Voralberg mitdenken is a digital platform that allows citizens to contribute comments and feedback on the results of Citizen Councils, allowing them to participate in local political discourse without attending meetings in person.
CITIZENS FIND SOLUTIONS
The Citizens Council of Voralberg aims to involve citizens in finding solutions to social challenges, drawing on randomly selected participants to discuss a topic and present their results publicly. The Council is anchored in the Vorarlberg State Constitution, and citizens can initiate a council on any topic with at least 1000 signatures. Until recently, Citizens’ Councils were self-contained and the results of Councils were only shared in Citizens’ Cafés, where they were publicly presented and discussed. In order to open the scope of discussion to the broader public, the Voralberg mitdenken platform was developed to allow citizens to comment on the Council conclusions without participating in the Café event.
CONTRIBUTE ONLINE OR IN PERSON
The results of Citizens Councils were presented to the public at two Citizen Café events, with citizens also able to contribute online via the Vorarlberg mitdenken platform. The platform enables citizens to contribute quickly and easily on important topics and local political decisions. The combination of direct participation and online statements resulted in better support for decisions and more significant participation from different groups. The recommendations developed by the Citizens Councils were used as a basis for a participation strategy and a key thematic focus in 2023.
ENHANCED LEGITIMACY AND TRANSPARENCY
Overall, the Citizens Councils address the problem of lack of citizen participation in finding solutions to social challenges. This project lends greater legitimacy and transparency to the process of political decision-making and results in better support for Council resolutions from a more diverse array of residents. The Citizens Councils are an essential feature in developing a participation strategy for the general public, and serve as a key mechanism for addressing the concerns of citizens in an accessible way.