Citizens participation to parliamentary activities and decisions in the field of law has gained an ever increasing centrality in the daily political debate. In this context, a first significant signal of the way citizen and politics could relate in the near future comes from Finland, where a recent constitutional amendment has introduced a strong law enforcing popular initiative. The improvement, if we compare it with similar institutions in other countries (such as Italy, where, however, laws of this kind often come against insurmountable difficulties to actually affect the political agenda) is the requirement for parliament to vote on the proposal, in case it would be formally appropriate.
What is striking here is not so much the legislative “opening” itself, (which though seems unthinkable elsewhere) as the "civil society’s" effort to find effective and transparent instruments to translate into practice the potential significance of the law, ensuring that politics and citizenship fruitfully cooperate, each in its own sphere, without conflict or mutual discredit.
To lessen the technical difficulties arising from writing a bill, was created Open Ministry, a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop and structure the law draft proposed by citizens, using crowd-sourcing techniques. The idea, developed by Joonas Pekkanen, essentially takes care of formalizing the law together with the proposing group and a team of lawyers (all for free) and provides the online platform for the collection of signatures.
What is surprising, from the Italian point of view of the writer of this article, is the maturity with which the citizens have made use of this institute which already boasts a number of ongoing proposals. To give an idea of the standard of this initiative I cite the first three proposals born thanks to their online platform (and which in all probability will show up in the parliament very soon): a law to extend marriage to gay and lesbian citizens, a reform of the copyright law, (presented by Common Sense in Copyright on a model which is based on empowerment of fair use and decriminalization of peer to peer exchange) and one to decrease and eventually get rid of fur farms.
The popular law thus becomes an effective system integrating practices of both direct and representative democracy, showing how the latter can interpret the positive instances of citizen participation, avoiding the parties’ sclerosis characterizing the Italian politics, and how citizenry, within an appropriate course of modern legal instruments, can respond with maturity and intelligence to the challenges of new forms of democracy.