Open source deltagerdemokrati - også uden for valgår

11 november, 2021 af
Open source deltagerdemokrati - også uden for valgår
OS2 – Offentligt digitaliseringsfællesskab, Rasmus Frey

Deltagerdemokrati med afstemning, borgerforslag og deltagerbudgetter om lokale forhold er ikke kun til valgår. Imellem kommunalvalg har inddragelse af borgerne også værdi og det er der open source løsninger til at hjælpe med.

Dagen for valg til kommune og region i Danmark nærmer sig. Men lokalpolitik er ikke afgrænset til valgår. CONSUL, Decidim og CitizenLab er platforme for deltagerdemokrati, hvor borgere bl.a. kan stemme på deres fortrukne lokalprojekter og komme i dialog med politikerne og den lokale administration. Alle tre er open source, enten helt eller delvist.

Derfor har jeg kontaktet de tre projekter og spurgt ind til valget af open source licensen, deres udfordringer og succes. I CONSUL projektet fik jeg fat i projektleder Esther Nass og i CitizenLab var det CEO Wietse Van Ransbeeck, der svarede på de tre spørgsmål. Decidim projektet er også blevet spurgt, men har ikke vendt tilbage.


Spørgsmålene i artiklen er stillet på engelsk og de direkte svar er også på engelsk.


Which considerations did you have about making the solution on an open source licence? 

Esther Nass, CONSUL: "The open source licence (AGPL3.0) was essential for CONSUL as it fits with the wider democratic values and principles the solution itself was trying to address: transparent, accountable and collective decision-making. Open source and free software projects enable that. You cannot only check the code, but you can own and change it, only to have your changes checked and improved by others again. Moreover, making Consul open source ensured replicability: democratic innovation should be available everywhere, and not just for the lucky few. Lastly, it’s just a great way to tap into collective intelligence. With the wisdom of the crowd you’ll find expertise in the community you never knew you needed. That’s true for participative democracy as much as for open source.”

Wietse Van Ransbeeck, CitizenLab: ”The three main motivations for CitizenLab to go open-source:  

1 - Ethical stewardship: We practice what we preach by opening all code to the public. We want to design our digital democracy platform in all transparency. 

2 - Co-development: Open code enables co-creation models for our clients and partners to build on top of our core platform.

3 - Democratization: The open source version of our platform is free to use, empowering smaller organisations to set up their own platforms. 

More information on the “why" can be found in this article.”


Which challenges did you meet in terms of distribution and implementation?

Esther Nass, CONSUL: “Outreach was really important in the beginning, making people aware that there was a free open source platform for democracy available, and let them know that they could use CONSUL themselves, and help them with how to use it and further develop it. Governments sometimes have to get used to the idea that they now own software and can use it in any way they want it, and even change it if they have specific needs. It is a challenging learning process that requires some resources, but governments are very satisfactory afterwards, not only regarding this project, but also working with public resources that they own as it is usually the desire of the public administration.”

Wietse Van Ransbeeck, CitizenLab: “The technical know-how to set up and deploy your own platform shouldn’t be underestimated. The how-to is documented on our portal, but that’s often not enough. We’re thinking of going to a one-click deployment to ease this process in the future.“


Would you say that your project has succeed? Why?

Esther Nass, CONSUL: “Yes, CONSUL has succeeded, reaching more than 35 countries worldwide, and having international recognition, for example receiving the United Nations Public Service Award. The open source solution keeps growing and developing, expanding to more countries where the foundation helps implementing the solutions, and we have a vibrant community of peers that support each other in the use and further development of the solution. We have an updated version coming out soon and are organising a CONSULCON in Germany in February.”

Wietse Van Ransbeeck, CitizenLab: “It’s still early to draw conclusions here. Going back to our three motivations: (1) governments prefer to use open technologies and our move to open-source got welcomed by our clients and stakeholders, (2) we’re still in the process of developing this model and expect the first add-ons to go live in 2022, (3) we’ve seen smaller communities self-host our platform, yet governments continued to have a preference for the commercial model giving them access to our expert services as well as Premium product features, e.g. automated reporting.”



Læs mere om CONSUL som dansksproget OS2-projekt og/eller vent på casen om OS2consul i Aarhus Kommune i næste uge.

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