Below, you can find more information on the history of Parliament Watch (in German: Abgeordnetenwatch), about our ideas, goals, projects and finances as well as about our international network.
On abgeordnetenwatch.de (which translates as “member of parliament watch”) users find a blog, petitions and short profiles of their representatives in the federal parliament as well as on the state and EU level.
Questions & Answers
- Every citizen can publicly ask questions which are then answered by the elected officials or current candidates.
- On our blog, we publish articles about lobbying, transparency and similar topics.
- We initiated petitions to implement more transparency and civic participation. Four of them are still running an one of our petitions was already successfull.
- profiles & voting records of the representatives
- an archive of every dialog and article (all questions and answers are saved indefinitely)
- extra earnings (side jobs) of members of parliament
All of these functions are completely free of charge and do not require prior registration. To ensure impartiality, we will not cooperate with political parties, high profile party members or politicians. Over the years, similiar projects have started in other countries, e.g. in Greece and France. Find more information on the Parliament Watch Network.
Parliament Watch leads to transparency and more accountability in politics
A new form of communication
Are we witnessing a revolution? It sure looks like it. The internet has changed the world and even the very nature of democracy. What was unthinkable in the past becomes a reality with Parliamentwatch: Citizens are enabled to engage in direct communication with their representatives and candidates. You can ask questions, endorse a petition or find out more information about your representative. It is quite straightforward and marks nothing less than a revolutionary step from representative democracy to direct democracy.
Why is Parliament Watch so important?
Still today, most democracies in the world have only a few elements of direct participation (if any) and the decision-making process can be opaque.
The German federal parliament (Bundestag), for example, is the most important legislative branch in Germany and currently has 709 members. A little more than 40% of them are elected directly from 299 constituencies, the other half is elected from the parties’ electoral lists to achieve proportional representation in the Bundestag.
On top of that, the legislative bodies of the states (Länder) have each between 50 and 200 members. And finally there's the EU with numerous different institutions and growing impact on legislation in nation member states. No wonder citizens sometimes feel alienated or overwhelmed by politics.
This is where Parliament Watch comes in. We are driven by the vision of a more accessible political elite and a more participatory population.
How does the Question & Answer system work?
It is as easy as can be. With abgeordnetenwatch.de voters, citizens, basically anybody can get in touch with their representatives. All you have to do is give your name and e-mail address. You log on, give your zip code and your voting precinct is immediately found by the computer. You get the profile of your representative and you can fire away your question. All questions and answers are reviewed by a team of moderators to make sure the code of conduct is followed.
Our code of conduct
In particular, questions that meet the following criteria are excluded:
- Questions which are racist, sexist or inflammatory, or which disrespect or deride the victims of totalitarianism, discrimination or persecution
- Questions worded in an insulting, abusive or dehumanising manner
- Questions which intrude into someone's private life
- Questions covered by professional confidentiality
- Contributions which do not constitute a question or a request for a position, but merely express an opinion
- Several supplementary questions (generally more than one, although we reserve the right to use discretion on this)
- Questions from someone working for a candidate, party office or political group, and questions posed by the addressee
How is Parliament Watch financed?
The goal of Parliament Watch is to create a more transparent democratic process and encourage citizens’ participation. These aims can only be reached, when the platform itself stays completely independent. Abgeordnetenwatch.de is financed almost entirely by regular and one-off donations. So far, more than 5,700 donors are supporting us regulary.
How did this all get started?
In 2004, two friends, sociologist Gregor Hackmack (l.) and IT expert Boris Hekele (r.), would sit in a crowded pub in the city of Hamburg. At the time, a referendum on a new election system was held in the city and one particular question reoccured time and again: "How can I vote for a certain person when I don't even know who he or she is?” Gregor and Boris were having a beer when the idea for abgeordnetenwatch.de materialized in their heads. Nowthat German beer known for its purity was the perfect catalyst for democratic change ...
- Visitors per month: Ø 160,000
- Questions answered: approx. 80%
Democracy – just do it! | Gregor Hackmack | TEDxBerlinSalon (July 2017)
Even more information:
Articles about abgeordnetenwatch.de:
Our partner network website: Parliamentwatch Network