Established politicians worldwide are concerned about their populations. Or, they’re simply worried about their own future if the population happens to turn on them.
Politics has always been an unstable game. But according to a recent Danish study, politicians have never had lower confidence than today – and people in many nations are, in fact, turning away from the old established parties. In the elections in Denmark in June 2015, over 40 percent voted for Alternativet, Dansk Folkeparti, Enhedslisten and Liberal Alliance – all parties that have never been in government. Parties with a more or less different approach to politics than the traditional parties who are often viewed as closed, elitist and out of touch.
And now a completely different development ‘threat’ against conventional politics has emerged – a boost in transparency nurtured by digital innovation.
Contrary to the views of their own governments, people are getting behind other movements that speak more to their integrity. Most notably, millions across the globe have been rallying behind refugee-support associations in the face of the overwhelming crisis. And instead of just voting every four years, they’re taking their political awareness into their own hands, and to some extent, taking control of politicians. And it’s designers who have made this all possible.
Among the INDEX: Award 2013 and 2015 nominations were various new websites and apps centred around governance. All vastly different designs, but all aimed at bringing the power back to the people. By combining information with innovation, design has increased democracy, and given people more knowledge and empowerment to contribute to better governance. These innovation have created a move even playing field by simply exposing more of our leaders’ playing cards.
Let me provide some examples:
Green House is a free web browser extension that allows you to see the funding details of any American Senator or Member of the Representative House. Making it easy to ‘follow the money’ in American politics, users can see how much a politician received in total, which businesses have donated money, and how much was given.
Another is American app BuyPartisan, a design for the advanced political consumer. With this app you scan product barcodes in the supermarkets and immediately see all the political donations the company has received.
And just a few more….
UK charity-run website Full Fact checks the statements, facts and allegations thrown around by politicians during election cycles. Used in Britain last year, citizens could access the website 24/7 to verify any information put forward by candidates, allowing them to make more informed decisions come election day.
And then there’s the renowned Crowdvoice platforms. Websites that keep the public -including journalists, politicians and officials- in the know about important social movements and political unrest. The open-source service allows anyone, almost anywhere, to contribute news in the form of text, photo and videos. This information is then verified and curated into a digestible and highly engaging format. As a refined version of citizen journalism, the websites provides a much deeper level of information, and often a more truthful depiction of events.
With the growth of these websites and apps, the power structures are in flux, and the distance between politicians and the people is becoming smaller and smaller.
people are now free to exercise more control, accessing the information they want and having more influence in policy development.
Soon leaders and citizens will meet at eye-level. And it’s a clear reality that our seasoned and traditional politicians will need to adjust in order to retain their influence.
Image from BuyPartisan.