48. Citizens Petitions should be debated by Citizens’ Assemblies

Many countries now apply this form of political engagement. For example, in Britain, there must be 100,000 signatories for a parliamentary petition to be discussed in the Parliament. POLIS, the system applied here, has a similar starting point. But here the similarities end. In most countries, when you sign a Parliamentary petition it is understood you fully agree with it. Since you cannot modify the petition’s wording in any way, the only other option is to abstain.

But it does not have to be like that. This is where the innovative approach proposed by Polis can help. It starts with an assumption that people need time to understand the implications of the proposed legislation. To enable that understanding, potential signatories to see the initial wording of the petition (max. 140 characters), its all modified versions, comments left by users, and how many people have signed up for each of these versions. A potential signatory can sign one of the existing versions of the proposed legislation or propose his own. He can also leave comments or suggestions for all others to read.

Once a citizens’ petition has reached a certain threshold it needs to be debated by a Citizens’ Assembly. If the Citizens’ Assembly support the petition, than the Parliament must make it a law, if appropriate, unless 2/3 of MPs vote against it.


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