As the Argentine elections approach, politicians are committing to answering Change.org petitions to increase direct dialogue with their citizens.
By Inés Alberico, Change.org Foundation Campaigner in Argentina
This year Argentina will elect a president, one-third of the Senate and half of their Chamber of Deputies. Through Change.org, Argentines are taking this opportunity to request that candidates commit to a range of promises – including changing the statute of limitations on sexual abuse crimes, eliminating plastic waste and a Clean Record Act, which prevents anyone with a conviction for a crime from running for office.
All petitions on Change.org list the political leaders or decision-makers who are able to address the problem. Our staff then engages these decision-makers to answer the petitions directly.
With the elections upcoming, the number of politicians who are answering petitions directly on Change.org increased from 7 to 46. As more politicians commit to answering petitions, we think that this kind of dialogue will be naturalized and continued after the election.
For example, Thelma started a campaign asking for there not to be a statute of limitations on reporting crimes of sexual abuse. Luis Petri, a Congressional Representative, saw her petition on Change.org and answered it – telling the 79,000 signers of Thelma’s petition he had presented a bill to make this a reality. This way, he began a dialogue directly with the people who were interested in this specific issue.
Gastón Ignacio Marra is another citizen who is pushing for a new law that will prevent anyone who has been convicted for a crime from being a candidate. Over 170,000 people supported in his campaign and 7 National Deputies responded directly to these people saying that they are who presenting motions in the Congress to make this a reality. Now, these politicians have publicly made a commitment to get this Law passed in Congress.
Sometimes, people who start campaigns don’t get the answer they expected, but they learn from it. This happened to Marcelo, who started a campaign asking the Mayor of Buenos Aires for the subway to be an “essential service”, which means that even though there is a strike, there has to be at least a reduced service. The mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, answered that since this could only be declared by a National Law, he wasn’t the person to decide this. Knowing that, Marcelo and his supporters were able to refocus their efforts on gaining more support and asking the right decision-maker to make the change they wanted to see.
When politicians respond to one campaign, our data shows they are then more likely to commit to answering more petitions on Change.org. It is a unique way for them to approach an audience that’s interested in a specific issue and is a good way for them to engage with their voters.
We want to strengthen political transparency and citizen engagement in Argentina by making representatives answer the concerns of citizens that are reflected in campaigns in our platform. We want Change.org to serve as a democratic bridge between citizens and politicians.
To do this better, we are launching ‘Elecciones 2019’, a project in partnership with Luminate to increase people’s participation in the Argentine election. Over the next 6 months we will bring together citizens and decision-makers online to create dialogue on the important issues for the future of Argentina.