Sept. 23, 2023

'It's a sense of adventure' - How Vouliwatch is reinventing politics in Greece

Published May 28, 2023, 4:20 p.m. by Naomi Charles

In greece, the traditional way of doing politics is being challenged by a new player on the scene – vouliwatch.

This innovative website is shaking up the way that politics is conducted in greece, by giving ordinary citizens a direct say in the decisions that are made about their country.

vouliwatch is a platform for political participation that allows users to submit, debate and vote on proposals for new laws and policies.

This new form of participatory democracy is already having an impact, with a number of vouliwatch-inspired proposals being adopted by the Greek parliament.

The success of vouliwatch shows that there is a real appetite for change in the way that politics is done in greece. If other countries follow suit, we could see a new era of more open, responsive and accountable politics around the world.

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hello and welcome you came here with

your project volley watch so can you

please explain briefly and tell us more

a lot what is very much of course well

really watch is a non-for-profit

parliamentary monitoring organization

that basically aims at bridging the gap

between citizens and politicians we

started this project about three years

ago in the midst of the economic and

political crisis in Greece because we

saw that a large segment of Greek

citizens were being driven away from

politics they were driven away from the

democratic institutions and they had

lost faith in in parliamentarism and

therefore we thought that the best way

to bridge this divide which was also

causing the rise of like extremist

political groups such as Golden Dawn the

best way therefore we thought to bridge

this divide was to provide citizens with

actual information on Parliament and

give them the opportunity to discuss

openly with their members of parliament

through an online platform that we've

created that seems very interesting so

during your presentation last day you

said that you didn't have any funding in

the start of your project and you

actually weren't sure that it would make

a difference in the situation inside

greek so what made you take the risk Wow

what made me take the risk well as you

correctly said like when when we first

started this project it was basically an

idea that was in in our heads for quite

some time both myself and my colleagues

that started this organization were

living abroad I was living in Brussels

some friends were living in Germany and

we were observing what was going on in

Greece and we thought that we are

privileged enough to be able to live

abroad and have a job abroad and

therefore we should do something to

alleviate the situation as much as we

can in Greece and therefore

you know we s it'sit's a bit of a sense

of adventure or you know I I thought

that if I don't take this risk then I

might never do it so I just closed my

eyes jumped off the cliff and and

immersed myself in this in this project

and I must say that like after three

years that we've been running this

project we are now financially

sustainable we've managed to get like

support from big foundations from

European projects and in a way it's a

risk that has paid off for for us that's

very interesting

so in the beginning how did you get

members of the Parliament and MEP is

involved did you approach them first or

did they come and approach you well when

we first started parliamentarians

politicians political parties were very

very suspicious of you know what's the

purpose of this project who is behind it

are you do you belong in a political

party are you so there was all this

skepticism and and fear and it was a

time where there was a lot of political


and political parties were very careful

especially members of parliament were

very careful where they would open up to

and who they would talk to so initially

it was really hard to get people on

board what we did was to like call each

and every member of parliament

try and do like one-to-one meetings and

to try and convince them to take part

initially we started off with like four

or five members of parliament that

showed some interest and they were

replying to citizen questions that were

submitted via our website

gradually I think we took advantage of

the political situation in Greece

because we had like a lot of elections

and we had the referendum and during

that period of time we developed a

couple of digital applications that

became very popular

and we gained a lot of media attention

so we started being on TV we started

being in the news and that is something

that I think attracted members of

parliament they thought that you know if

we participate in this thing we we show

that you know we're open we're open to

the people we have nothing to hide and

we can also expose our work to a wider

audience so you know it took some time

to work on this but at the moment we've

got about 55% of members of parliament

that are actively engaging with with our

platform that's a great achievement

so what challenges were you actually

facing when you first launched it

bollywood's in Greece I mean the

struggle and how did you actually get

the public attention you just explaining

that during the platforms so in Greece

there is always this kind of vicious

cycle where the public is not engaged in

the parliamentary politics because they

just assume that it's all corrupt and

politicians would actually deal with

impunity because they assume that the

public doesn't care so do you think that

with your application volovich can

volley which acts actually helped break

that cycle this is exactly what what we

want to break we want to break this

vicious cycle of mistrust and I think

that the best way to do this is by

creating transparency because if there

is transparency then people will you

know politicians won't be able to hide

anything if they have anything to hide

I'm not saying that all politicians are

corrupt that's far from the truth but

also citizens can actually trust them

better because they know that okay this

guy you know he's doing his job properly

he's his financial interest statements

are in order and therefore by creating

this like environment this digital

environment of transparency then you

start like creating trust and also the

fact that the citizen can ask a question

to a member of parliament online

publicly and get a reply online publicly

as well

that creates like a I think it creates a

nice precedent and a nice feeling of how

democracy should really be meaning that

the MP should be accountable to to his

citizens to his electorate and I think

that through these digital applications

we are achieving this gradually and the

important thing about this is that as

you know most people that use the

internet social media are young people

and this is we want to target mainly we

want to like instill a new political

culture in young people whereby the

won't be just followers but they'll be

there to actually lead their elected

representatives with their opinions and

wither wither ideas and with their

thoughts so I think that this is the

essence of what we are trying to achieve

that's very good so I have one last


okay so right now there are many other

countries that are facing the same

political situations exactly as Greece

is doing so do you think that in a

culture with transparency and

accountability are almost non-existent

do you think that volovich is a model

that can actually be exported to other

countries all across the globe

I think I think so and this is one of

our one of our goals we ideally I'd like

I'd like to have like fully what

Parliament what organizations throughout

Europe and throughout the world I think

it is exportable regardless of the

political culture and the political

situation because I was having this

conversation yesterday with someone the

important thing is that to solve the

seed to like throw the seed so that

something grows out of it regardless of

what the ground is like you know if you

don't throw the seed because you think

that the culture in this country is not

like society in this country is not

ready then nothing will ever change and

it's a slow process but it's it's a

learning process and it's a process that

takes time but if you have if you

provide a tool like volley what

then eventually even like a small amount

of people that will start using it will

make a difference in their lives and

will start seeing politics differently

and it's very important when we do

projects like this ones to target young

people and also target schools and this

is something that we we are going to do

with volley watch as of next year we're

going to start targeting schools so that

young people can understand or can learn

about democracy in a different way in a

way that is more participatory more

inclusive and where they feel that

they're empowered and that's that's the

key word I think the key word is that a

tool like this can bring a feeling of

empowerment to to people because they

can control their elected

representatives they can have access to

information and they can also

communicate with them in a direct manner


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