Open Parliament, the Senate in the Net (I): Transparency and communication

Notes from the Open Parliament: the Senate in the Net, organized by the Spanish Senate in Madrid, Spain, in November 12, 2012. More notes on this event: senadored.

Round table on transparency and communication. Chairs the Vicepresidenta 2ª del Senado Dª. Yolanda Vicente González.

Dª Mónica Almiñana Riqué. Senadora del Grupo Parlamentario Entesa pel Progrés de Catalunya.

How can we analyse the state of transparency in Spanish olitics?

The first law on the right to information is the US Freedom Act (1966)… when Spain did not have even a Democracy. That is, access to information still is a young matter in Spain. In the meanwhile, there’s been a technological revolution that has radically transformed itself the definition of access to information.

In Spain, the third problem is political parties and the political class, only below the economic crisis and unemployment. Notwithstanding, people still believe that democracy is the best of systems. People feel that they are not informed about what is happening in politics and people are occupying streets and plazas to demand for a better democracy.

There is the threat that this political disaffection becomes structural, yielding to unrest, radicalization of the political discourse, etc.

Dª Carmen Azuara Navarro. Senadora del Grupo Parlamentario Popular.

In the new website of the Senate the focus has been put on transparency, on letting know the citizen what is being dealt with in the Senate.

Besides transparency, the digitization of most information will mean more efficiency in terms of costs of communications.

D. Rafael Rubio. Profesor de Derecho Constitucional de la Universidad Complutense.

The Senate has a new website: what now? what comes next?

It is no use that the website aims at transparency if the attitudes of the Senate are not towards transparency. How will citizens use the information at their reach?

Some threats:

  • Representatives are digitally illiterate.
  • Citizens do not know about the processes in the Parliament.
  • Citizens are also digitally illiterate.
  • Too much effort to use.
  • Lack of dialogue.
  • Too much information and too complex.
  • Divides: digital, political, cultural, social.
  • Lack of answers or ability to provide answers.
  • Self-criticism: knowing what works and what does not.

So, what for a new website? To reinforce the (traditional) characteristics of the Senate: representativeness, transparency, accessibility, responsibility, efficacy, openness, confidence, better communication, rationalizing the legislative process, new ways of participation.

The Senate has to have its own voice, without intermediation, enabling communication.

We have to be aware of (1) whom are we talking to and (2) what are their languages so we can adapt our message to them.

And there is an urgent need for inter-institutional collaboration.

D. Luis Izquierdo. Presidente de la Asociación de Periodistas Parlamentarios.

Spain does not have a long tradition in matters of culture of transparency.

Transparency International España has several indices that measure the quality of transparency in Spanish municipalities, provinces and autonomous communities.

Transparency is not only about publishing information, but about getting it to the citizen.

And transparency is not only about the public sector, but also about the private sector, especially big corporations that concentrate big amounts of power.

Media have alto to be transparent. And citizens should be demanding it. There is no accountability in media.

Citizen protests have demanded more transparency to governments and media and these protests have spurred many initiatives related to transparency.

Open Parliament: the Senate in the Net (2012)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2012) “Open Parliament, the Senate in the Net (I): Transparency and communication” In ICTlogy, #110, November 2012. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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  1. Pingback: ICTlogy » SociedadRed » Instituciones tradicionales y ciudadanos en red: el caso de la web del Senado

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