The Estonian Cooperation Assembly has set up a new Citizen Initiative Portal rahvaalgatus.ee, which makes it possible to compose and send collective initiatives to the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu). The portal was launched in March 2016 in beta-version.
Collective petitioning right emerged from the People’s Assembly process – since 2014 spring every citizen can give collective initiatives to the Parliament for consideration. According to the law, the Parliament will have to process appeals that have at least 1000 signatures. During the period from spring 2014 until beginning of 2016, the Parliament has processed 11 collective initiatives and two of them have been made into laws.
In November 2015 a public name contest for the portal was organised in collaboration with the Chancellery of the Riigikogu. As a result the new citizen initiative portal will be named rahvaalgatus.ee. The portal is running in Estonian, English and Russian language.
The new portal developed by the Estonian Cooperation Assembly makes it easier to compose, send and monitor collective initiatives. Every citizen can use the new portal to raise an issue or make a suggestion, to discuss it publicly, to create an appeal, to collect digital signatures for it and send it to the Parliament with one click. It is also possible to monitor how the initiative is processed in the Parliament and how it may be turned into a law. In the future it will also be possible to use this portal for citizen initiatives in the local government, because according to the law 1% of the population can start a draft law.
The new citizen initiative portal was created by the Estonian Cooperation Assembly in cooperation with the foundation Let’s Do It!, who has created the freeware for community decision-making — Citizen OS. In addition experiences of other countries are being studied, especially Finnish and Latvian practices with collective petitions within the cooperation project “E-democracy in Action” (partners are ManaBalss.lv from Latvia and OpenMinistry from Finland, the project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers). As a result of the cooperation project, a thorough report “E-democracy in Action: case studies from Estonia, Latvia and Finland” (pdf) was launched in January 2016.
The Cooperation Assembly was also one of the main organisers of the 2013 People’s Assembly. Besides the legalisation of collective initiatives the People’s Assembly resulted in decisions to make the party financing process fairer, to lower the caution money for registration of new candidates and in decreasing the number of people required for registering a new party by half.