You have the right to ask
GovFaces, the voice tube
In the 21st century the social media provides a great tool for communication. On social media everyone can talk about different topics, like politics, which facilitates politicians to reach citizens by providing information about their goals and visions. This way they can make citizens be interested in voting and making decisions.
This is crucial, especially that the European elections are coming, since in order to make the right decision, we need to know the operation of the European Union and as well the candidates, who will have an impact on our future.
GovFaces is an online platform, which provides a simple and easy-to-follow way for citizens and candidates & members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to interact with each other. GovFaces makes the communication easier and more direct.
Kristóf Papp, the country manager of Hungary told us that there is a distance between the citizens and the political decision-makers. The Hungarian team of GovFaces has 4 members. The task of Eliza Popper is social outreach. Ágnes Fülep is responsible for their Hungarian Facebook page and for the press coverage of GovFaces in Hungary. Gábor Endrődi organizes events and makes sure that the team participates in events organized by other organizations. The aim of the Hungarian team is to reduce the mentioned distance and to provide a direct connection between the citizens and their elected representatives. Their website gives the opportunity for the community to ask questions, to share their ideas and tell their views about the politicians.
“Using GovFaces is simple and practical. After registration you can ask questions from MEPs. The most crucial is that the community is the moderator, as they decide which questions the politicians should give an answer to.”
Besides that the website provides multimedia tools, e.g. video and audio responses for politicians in order the users can know that the answer came directly from the MEP.
GovFaces was launched in March 2014 in the EU and the Hungarian team started the work in April. The platform is available for every EU politicians and this way they have the possibility to interact with the citizens. Since the beginning several MEPs showed interest in joining, however they need some time to realize the values and opportunities of GovFaces to make better use of it.
One of the characteristics of GovFaces is the political neutrality. “We are not being involved in any political party. Our aim is to provide a common dialogue and to open towards each other, no matter what their political ideology is.”
Everything about GovFaces
Kristóf Papp answered several questions about the organization, among others what they are doing to make citizens ask questions and have a say in their future.
Kristóf Papp: Currently we focus on the young generation, but I believe that in every state in the EU there is that 1% who are interested in politics. Our aim in the short term is not to make the population of the EU to be more active in politics. Rather to give the chance to that 1% to be able to connect with the decision-makers.
What is your experience about how politicians react to the questions? Do they give relevant answers?
There are MEPs, who are brave to use the platform, as a result they became more direct towards their voters. Of course this has as well its rules, however I think giving answers goes easily. For example a Belgian politician gave the first vide response and he responded to 3 questions like that.
Which are the most popular issues among young people?
There are many questions and it is always depends on the country. Socio-economic inequalities and youth unemployment are at the moment the most debated topics discussed on GovFaces between citizens and politicians.
What do you think is necessary not just in Hungary, but as well in the EU to have more users, politicians and also citizens, in the platform?
On one hand it is a huge problem, that in spite of talking a lot about the European Union, we don’t have much information about the work, operation and the members of the European Parliament. On the other hand at the years of elections we can see the voter turnout. In order to change that, the citizens and the politicians need to interact with each other. It is crucial to open towards each other, which is possible with GovFaces. The politicians and as well the citizens need to recognize that they can only make proper decisions if they know the goals and values of the others. Follow-up complaints are impossible. Now we have the opportunity that before and even after the elections to stay in touch, to listen to each other and to get answers.
There are other initiatives which have the same goals as GovFaces. In what way are you different from them?
Firstly, GovFaces is politically neutral. Secondly, the function that the community moderates the platform is special and makes GovFaces more direct. This way the representatives and the citizens can better communicate with each other.
The Hungarian team of GovFaces participates in many events, where they present their aims, work and try to make as many citizens interested in GovFaces as possible. In the future they would like to make the presentations more interactive by providing the possibility for live communication between citizens and MEPs through the platform of GovFaces on the spot.
Be brave to ask! Your future is in your hands!
Written by Zsófia Tupi
You can comment this article on the Facebook page of the European Youth Portal in Hungary.