0? According to Hannefort, about 2.5 million young people visit the portal annually. That is, no more than three percent of German citizens.