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Ons Geld citizen initiative, Netherlands

Date added: July 5, 2017

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Ons Geld (Our Money) is a Dutch citizen initiative seeking to put the question of money production on the public agenda. Ons Geld pushed for legislation that would ensure commercial banks cannot create new money (virtual money) when providing their clients with credit lines. Furthermore, the initiative asked that when money is created by the state, it should be used in the public interest and not for bailing out commercial banks or real estate companies.

The Netherlands is often hailed as a leading example of the integration of ICTs within democratic politics, and the organisers of Ons Geld initiative made extensive use of digital technologies - websites, online forums, social networking platforms, electronic newsletters - to build support for their initiative.

This case exemplifies the grassroots use of digital technologies for citizen engagement purposes in a larger political context in which the idea of 'active citizenship' and digital technologies are hailed as solutions to contemporary problems faced by democratic governments. Furthermore, this initiative is shaped by the type of citizen engagement envisioned in the formal mechanisms for citizen participation made available by state institutions. The author explores the following research questions:

  • how were ICTs imagined as political spaces and tools by the citizens-organisers?
  • What kind of citizen participation was elicited via the use of ICTs?
  • what factors other than ICTs played a role in this case?

This case study suggests that explicitly integrating ICTs within the formal avenues for citizen participation constitutes a good starting point for expanding the current e-government policy framework. Such an enlargement entails the development of suitable online tools that can allow citizens to start citizen initiatives in a way that is inclusive and deliberative from the beginning. Furthermore, such a framework should not limit itself to technological solutions, but also invest in the development of cultures of civic engagement, as well as provide resources for the development of these initiatives.

 

 

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