Using Technology to Support Democratic Governance – the Case of Estonia

Nele Leosk 1Nele Leosk (Estonia) started her presentation with Estonian revolution in 1988, and how Estonian government back then already grasped the new information technologies.

She presented the e-Government as a counterpart to e-Democracy, which balances the leverage.  Estonia created Public Information Act in 2001, which made information more accessible to ordinary citizens. As well, the portal was created, called ToM, for citizens to send their suggestions to the government. But it encountered some problems; the biggest one was that there was no dialogue. Some users overtook the discussions and chased away ordinary users. When doing the analysis they found out that other websites received more attention than government portals when discussing the issues.

Nele LeoskSo the OSALE all-government participation portal was created that included all information on ministries and their activity, as well as ordinary citizens could comment, but this also encountered some problems. To post users had to log in with their ID card number, but they rarely posted, why was this? Some users reported that they were too embarrassed to post as they didn’t see themselves competent enough.

Mrs. Leosk presented Estonia’s e-voting, which has from 2005 with only 1,9% votes cast from internet jumped to 24,3% in 2011. Estonia’s e-ranking is very high and is among top in e-participation. The country faced many problems with corruption in 2012, and public demanded changes. But the faith in representatives was lost. So the president at that time said that he will act as a postman, collect ideas from citizens via portal and present them in the parliament. Out of eight ideas presented, two were accepted on April 16th.

She concluded with the words that democracy is an evolution.