Open Gov: Civic Participation in Taiwan

Despite not being recognized as an official OGP plan, Taiwan maintains world recognition in Open Government.

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By Laura Tamia Ortiz. Published: July 2021.

Taiwan launched its First Open Parliament National Action Plan in 2020 and has launched its first Open Government National Action Plan in 2021, which has 19 commitments in five areas: improving transparency, enhancing civic participation, increasing dialogue between genders and ethnic groups, implement transparent policies and eliminate money laundering, as part of the efforts to strengthen the governance of the nation and it is valid until 2024.

It is a relevant milestone as the country has consolidated these strategies regardless of its political context, a government interested in generating action plans of this type is good news for its citizens, even if international organizations do not recognize it. Non-recognition, however, could limit its scope since, for example, the OGP Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) will not carry out the review process they usually perform. When searching on OGP’s website, Taiwan does not appear as a member of the Alliance - it is not -, nor are any of the plans reflected there. This contrasts with Taiwan’s acknowledgment of OGP and its active participation in the different events of this organization, such as the Open Government week, in which the progress of Taiwan in Open Government Innovation and the fight against corruption was presented.

Whether recognized or not, Taiwan has been applying an innovative governance model for years, which seeks to bring institutions closer to citizens through technological tools in order to create a more participatory and open administration. A clear example of this is the appointment of Audrey Tang, hacktivist, as Digital Minister; the multiple advances in the use of technological tools to improve the lives of its citizens (here you will find a compilation of updated news related to this topic) and her commitment to open data.

Public Participation Platforms

Also noteworthy are the multiple platforms that the government has to receive citizen proposals, exchange comments and vote on initiatives, with different levels of openness of information and participation for the construction of public policies, the most relevant are:

  • Join: It is a platform for participation in public policies, launched in 2015 as a regular channel for citizens to participate in public affairs, allowing citizens to debate and give advice on political issues during the development and implementation phase of public policies. The online platform consists of four sections: “Talk,” a political debate section for citizens to question the government about the formulation of policies; “Monitor,” a section where the public can keep track of significant government policies and programs; “Propose,” a section of proposals that invites citizens to submit new political ideas; “Contact,” a comment section in which the public can send emails directly to the heads of government agencies. Through this platform, and thanks to a citizen initiative that received massive support, it was possible to legalize the online sale of menstrual cups in the country, which was prohibited before 2017 due to the State’s restrictions.
  • vTaiwan: is a platform to discuss how to formulate or modify laws and ordinances by exchanging considerations and opinions between the public sector and stakeholders. Through this platform, for example, a new regulation has been achieved for Uber, which considers citizen contributions obtained through the tool.
  • g0v: emerged in 2012 as an open-source community made up of developers and hacktivists who, instead of asking the authorities for solutions, proposed to offer them through open-source tools that enable a non-hierarchical conception of power. Every two years, they hold Hackathons that bring together more than a hundred participants committed to civic projects that they design based on their interests and abilities. Note: here, you can see the long version of Datasketch founder’s presentation at the g0v conference on Big Small Data to solve social problems.
  • iVoting: It is a digital referendum system linked to the local administration of Taipei. Proposals can be made by both citizens and the government, although their approval requires thousands of signatures and the procedure is complicated, so the number of initiatives approved through this tool is meager, and the same government typically proposes the solutions to the vote. The most prominent case, which evidenced the limitation of this tool, was the revision of the declaration of Shezidao, part of one of the districts of Taipei, as a “restricted development zone,” which made construction in that place prohibited or very limited, so that the buildings that already existed were practically in ruins. The economic development of this area of ​​the city was almost non-existent. The government proposed three solutions and two moments for online and face-to-face voting. In the first moment residents chose their preferred solution, and in the second, a vote was held open to all citizens of Taipei. This process was controversial because citizens were not allowed to make proposals or express their opinion, they were only invited to vote. Even though an initiative won and its development began, citizen participation was meager, and trust in the process was questioned.

References

If you want to know more about this topic, we invite you to read:

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