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Open Parliament Cyprus
Start date: Nov 1, 2015, End date: Oct 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

It is commonly accepted that democracy, as a form of governance, enjoys high approval ratings. Nonetheless, disappointment with politics (and politicians) is evident throughout Europe. Many people, especially youth, feel powerless and cannot see a way of contributing to politics or to feel heard outside of elections. Coupled with a lack of adequate transparency and accountability, this disappointment has driven voters (especially new or soon to be voters) away from participation in politics. Thus, citizens and politicians are moving further and further apart, election turnout is falling, and fewer and fewer people are willing to become involved in the political life of the country. These tendencies, which are evident throughout Europe, have given grounds to a continent-wide rise or resurgence of extremism movements and parties, targeting primarily the vulnerable youth communities. Youth (around 16-30 years old) is a component of the most productive part of the society & is the main group that faces the societal problems that may occur. During this period, young people try to form ideas, their own political views &they are exposed to everyday incidents, which take place in the political scene. This is the most vulnerable group to extreme ideas & ideologies as they have not yet formulated concrete ideas & personalities. The tendency in Cyprus is no different to the rest of Europe. The continuously falling election turnout, especially among young people, whose apathy and disappointment prevails and the lack of trust in the democratic institutions of the country is at an all-time low: a staggering 91% of respondents to the latest Eurobarometer (Autumn 2014) does not trust political parties, while 77% does not trust the House of Representatives. These percentages are among the 5 highest in Europe. Even though extremist movements have not managed to secure strong percentages among Cypriot voters yet, the disappointment with the mainstream political parties, along with the current volatile economic climate and subsequent unemployment, decreasing societal moral values and growing number of reported incidents related to corruption makes youth vulnerable and should be given adequate tools & education in order to resist affiliating with any extremist ideologies in the future. The scope of this project is to empower young people in Cyprus by creating more opportunities for their participation and greater transparency and accountability in politics. Open Parliament Cyprus (OPC) is going to be the tool to achieve this. OPC will be a web platform that bridges the increasingly widening gap between citizens and their representatives. It will enable citizens to put public questions to their national or European MP. It will be a civic discussion forum where citizens pose direct questions to politicians to better understand their views. The purpose of OPC will be to increase accountability and transparency in politics by creating an ongoing, respectful conversation between citizens and their elected officials, one question at a time. The project objectives are to: -promote the dissemination of a promising tool for active civic engagement with an emphasis on young people -design, develop, test, optimize and evaluate an innovative web based platform for the active and effective engagement of youth in CY -introduce high level of technical innovation related to the interactive web based platform & methodology used in order for it to be developed efficiently -significantly increase the active engagement of young citizens with politics in general and Parliament in particular -demonstrate an innovative method of assessing, evaluating and operating an interactive platform -lead to concrete and practical conclusions regarding the reasons behind political apathy among young people, in Cyprus and the EU -provide insight on how this interactive engagement strategy could be applied at larger scale in other European countries after the completion of the project disseminate the project progress and findings through the World Wide Web, conferences, etc. With its effect on voters, MPs and the media, OPC will strive to increase participation in the political process and to make government more effective and citizen-friendly. It aims to increase voters’ trust in politics and in democracy, moving from a passive to an active democracy. The project brings together an organization that has already successfully developed a similar platform in their own country (VW) and the organization that was behind its technological development (CP), two important players in the field of youth at European (Cafe Babel) and national (CYC) levels and a newly created organization (MW) dedicated to the successful implementation of OPC.
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