Smart Participation and Democracy

Democracy is an institutional order, a form of government, a majority principle. But it is also much more! Democracy is a system of values, an attitude, a cultural state. Democracy is the right to co-determination, the right to collectively shape our future. 

But it is not only a matter of having the right to collectively decide how we live together. It is also about having the ability to exercise it. Democracy therefore begins with the formation of opinion and extends to participation in votes and elections. Of course, the final (political) decision – often taken at the ballot box – is an essential element of democracy. But the process that takes place before, between, and after that decision is made, is just as important – if not more. 

Democracy is far from perfect. Democracy needs good input to achieve good results. As Churchill famously stated: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” But for all its faults, for us, democracy is a desirable ideal state. We believe that digital tools can improve people’s ability to shape and co-determine the rules and policies which influence their lives.

Our Goal

The Prototype Fund CH aims to bring to fruition project proposals that use digital means to strengthen democratic participation in Switzerland. We look for projects that increase political transparency, enable and engage citizens, promote participation or support opinion formation. 

Unpolitical but still political? 
We think that formal linkages of digital-democratic projects with the political system are important. But great political projects can also be created outside the (professional) political system.

However, many digital projects that promote smart participation fail because a tool is simply not used by those it seeks to support. We therefore encourage you, before submitting your idea, to contact relevant civil society actors in order to explore whether there is an active interest in your project.

In case you are not sure whether your project fits the bill, do not hesitate to contact us at .

Informing Citizens and Residents
Notifying citizens and residents of forthcoming debates, votes and consultations and/or improving access to them.

Issue Framing
Enable citizens and residents to raise awareness of specific issues and set the agenda for public debate.

Providing Information
To enable citizens and residents to exchange information on specific problems and to understand individual needs or major patterns and trends.

Providing Ideas
Enable citizens and residents to provide ideas for new, improved or future-oriented solutions. Typically build on contextual knowledge and experience.

Providing Technical Expertise

Deliberating
Platforms and instruments that give citizens and residents the opportunity to seek advice.

Developing Proposals
Enable citizens and residents to elaborate, develop and modify specific proposals individually, collectively or jointly and/or with civil servants

Scrutinising Proposals
Enable citizens and residents to consider certain options

Making Decisions
Review and evaluation of public sector activities and services

Monitoring and Assessing Public Actions and Services
Provision of information on policy and legislation implementation, decision-making processes, policy outcomes and elected officials’ records to enable citizens to monitor and evaluate.