Open Government and Democracy: Improving the reliability of the political system

صورة AGORA moderator

The importance of Open Government

Open Governance as a public policy is based on the integration of the principles of transparency, access to information and the effective participation of citizens in the State’s operating procedures.

Expanding openness policies and civic participation involves creating infrastructures and improving the regulatory framework within the Public sector and State institutions. The dimensions of Openness policies, and their implementation capabilities in  public administration, justice, public services and governmental institutions, directly impact the political system.

The applications of Open Governance concern the whole operation of the three authorities of the State (legislative, executive, judicial), giving new potentials in the consolidation of constitutional principles and rights of the state of law. Also Open Government policies are a useful tool, method and principal towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and especially Goal 16.

In the declaration of the Open Government Partnership, Openness is mentioned as a public policy that contributes to:

  • bigger and better civic participation in public life,
  • enhancement of transparency and combat of corruption,
  • effectiveness and accountability of the State, harnessing new technologies,
  • overall upgrade of living standards and achievement of sustainable development.

Apart from its good governance implications for public administration, it should be noted that Open Government concerns the fundamental institutions of democracy, namely the parliament, the government and political parties.

Democracy is directly interconnected to the level of transparency and openness in the operation of state institutions, setting the framework for citizen participation in the practice and control of governance. Quite simply, Open Governance is the guarantee of better implementation of the rule of law and democratic principles, and also guarantees the respect of human rights. 

Greece and Open Government

In Greece characteristic examples of Openness policies are the Diavgeia Program, which requires that every action and decision of the State and public administration be published, and opengov, which opens up all potential legislative documents to public consultation before being voted in Parliament.

These important steps, together with open data policies concerning State activities, should be further supported and enhanced in order to achieve better results.

Moreover, Greece, through its participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP), cooperates and exchanges knowledge and good practices with 70 member countries. At the same time, having signed the Declaration on Open Government for Sustainable Development Goals, Greece is at the forefront of developing policies that apply to SDG Goal 16.

With the State and public administration’s commitment to these policies, Greece’s  3rd National Action Plan for 2016-2018 (submitted to OGP), and especially with the creation of the first framework-law on Open Government, there is significant potential for radical change.  Following the economic crisis, there is a great opportunity to restore people’s confidence in the State and the political system as a whole, by changing the way that the State works and making all levels of governance better and more open.

The new National Action Plan 2016-2018

The commitments laid out in the new National Action Plan aim to improve infrastructure already in place, as well as to create new ones, to enhance citizens’ involvement in governmental activities and access to information. Another key target is to carry out necessary reforms in the public administration in order to make citizens' daily lives easier and to develop public service capacities.

Furthermore, transparency and accountability within the public sector is reinforced through civic participation in the evaluation process of the public services, while dialogue mechanisms, such as Hearing Committees for citizens and social actors, safeguard against bureaucracy.

In a similar vein, the same direction there is also the Commitment about the Digital Organizational Charts for every public service, body and entity in the public sector making public administration more open and ensuring that every citizen will be able to have a complete and thorough knowledge of the exact function of each service and body.

The Guides and Standardization for the provision of Services commitment drives down costs, increases the speed and quality in service delivery, and helps citizens to know exactly which entity to  contact and better understand the process for the service delivery.

The way ahead

The main reason for implementing Openness policies is improving governance in every applicable field - administrative reform, justice, education - so that citizens can monitor State operations and receive better services.

The passage of a new framework-law on Open Government in Greece will connect existing capabilities with new ones, thereby strengthening the democratic institutions and upgrading citizens’ role in decision making and implementation.

Open Government is the primary method for improving democracy and institutions, fostering human rights, and giving necessary new breath to the political system, to guarantee its reliability.

Blog post published by Stavros Tasiopoulos for Open Government Partnership