‘Wiki Manifesto’ Idea Endorsed by Plaid Cymru Leader
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has called for a ‘Wiki-manifesto’ to be adopted by her party to incorporate ideas from people throughout Wales as to how to transform the country.
Ms Wood said a new kind of politics that is “creative, social and local” should be cultivated and fostered to overcome the prevailing voter apathy blighting democracy in Wales, the UK and further afield.
Ahead of the police commissioner elections next week which are predicted to be most notable for having an all-time low voter turn-out, Ms Wood will tell an audience at a lecture hosted by the International Department of Politics at Aberystwyth University on Monday that it is time to embrace the participatory approach to politics that has proven successful in other parts of the world.
Ms Wood said: “We are stuck in a 19th century time warp in Wales by inviting people to express themselves just once every five years by using those high-tech innovations: paper, a graphite pencil, a curtain and a wooden booth, or a stamp if they are a postal voter.
“We need to open the 'source code' of the policy development process - because politicians do not have a monopoly on good ideas. The glass panes of the Senedd should not just be there to improve transparency - they should also allow ideas from outside in.
“I want the Party of Wales to lead by example and create the world's first wiki-manifesto, a manifesto created collaboratively by the people of Wales, for the people of Wales.
“This proposal will enable everyone to propose ideas, to debate and discuss. Those ideas will culminate in a special conference of party members and policy advocates where the product of our national creativity will be ratified as Plaid Cymru’s programme for the 2016 elections.”
She added: “This kind of participatory approach to politics was first invented in Porto Alegre in 1989, the first city in the world to consult the electorate line-by-line on their annual budget.
“Latin America has continued to be the innovator in this area. The Mexican government, for example, has ‘crowd-sourced’ suggestions from the public asking them to identify the most useless bureaucratic procedure that should be abolished.
“And the Chilean government has an online site which allows ordinary citizens to comment on and suggest amendments to Bills as they progress through Parliament.
“Iceland has also led the way with the world’s first ‘crowd-sourced constitution which invites suggestions from Facebook and Twitter on how to run the country.”
Ms Wood said particular efforts should be made to engage young people in politics.
“There should be an emphasis on encouraging young people to participate in politics because many of the decisions taken now will have a major impact on their futures,” said Ms Wood.
“I am in favour of what the SNP Government in Scotland has done by extending the vote to 16 and 17-years-olds for the upcoming referendum on an independent Scotland. Young people on the cusp of adulthood have a stake in the future so they should have a say in the way their country is run.
“Extending the vote to 16 to 17-year-old in Wales would have to be accompanied by an education programme so that teenagers can come to an informed decision when casting their vote.
“These are the sort of steps we need to take if we are to overcome the collapse in trust in politics and the collapse in democracy worldwide.”