01 local digital democracy

Country: Netherlands
Action Plan: Netherlands Action Plan 2018-2020
Year Action Plan: 2018
Start Date: 7/1/2018  |  End Date: 12/31/2019

From the Action Plan

Local digital democracy Local digital democracy
Start and end dates of the action point: 1 July 2018 - 31 December 2019
Main action owner (organisation) Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK)
Description of the action point
Which social issue does the action point seek to address? Studies by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) and others have revealed that there is dissatisfaction with the responsiveness of authorities and politicians and that there is an urgent need for more direct involvement in policy-making and decision-making. Progress in digital technology is creating more and more opportunities to shape the desired influence using digital means. The Rathenau Instituut and other parties have concluded that, so far, governments have only made scant use of digital applications.

An international comparative study ‘Democracy at Dusk? (2017)’ also revealed Dutch public administration to still be insufficiently open to public consultation and participation and forms of direct democracy. The Netherlands is in 43rd position overall (out of 170) when it comes to participation options (including direct forms of democracy). This study compared national, regional and local levels.
The development of platforms such as digital deliberative forums which enable the easy exchange of ideas and opinions has several advantages, including:
- Enhanced legitimacy of decisions;
- Shifting the focus to the general interest;
- Mutual respect among actors;
- Better quality of decision-making processes.

This development can be designated as ‘Digital Democracy’ which focuses on supporting current democratic processes by means of digital tools as well as on the challenges surrounding the implementation of such tools. (B. Mulder and M. Hartog, Applied e-democracy: the need for an information framework to support development, 2013).

What is the action point? The action point will lead to a testing ground for ‘Digital Democracy’ being implemented, serving the following objectives:
• To vitalise democracy by demonstrably increasing the responsiveness of local authorities.
• To explore the question of how to effectively add a digital channel to the existing participation approach.
• To study which criteria successful participation tools should comply with.
• To increase awareness among authorities of the risks and opportunities of digital democracy. To promote open source as the programming standard.

How will the action point contribute to remedying the social issue? The use of participation tools within the testing ground will contribute to the strengthening of local representative democracy with participative elements. Support will take shape in a group setting – with all the members of the testing ground – wherever possible, so that various layers of government can work on the social task.

Why is this action point relevant to OGP values? The use of digital applications enables government organisations and residents to quickly exchange large volumes of information and to consult with each other without having to meet physically. The government's service provision can be optimised further by means of these digital applications. This leads to the conclusion that the action point will contribute to more information being released and also that the action point is relevant as regards transparency.

The action point will also create wide-ranging opportunities for participation in public matters. This makes this action point relevant as regards social participation. Aspects which demonstrate this include: opportunities for citizens to contribute to policy-making, decision-making and implementation at local level, through the use of innovative digital instruments.

The action point offers democratically legitimised actors an extra channel for involving citizens in, and informing them about, the different aspects of public accountability – information phase, debate phase and evaluation phase. This justifies the conclusion that the action point is also relevant for public accountability.
Additional information The testing ground for digital democracy is part of the Democracy Agenda of the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) and also intersects with the following government programmes:

- Digital agenda 2020;
- e-Government action plan;

One of the goals of this programme is to reduce inequality in and between countries. By 2030, social, economic and political inclusion should be made possible and promoted for everyone, regardless of age, gender, handicap, race, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, economic or any other status. The digital participation tools in the testing ground are also intended to promote the inclusiveness of democracy. Regardless of the above aspects, all citizens will be entitled to political inclusion in connection with policy-making and decision-making. This leads to the conclusion that there are intersections with the goal of the Sustainable Development programme referred to above.
There are also intersections with goal 16 of the programme: promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The major intersection of the testing ground for digital democracy is covered by sub-goal 16.7: ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels. This goal will be achieved by using the digital participation tools. Although the tools will be tested at municipal level first, implementation at provincial and national levels should also be possible at a more advanced stage.
Milestone with a verifiable result (please note: SMART) Start date: End date:
5 to 10 municipalities have progressed through at least three digital participation paths using open source tools. April / May 2018 December 2019
5 to 10 municipalities have progressed through at least three digital participation paths using a closed source tool. April / May 2018 December 2019
Signing of the ‘digital democracy manifesto’ by participating municipalities, BZK and VNG in order to record their commitment and vision regarding the promotion of digital democracy. April 2018 September 2018
Establishing, in conjunction with VNG and ICTU, how the tools will be managed in future, including their technical management. September 2019 December 2019
Adopting a joint approach to further scaling up, based on experiences. July 2019 December 2019
Preparing a final report that presents different impact measurements June 2019 December 2019
Contact information
Name of the responsible person representing the main action owner Koos Steenbergen (BZK)
Position, organisational unit Project leader
Email and phone number
Other actors involved Authorities involved Municipalities

Other organisations or bodies (such as community organisations or the private sector) ICTU, Netwerk Democratie, Waag Society, VNG

Lead Institution: Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK)

Support Institution: Municipalities, ICTU, Netwerk Democratie, Waag Society, VNG


From the IRM Review





Not Reviewed

Relevant to OGP values

Potential Impact

Not Reviewed


Completion at Midterm

Not Reviewed
Not Started

Completion at End of Term

Not Reviewed
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Did it Open Government?

Did Not Change

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