Thursday, July 31, 2014

Indonesia's 'People's Cabinet' is one of the most innovative uses of Gov 2.0 in the Asia-Pacific region

In Australia roughly 90% of us use the internet, whereas in Indonesia only around 42% of the population do - which still means that roughly 75 million Indonesians are online, or roughly four times the number of Australians that use the internet.

In fact Indonesia was ranked in 2013 as the fourth largest nation of Facebook users in the world, with 63 million users. This is behind the US with 147 million users, India with 115 million and Brazil with 69 million.

Where does Australia rank for Facebook use? We don't make the top twelve.

Even back in 2012 Indonesia was the fifth largest nation on Twitter by number of accounts and Jakarta was known as the Twitter capital of the world, sending more tweets per day than Tokyo, London, Manchester or New York.

With that level of social media usage, and as 44% of Indonesian voters were aged under 25, meaning that social media was the natural way for them to politically engage,  it's no surprise that the recent election campaign in Indonesia saw some highly innovative use of social media.

After the election the Indonesian President-elect had to decide on his cabinet.

Historically this is a behind-the-doors process, where the President and his advisors consider different candidates, sound them out and then announce the cabinet to the public as a 'done deal'.

Australia follows a similar model when the Prime Minister decides on his Cabinet Ministers (with the difference that they must be elected members of parliament). The decision is made behind closed doors, with some media and community speculation but no public engagement.

President-elect Jokoni, however, decided to follow a different model. He crowdsourced his cabinet.

Rather than making the selection a closed process, his team created and promoted a Google Survey where they identified three candidates for each of the 34 Cabinet positions and asked the Indonesian public to vote for which candidate they thought was most appropriate for the role.

If citizens didn't like any of the candidates, they even had the option to suggest their own.

The form specified that the President would ultimately decide which candidate was right for which role (fair enough), but the public did get the right to have a say.

You can see the original Google Form here (and at left translated), although the process has now closed.

It has now been moved and is live instead at eSurv: (translated image at left).

As of last week, over 18,000 people had given their views on which candidates they preferred for each role.

What influence did the public have over these choices? It's too early to say. However the approach adds a new level of engagement and transparency to the Cabinet selection process.

Could Australia do this type of thing? Well actually I've created a tool to do this, though it hasn't been used in an actual election as yet (keep your eyes open).

More importantly - would Australian governments do this type of thing? Have a Premier or Prime Minister give up some level of decision control in return for improved engagement and insights into public views?

Whether or not the current crop of politicians see the benefits, the next group probably will.

Hopefully they'll also be more willing to look beyond the anglosphere at some of the most innovative use of Gov 2.0 going on in elsewhere in the world, particulary in our neighbours.

As Professor David Hill of Murdoch University told The Citizen about Indonesia's attempt to crowdsource a cabinet, “This is a highly technologically-engaged electorate and there’s a lot that Australian political parties could learn from their Indonesian counterparts.”

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