[MGSA-L] The real deputies of the Greek Parliament

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Tue Apr 22 19:42:03 PDT 2014


 *The real deputies of the Greek Parliament*

  *Citizens can propose legislation in certain areas. Their proposal is
then evaluated by fellow users and the most popular ideas are then sent to
deputies for further deliberation.*

By Lina Giannarou

The team behind Vouliwatch (www.vouliwatch.gr) could not have asked for
better timing. Since the launch of the online platform on March 16, the
Greek Parliament has been at the center of attention: from the key omnibus
bill submitted by the government and the ensuing censure motions, to the
controversy surrounding former cabinet secretary Panayiotis Baltakos.

Vouliwatch is the Greek version of Parliament Watch, which is already
available in five European countries: Ireland, France, Luxembourg, Austria
and Germany. The platform enables citizens to monitor and evaluate the
activity of members of parliament, as well as the European Parliament.
Visitors can also find out about the voting record of deputies and ask them

Vouliwatch is a nonprofit initiative financed by the founding members, and
it aims to bring Greek voters closer to their elected representatives.
Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was the first to receive
a question. Varvara Orfanidou, a 77 percent disabled employee at a highway
toll station in Malgara, near Thessaloniki, asked the conservative minister
whether she was protected under a new law which stipulates that tollgate
workers will be hired on an open-ended contract by the Egnatia Odos company
which is responsible for the highway's upkeep.

Mitsotakis assured the employee that transferred employees are neither
fired nor placed in a mobility scheme. “As a result, you will continue your
work with Egnatia Odos,” he said.

Interestingly, Orfanidou had asked the same question several times in the
past. “I sent you an e-mail at your ministerial address, I tweeted you, I
e-mailed your ministry and the legal department... but I never received a
response,” she said.

Also, Vouliwatch aims to explain developments in the House through posts on
issues of procedure. More ambitiously, it hopes to influence the
parliamentary agenda. Citizens can propose legislation in certain areas.
Their proposal is then evaluated by fellow users and the most popular ideas
are then sent to deputies for further deliberation.

The first few weeks of the site – which is still a beta version – have been
very successful.

“Despite the fact that people are fuming over the political system – a fact
which has created many levels of mistrust, such as that few people believe
e-governance can help in problem solving – people were quick to embrace
[the project],” says Panayiotis Vlachos, one of the architects of

Two weeks after its launch, the site had received more than 5,000 unique
hits and more than 7,100 views. It had more than 3,000 likes on its
Facebook page.

“It is worth investing in continuous contact with MPs' offices,” Vlachos
says. Most lawmakers are reluctant because they think that engaging with
the site means a bigger workload for their staff.

“They are skeptical. They say, 'We don't know the person asking the
questions.' The response to this is that an individual demand can at the
same time be a collective one.”
  ekathimerini.com <http://www.ekathimerini.com/> , Thursday April 10, 2014

June Samaras
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com
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