Crowdsourcing is the new black!

Thursday evening in Iceland. People gather in front of their computers to take a look at their new national constitution and send comments. Yes, that is true! It really happened a couple of years ago. The Nordic countries are proud to top the global rankings in democracy and transparency. Giving power to the people comes back to the country. Direct democracy is one thing that can empower people to care more about their country, its present and future. What the Nordic countries do though is a new form of “crowdsourced” democracy. But how do people really take part in these procedures? And what are the lessons learned for the rest of us?
Erupted like a volcano!
Iceland in crisis. 2008 saw the financial collapse of the North Atlantic country. Banks went bankrupt but this was not the most tremendous effect. People -roughly 330.000 living on the island- felt that power had gone away from their hands. The State, the government and bankers ruled the country and this is something they refused to let go. They wanted to rewrite the country’s constitution and claim their power back. And they did it.

They actually crowdsourced it. 1.000 randomly selected Icelanders identified the core values of the new text. Then, they sent them to the Parliament, which ratified them and began the process of recruiting the delegates who would write the new constitution. Such was the interest of the people that there were 5000 candidates for the 25 seats in the committee. After hard work and debate, the new constitution was ready. And people approved it by two thirds in a referendum. Cool huh?

Not Danelaw, but Danish law!
Danelaw was the Danish kingdom that was established in England in the Middle Ages. We are talking about Danish law now. Modern-day Danes can actively take part in the production of new laws. Only recently the new citizens’ agenda initiative, called “Borgerforslag” was established in the country. It literally means “Citizens’ proposal” and enables any Dane to initiate and sign a new law proposal. If it gets support by more than 50.000 fellow Danes, then it gets to the Parliament for review. This is another example of crowdsourced law-making. Research shows that active participation in the public agenda helps build trust between them and the state, the government and the politicians. And when people feel trust and trusted, their level of happiness goes up.