July 11, 2018

Estonia: Assembling Citizen Voices

Responding to Citizens' Outcry on Corruption

In May 2012, a former Estonian MP ignited a major scandal by confessing that party officials gave him money of dubious origin to deposit in party coffers, something he claimed was routine practice for the party. In response to the wave of protests that followed, the president agreed to consult the public to find solutions to the problem of ongoing corruption. With this goal, the President, together with civil society organizations, initiated the People’s Assembly, or Rahvakogu, a platform where citizens can crowdsource, prioritize, and vote on key policy proposals online and offline. Estonia’s parliament has since passed two of those proposals into law — on political party financing and public petitions — and has implemented a handful of others. Since 2016, more than 20 proposals, each with 1,000 digital signatures, have reached the parliament through the e-participation platform rahvaalgatus.ee. The potential of this platform is now manifesting beyond Estonia; Jamaica, for instance, is now adapting the platform for domestic use.