The parliamentary monitoring web-platform deputatiuzdelnas.lv was created by the Latvian branch of Transparency International, “Delna”, purpose of which is to fight corruption and ensure transparency on all levels of interaction in Latvia- in politics, business and personal encounters.
The specific aim of the website is to supervise the parliament in fields of anti-corruption, transparency and democracy-building as well as to encourage public interest in the activities of the MPs. Just as gudrasgalvas.lv, it was initially created as a pre-election project with the purpose to warn voters about the black spots in the reputation of election candidates (the project had a thorough methodology that allowed to screen and research all the main candidates).
The website right now contains profiles of all 100 MPs, representing five political parties. New information is added to the website on monthly basis, updating data on the income of members of the MPs, Saeima plenary sessions and committee meetings attendance as well as different issues having to do with their public character and actions. Here’s a snapshot of what the profile looks like:
Whats more, the website also has an archive, which means the profiles of MPs from the previous governments are accessible for viewing – and all the information that has been gathered on the scandals and other shady issues they were involved previously … if at all! Don’t get a wrong impression on Latvian politics!
In addition, Events’ Archive section is updated regularly by publishing brief investigative articles providing details of the events that are directly or indirectly related to corruption, ethical violations, questionable behavior, as well as events that have a direct or indirect impact on anti-corruption work, public participation and transparency.
See how it looks like in the next screenshot below – here you can see the general list of topics (for example, a) important corruption scandals; b) petty scandals; c) protests; d) bank crisis and other topics of importance to Latvian society in the areas of transparency) as well as the subsection on three of the scandals associated with misuses of EU funding!
The website also allows the general public to directly follow some of the legislative process (dealing with topics of transparency, anti-corruption, institution building) in a straightforward, visually appealing and comprehensible way, highlighting who has proposed it, votes on the proposal, debates and commentaries by experts in the field. Like so:
Similarly, the website provides profiles of parties and most significant happenings in relation to anti-corruptionand transparency-related issues. It also “ranks” MP’s according to various criteria – for example, who are the leaders in “abstention” (voting neither for, nor against a specific proposal – which might be characterized as a bit of a cowardly way of behaving in parliament), see below:
In addition, the platform also offers viewers analysis (graphic or otherwise) of the overall politicians’ participation and activism, as well as legislative proposals:
Also, viewers are welcome to comment on any entry posted and engage actively, including asking a question to a MP which activates a widget that links this webpage to communication platform gudrasgalvas.lv! It looks like this:
However, should you actually visit the website’s News section, you will find that none of the posts have any comments on them. It might seem puzzling that a website providing such detailed and comprehensive overview of the legislative process and those responsible for its smooth running, would not enjoy interest and involvement on the behalf of the general public. From what we know – it is the same regarding all of the parliamentary monitoring websites! How do you think: why is that so? In the same way as gudrasgalvas.lv – deputatiuzdelnas.lv isvisited much more often shortly prior to elections (when it publishes information on the reputation of candidates!)
Compared to other parliamentary monitoring websites that we are aware of, deputatiuzdelna.lv invests a tremendous amount of investigative work that has to be done by researchers – for instance, the information on scandals and new, important legislative initiatives cannot be gathered just by re-using information that is already available on the website of the parliament. Delna also has published a policy paper in December 2012 asking parliament to get more data online.
This is a great project that allows MP’s to be held accountable in a way that was impossible prior to the start of Internet era!
[Indra, with some additions from Iveta]