From the beginning of the GovFaces effort to the EU, Isabelle Durant, Vice-president of the European Parliament (Greens/EFA) has been one of our strongest supporters. She now officially endorses the platform and plans to use to connect directly with citizens. Her engagement vis-à-vis the European Union is not limited to her parliamentary mandate; she has also co-created the Spinelli Group, and is the Vice President of the Union of European Federalists.
Citizen communication has always been a main focus of her work and she has observed that “The EU needs a European political sphere which includes and calls for active citizenship with political rights and a sense of belonging and identity.” Therefore, she actively supports GovFaces, “a platform in which citizens can speak and ask questions to politicians”. She strongly believes that “there is a need for a platform in which citizens can speak and ask questions to politicians,” and GovFaces is the answer.
The question of European citizen democracy, and the view held by many citizens in Europe on this issue has become much more serious in light of recent events (the rise of populism and nationalism, globalization and its consequences, the crisis and its austerity measures). It is absolutely essential to try to provide innovative and realistic proposals to strengthen or initiate this citizen ownership of the European dimension. While the EU seems increasingly distant and is losing trust from the citizens, the existence of a European public space is paramount. The EU needs a European political sphere which includes and calls for active citizenship with political rights and a sense of belonging and identity.
The internet can enhance the emergence of the European public space. It is interesting to observe the constant novelties that Internet offers. Nothing can be done today as it had been done during the last century because such a large amount of information on any subject is now freely available. Recent developments on the web show strong dynamics from citizens. The Arab Spring, Occupy and Los Indignados showed the power of social media and how it was used to organize and mobilize, letting scattered protesters cooperate and keeping them from isolation. The events of the past week in Ukraine, Venezuela, the ongoing events in Syria and around the world have once again demonstrated the power of internet and social media in the face of crisis. Images of protests and violence in Ukraine and Caracas have flooded social media, giving people around the world the ability to see and discuss what is happening.
Citizens are creating new forms of transnational social movements. Internet is demonstrating the creation of transnational networks. Citizens are expressing themselves and participating more and more. Politics have not disappeared. We are witnessing a crisis of confidence in the traditional forms of representation, but the political debate on the internet is growing. Moreover, once the door has been opened to citizen initiatives, as the Lisbon Treaty did, it is impossible to ignore the potential outcome of such initiatives. ECIs are a good experiment in bottom up democracy. For example, Right2Water had more than one million signatures and is the first European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) to have its day last week in Brussels. Europe’s citizens are ready to connect and are willing to participate in the political discussion and in decision-making.
Now, as the European elections draw near, it is time to reflect on how citizens can become a part of the political debate online. More than one in three eligible European voters is on Facebook and millions of others are reachable online. There is a need to bridge the gap between citizens actively seeking to connect to politicians. The closer we remain, the more we will build trust. I am glad to welcome Govfaces, a platform in which citizens can speak and ask questions directly to politicians. It would be an authentic opportunity for political representatives to talk to people as if they were face-to-face. Engage. Interact. Answer questions. Ask questions, build trust.
Isabelle Durant, Vice-President of the European Parliament
You can ask Isabelle Durant a question on her GovFaces profile here.
GovFaces is the first global political network for connecting citizens and representatives online meaningfully and directly. By relying on multimedia such as direct video responses, and by allowing the community to decide which issues are more important, the GovFaces platform is the most efficient and effective way of contacting your elected representative online.