ManaBalss.lv, a social initiative framework similar to Avaaz.org and Change.org, aims to let people bring their ideas into the agenda initiatives for parliaments or state institutions. It was launched in Latvia at the start of July. It stands out with its user-friendly interface and integrated functionality for all involved parties — the users, administrators and the target group (decision makers).

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Three days after its launch, Valdis Zatlers, Latvia’s outgoing president, made a public appeal to use Manabalss.lv. Within a week, Saeima, the parliament of Latvia, decided to vote on the first of Manabalss.lv initiatives, and it was adopted in the first reading. Four weeks later, the same initiative passed the second reading. Thus we can proudly say that in a month’s time, Latvia had passed a new law on the online request of the nation. Additionally, a second initiative hosted on the ManaBalss.lv framework is presently being deliberated in the parliament.

We believe these unique results are due to four basic principles that the ManaBalss.lv creators developed over a 12-month period of research and planning:

  • Development of crowdsource initiatives — Authors of new initiatives are given council by a network of voluntary experts. Their advice helps create thought-out and useful initiatives from the representatives of the people.
  • 100 percent legitimacy — The framework interacts with Latvia’s Internet banks, providing a free and reliable identity check. Saeima members can be absolutely sure that the number of petitioners is a real representation of the civic will. Additionally, the list of petitioners can be compared to the national voters’ register. Personal data accessed by the ManaBalss.lv framework is completely protected; its creators consulted with the best Latvian hackers on the matters of Internet safety.
  • Initiative tracking — The framework has the built-in ability to allow the media or NGOs (non-government organizations) to report on the initiatives’ progress. This pushes participants to follow through on their commitment, and helps them garner more votes if greater support for a particular initiative is necessary.
  • Built for the user — The creators worked with leading marketing and technology experts in Latvia to create the ultimate synthesis of functionality and form and an interface that’s attractive and easy to use. Website http://manabalss.lv/ scores high on both functionality and user interface quality.

We have figured out how to launch this project in your country and in your organistaion! If you’re interested, please let me know either in the comments or e-mail me at kristofs [at] creo [dot] mobi We’re looking for people elsewhere who would be interested in collaboration on this non-profit project to spread direct-democracy over the world.

It started like a side project, when sitting with colleagues we were brainstorming about our country. We noticed that even though Latvians are considered to be politically very inactive and reluctant to engage with anything, we actually are the contrary – we have done the Baltic Way and once 4 years we do Latvian Song and Dace Festival and every year we do the Big Cleanup. What is interesting, we do all those things volutarily, nobody is paid for them. So, we are active nation after all. Its just that we don’t believe in Politics and we feel that we have no say, no voice, no power to get heard. That is where ManaBalss.lv comes in – to let every individual and every organisation get heard, gather like-minded, show the public need to authorities and get their ideas done!

In the beginning of this Summer, our president initiatied the procedure of firing our parliament, because, it didn’t let investigate one of the Latvian oligarchs who is also an MP. In the end of July, people had a referendum and 95% voted pro firing the parliament, so we have new election coming this September.

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