Janice Thomson

Blog posts

The ECI’s Promise in Peril: Why the European Citizens’ Initiative merits radical reform

March 31, 2014

On 1st of April 2014, the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) turns two -- its unfortunate birthdate determined by EU translation services. Called the first transnational tool of “direct participatory democracy” and “digital democracy” in history, the ECI is a complex procedure by which a million EU citizens ask the European Commission to propose legislation. In…

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Americans Envision a Civic Infrastructure for Public Dialogue and Deliberation

October 26, 2012

Janice Thomson's take on the NCDD conference and American's vision for Public Dialogue and Deliberation. Over a long and rainy weekend in Seattle, I joined members of the US-based National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) in a trendy downtown eco hotel for their semi-annual conference. NCDD celebrated their 10th anniversary as an organisation by taking on…

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North-Westward ho! Oregon embeds public participation in lawmaking

October 24, 2011

Recent developments in the state of Oregon demonstrate that there are ways of embedding deliberative, direct democracy into lawmaking. Oregon has long been a pioneer of direct democracy with its 100-year old Citizens' Initiative which allows citizens to propose a law and put it to popular vote. Recently, however, the legitimacy of the Citizens' Initiative has been…

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Putting European citizens before lobbyists: is the ECI the tool?

March 31, 2011

A friend recently asked me to sign a petition opposing a soon-to-be-implemented EU directive which will effectively ban many herbal medicines. Putting aside the merits of the topic, my first reaction was "Why so late? The directive was approved in 2004!" It seemed a perfect example of how citizens typically first learn about EU decisions:…

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Warning: EU elections may be dangerous to your democracy

January 6, 2011

If the first election in which a young voter participates is a European election then that voter is less likely to vote in any kind of election for the rest of their life compared to their first electoral experience being a national election. This finding from Professor Mark Franklin of the European University Institute in Florence, was…

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Cutting the national debt with avatars

July 7, 2010

While sensible people watched Ghana defeat America in the World Cup, I wandered into the parallel online universe that is Second Life (SL) to join Americans in confronting their national debt. The specifics were American, but the options would be familiar to Europeans: what public spending to cut, which taxes to increase, for whom and how…

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A (real) democratic life for EU citizens…

June 14, 2010

The European Union (EU) is moving quickly to clarify and enforce the rights of its citizens, driven by the very senior, results-oriented Commissioner Viviane Reding. The Commission's focus is the rights of individuals when engaging in cross-border activities, such as purchasing products from another country or obtaining social services when living abroad. However, it is also…

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