Survey — People's view of participatory democracy
The purpose of this survey was to engage with a sample of the New Zealand public and collect thoughts and opinions in regards to a participatory democracy.
Essentially, would the public like to participate more in government and if so: What methods would they like to use?
What we asked
Do you feel that you have a say in what government does?
Would you like to have more of a say in what government does?
“...so yes, I have had a say, but I remain unconvinced about the effect of that say.”
What way would you like to have your say on issues that matter to you?
- 41% would like to see existing channels improved or look at new channels. These included online referenda and polling, social media, apps and email.
- 38% preferred ‘traditional’ means, for example elections, referenda, community meetings, submissions and polling.
- There was also a call for a dedicated and official online forum.
“...I’m not going to walk into a public meeting or a politician’s office - it’s just not how I interact - but live chat (like Reddit or Facebook) would be a great platform.”
“Have an app or web page where you can vote on issues being debated in parliament or on things that should be brought before parliament.”
“A digital web portal where people can raise their issues and concerns. A user friendly and well-moderated web portal.”
“Through text boxes since it allows me to make a point rather than a binary yes or no answer which doesn’t reflect one’s true feelings as accurately.”
“I think it would great if the government would approach policy-making from a design thinking perspective and make civic input a requirement.”
What might prevent you from having your say?
> Detailed description of graph
28.19% said distrust, 17.75% said not enough info, 16.94% said don't know how, 16.94% said dislike current options, 13.69% said too busy, 6.49% said nothing.
“The fact I believe it wouldn’t make a difference, my voice would get lost as government has an agenda as is merely looking to validate that rather than actually deliver what NZers want.”
“...I like to be fully informed before making a decision... But I also find it very hard to become informed enough to understand a concept fully- especially when talking about politics.”
“Being required to fill in a paper form and mail or deliver it. Ugh.”
“If it is in a public forum (for example social media) I can be reluctant to have my say as it can often cause conflict.”
What are different digital ways you’d like to have your say in the future?
- 38% online voting or polls.
- 25% website or online platform.
- 13% email.
People also expressed an interest in civics education and that government still needs to be aware of developing non-digital channels alongside digital.
We prototyped an idea of how people might want to digitally participate with government. The concept took inspiration from other tools we had seen and from our insights. It was used to prompt people’s ideas and feedback.
“It instantly makes me feel as though my opinion does matter - for example “how would you like to make NZ better”.”
“I think it is a very good idea! I love the fact that you can read other people’s opinions and write your own! Also it’s great that you can ‘create an issue’ and bring up something that you think needs a solution! this means that it’s not just the government starting the conversation, it’s the people!”
> Detailed description of image
The prototype webpage has a question at the top of the page that asks 'How would you like to make NZ better?' Underneath the question is a box where you can search for issues. Underneath this is a section called 'Popular issues'. There are 5 boxes in this section and each box has a category, question or statement, and then 1 or 2 sentences with more information. The bottom of each box shows how many people have given a thumbs up or thumbs down or made a comment.
Box 1. Family. How do we stop abuse of children in state care? Share your opinions and help stop the systemic abuse of children in state care. 609 thumbs up, 120 thumbs down, 259 comments.
Box 2. Health. Let's legalise marijuana for medicinal use. People sufering from chronic or terminal illness deserve urgent access to good-quality, safe, affordable medicinal marijuana. 609 thumbs up, 120 thumbs down, 259 comments.
Box 3. Transport. Bring back the trolley bus. Wellington's remaining 40 trolley buses will be taken off the roads and replaced by diesel buses, sourced from Auckland. 609 thumbs up, 120 thumbs down, 259 comments.
Box 4. Safety. How do we stop aggravated robberies? Many stores around the country have been robbed. How do we stop this pattern? 609 thumbs up, 120 thumbs down, 259 comments.
Box 5. Health. How do we reduce addiction? New Zealand has the highest rates of drug abuse in the world. Every year, thousands of teenages and adolescents in NZ are treated for drug or alcohol addiction. 609 thumbs up, 120 thumbs down, 259 comments.
Is this something you would want to use? Why/why not?
People’s main concerns were comments leading to bullying or trolling, someone actually listening and doing something, moderation of comments and guarantee of security and privacy.
If this was a government site, would that change how you would interact with it?
People said they would participate more actively knowing they would be heard, while others said they would be more careful or reserved when commenting. There were still concerns about privacy and ability to comment anonymously.
“I would need to feel safe in expressing my views. That my privacy was protected.”
“If it’s from the government, it would be credible, so I’d feel like my answers would be heard, so I’d be more active in having my say as opposed to if this was made by a third party company.”
What personal information do you feel comfortable having on display?
There is a tension between the desire to be anonymous and be identifiable to avoid trolling.
- 47% were prepared to share first name only.
- 26% would like to be able to post anonymously or use a nickname/login name.
People were also provided with three issues on which to comment - they were more likely to comment if it could be anonymous, with the level of anonymity increasing as the topic became more controversial.
Other ways you would like to provide your views?
- 29% would like to see more background information on an issue.
- 17% like the idea of providing comments through video or voice message.
- 16% liked the idea of quick polls or voting on different solutions to an issue.
“Video and images! If you can capture something to show, which can provide more proof in your views, then that would be even better.”
Once you’ve provided your views, what would you like to happen next?
- 31% wanted to see direct feedback or action.
- 30% would like updates from the website.
- 21% wanted to receive official feedback from the government.
People also wanted transparency over the process and to access information relating to the results.