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The future is in your hands so stand up and make your voice heard

PN candidate Ivan Bartolo writes: To ensure  the smooth running of our society and every aspect of it, we need to focus on making the shift from analogue to digital

18 May 2017, 1:07pm
This interaction is vital for party members to really understand the intricacies of various struggles that the electorate suffers on a day to day basis
This interaction is vital for party members to really understand the intricacies of various struggles that the electorate suffers on a day to day basis
We live in a so-called democratic republic, but I feel that over the last four years we have been moving further away from what I would call a true democracy, and not only are citizens’ needs and best interests being ignored, but the way that we interact with those that hold power is becoming increasingly complex and inaccessible.

This is set to change. On Wednesday, I had the honour and privilege to launch together with Dr Simon Busuttil a project very dear to me and which I worked on over the last few months. Over a Facebook Live stream, we rolled-out our idea of an e-democracy community that seeks to encourage the involvement of members of the public in politics and policy making, via an easy to use, digital platform.

This e-democracy system is designed to crowdsource the ideas of every individual in Malta and Gozo. It facilitates the easy interaction between individual and party when it comes to developing new proposals and policy ideas. Users may log into the system using their Facebook credentials and they are then able to interact directly with proposals that have already been made, as well as adding their own. This allows the people to put forward their ideas and suggestions of changes that the PN can make – these suggestions go beyond the economy, finance, and politics and really drill down to the important issues that affect the Maltese people on a day to day basis.

This is the mark of true democracy – encouraging the active voice of citizens and giving them a platform where they can contribute to the ideas and solutions that will shape their lives. How can you claim you have a true democracy if the people that make up the electorate have no say in what policies are enacted? At the moment, the voters in this country are in a position where they are mere judges in a popularity contest between two parties – each one is trying to better the other with new policy proposals, but has anyone actually stopped to ask what people want? Are all of these policies even applicable to the man or woman on the street? 

The format of the site has been well designed and thought out and is based on similar British and Icelandic models which have been rolled out with an overwhelmingly positive response. The platform itself is split into several different Groups in a forum-style layout and these include Your Ideas, Good Governance, Politics for the People, Gozo, and Youth. ‘Your Ideas’ is the place where the individual can submit their own recommendations for policy, and the other areas are existing PN policies and allow people to ‘like’ and add their own constructive criticism or ideas. The platform has proven incredibly popular in a short time, which just goes to highlight the failings of the current PL government in really asking (and listening) to what their electorate want and need. Examples of suggestions put forward by members of the public include offering a park and ride service to and from the University, the creation of hubs for local start-ups, and fixing the rental laws to better protect both property owners, and their tenants. 

As well as making suggestions, the platform allows people to add their valuable input on existing policies and to provide their reasons for or against the suggestion. This interaction is vital for party members to really understand the intricacies of various struggles that the electorate suffers on a day to day basis. Only God is omniscient, and without this vital feedback, we might never truly realise the implications that some of these issues have on different parts of our community. I have also worked on a wireframe concept for a locality-based app which will allow residents report potholes and apply for permits online, through the comfort of their smartphone.  

This initiative is a sign of better things to come and it is a powerful step in the right direction for Malta. Digitalisation, and in particular how technology can be harnessed to improve all aspects of our life is something that is at the forefront of my personal, working, and political life. I believe that the capabilities that the digital sphere offer to us now can be utilised in a much more efficient way to improve almost every part of our daily lives – from healthcare and wellbeing, to education, entrepreneurship, and now – democracy. To ensure the smooth running of our society and every aspect of it, we need to focus on making the shift from analogue to digital, and empowering citizens to partake in the way that their country is run, rather than it ceasing after they have cast their vote.

I firmly believe that a party is nothing without the people that vote for them, and I also believe that a politician is there to serve the will and needs of his constituents – not his own personal agendas. With this in mind, it is hoped that this platform will breathe a breath of fresh air into the local political scene and allow PN party members to better understand the things that are important to each and every person, from every walk of life.

We are tired of being told what we want by the PL in a desperate hope to win votes and it is about time that we focussed on what we – the taxpayers – really need to help improve our lives. I envisage this e-democracy platform continuing to expand into a wonderful blend of ideas, debate, and most importantly, a true democratic process. So as one Maltese citizen to another, I implore you, stand up and get your voice heard, tell us about the things that are important to you, and vote for change on June 3rd.

Ivan Bartolo is a Nationalist Party candidate on the 9th district. He is managing director of Idox Health (formerly 6pm)

www.bartoloivan.com

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