Parliamentwatch (abgeordnetenwatch.de) is an Internet portal that allows German citizens to question their representatives in the German parliament (the Bundestag) publicly. The independent, nonpartisan site aims to increase transparency in government and deepen German democracy. Questions and answers are published, as well as the voting records of the deputies. Users of the site can contact representatives of the Bundestag and German deputies of the European Parliament. The sister project Candidatewatch (kandidatenwatch.de) offers similar communication with candidates for German federal and state elections.
abgeordnetenwatch.de is a non-profit project of Parlamentwatch GmbH, and is run in cooperation with BonVenture and the clubs Mehr Demokratie e.V. ("More Democracy") and Mehr Bürgerrechte ("More Citizens Rights"). The long-term goal is to finance both projects through fund-raising groups and online advertisements that can be hidden on demand. Additional income comes from selling enhanced profiles to deputies and candidates.
Parlament GmbH is obliged to donate any excess funds to charitable organizations serving the public good. This commitment is defined in the organization's statutes.
All questions are read by a team of moderators to make sure they are within the moderation code, which prohibits insulting statements, incitement, discrimination, questions concerning private life, and requests that are bound to discretion.
Questions that violate the code are not activated and published, but the politician is informed about the incident. Beyond that, the project is strongly committed to neutrality and stays above party politics. In addition to general information about deputies, their voting behavior in issues that attract special public attention is documented.
According to the site operators, 15,000 questions were posed on the site between December 2006 and August 2007, out of which 12,000—or 80 percent—were answered. Every day 10,000 visitors access the site.[dead link]
The project has several media partnerships:
|This section's factual accuracy is disputed. (September 2010)|
Due to abgeordnetenwatch's success in the German Bundestag, fundraising groups were established in August 2007 in order to make the site available for Germany's 16 Landesparlamente ("states"). Donations and sustaining members in each state enable the implementation of the project on the state level; each state's portal is activated once 90 days' advance financing is accrued.
abgeordnetenwatch.de is based in Hamburg; the project started in December 2004 for the Hamburgische Bürgerschaft ("Hamburg Parliament") after a successful referendum to reform and democratize the electoral system. The online dialog on abgeordnetenwatch.de enabled the citizens to get to know their politicians better and make a more qualified decision in the elections. After the election, the site made it possible to ask questions of members of Hamburg's Bezirksversammlungen ("Diets of the borough").
After the establishment of the city parliament that was elected in February 2008, the project was temporarily stopped until enough funding was provided. It was no longer possible to administer abgeordnetenwatch.de on a volunteer basis.[dead link]
The Parliamentwatch sister project kandidatenwatch.de ("Candidatewatch") enables German citizens to get in touch with candidates for federal and state elections. In the 2005 federal elections, it was possible to ask questions of all the candidates in electoral districts having direct elections. In addition, the site provided an overview of the platforms of all political parties that had direct candidates running for office.
During the 2007 election campaigns in the German states of Rheinland-Pfalz, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Berlin, and Bremen, it was also possible to question the candidates.
In Bremen, candidates of the Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD) and The Left (Die Linke) launched a boycott against the project because right-wing candidates had not been excluded. However, the boycott was interrupted by Social Democrat Helga Ziegert, and Joachim Weihrauch from The Left enhanced his Parliamentwatch profile during the election.
The site publishes basic information about each candidate at no cost. For a €100 ($127)[nb 1] fee, candidates can add a photo and web link, announce specific dates and events regarding election campaigns, and publish a résumé of their political work and goals.[not in citation given] The proceeds from profile enhancements contribute to the project's budget.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (September 2010)|
In August 2008, the project was also implemented in Austria to increase the transparency of its representative democracy. The long-term goal is to further spread the idea and port the concept to other countries in order to strengthen democracy.
- Conversion rate as of 9 September 2010
- "Parlamentwatch e. V.". Hamburg, Germany: Die Landeszentrale für politische Bildung [State Office for Political Education]. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
- "projects of BV I". 2009. Parlamentwatch GmbH. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
- "FAQ - Häufig gestellte Fragen" [FAQ - Frequently asked questions]. Wie wird das Projekt finanziert?.
- abgeordnetenwatch.de:24 Stunden Bürgersprechstunde für alle Landesparlamente, 2. August 2007
- Adolf-Grimme-Institut:Mit Einsteins Welt, Bildblog und Kebab Connection in die Endrunde, Pressemitteilung vom 25. Mai 2005
- abgeordnetenwatch.de: abgeordnetenwatch.de für Hamburg wird eingestellt Pressemitteilung vom 4. März 2008
- Simon, Armin (27 March 2007). "SPD boykottiert Demokratie" [SPD boycotted Democracy]. Die Tageszeitung. ISSN 0931-9085.