Rahvaalgatus.ee is a digital platform in Estonia that enables citizens to create and discuss citizen-led grassroots initiatives, collect public support, and submit ideas to their local government.
A PLATFORM TO COLLECT SUPPORT
According to Estonian laws, residents can initiate the passage, amendment, or repeal of legislation which concerns local issues if they receive support from 1% of the residents of a municipality. Although this law was put in place to increase local participation in the democratic process, it has been underused for decades. Rahvaalgatus.ee, an easy-to-use digital platform, helps to address this gap by providing a space for citizens to create and discuss initiatives, collect digital signatures, and send their initiatives to the local government for consideration.
GIVING CITIZENS A VOICE
Unlike other sites that collect legally non-binding signatures, the validated signatures collected in support of initiatives through the Rahvaalgatus.ee platform oblige the government to both discuss the topic with the person proposing the initiative and to give feedback on the idea to its supporters. In addition to connecting citizens to ongoing initiatives, the Rahvaalgatus.ee platform also provides up-to-date information and updates. By 2022, people had created initiatives in 27 out of 79 local municipalities and 50,373 signatures were collected (representing 4% of the population) in support of various initiatives. These initiatives covered a broad range of issues, including the preservation of forests and nature or support for schools, libraries, and community centres in danger of disappearing from local communities. Overall, the project has given a voice to those that otherwise would have been alienated from the democratic process at the grassroots level.
A BRIDGE BETWEEN COMMUNITIES AND POLITICIANS
The impact of the project is twofold. First, it empowers citizens to make their voices heard on a municipal level, where they can see the positive consequences of their actions in a short period of time, increasing trust in the democratic process. Secondly, citizen initiatives and participation are a valuable resource for the public sector, providing politicians with important feedback on their decisions and highlighting potential areas of concern. As a result, the platform acts as a bridge between community members impacted by issues and those tasked with resolving them, enabling the design of viable and impactful solutions.