A group of Lebanese students and young professionals from Harvard launched Lebanocracia, an interactive platform allowing Lebanese citizens to vote for their most pressing demands.
Even though they are not in Lebanon, Romy El Sayah, Carla Saad, Angelo-Gabriel Mikael, Ali Noueihed, Layane Alhorr, Rossi Abi Rafeh and Alia Bader are making up for it. The group of Lebanese students and young professionals from Harvard launched Lebanocracia, an interactive platform aimed at better understanding Lebanese citizen’s demands and prioritizing them.
“We were gathered at Ali’s place to discuss how we can contribute in making a change from afar given Lebanon’s recent events,” remembers Layane Alhorr, a PhD student. “Like many young Lebanese, we chose to pursue parts of our education abroad, including at Harvard where we met, Though “our drive and passion to give back is exactly how this adventure started,” she adds.
Inspired by a platform designed for Chile
The idea of an existing platform, Chilecracia, came out. Launched after the beginning of a popular uprising in the country on October 18th, the platform uses peer comparison to rank citizens’ preferences. Series of two items are placed next to each other and voters have to elect the demand they consider to be more important. Almost 7.6 million preferences have already been expressed on Chilecracia by around 128,000 participants.
The group of young Lebanese, inspired by this success, got in touch with its founder, MIT professor Cesar Hidalgo, to adapt it to Lebanon. “In a country and time where many policies are being debated, we thought this platform would add a great value in Lebanon, allowing people to express their preferences and discover others,” says Layane Alhorr.
Anti-corruption, accountability and new governance
Lebanocracia was launched on November 16th with a first batch of 90 proposals for web users to vote anonymously. These topics were compiled from consultations with people of various political inclinations and social sectors, as well as proposals shared by social networks.
So far, more than 240,000 votes have been collected on the platform by around 15,000 users, and Lebanocracia still hopes to receive more.
Early observations indicate that people highly prioritize measures related to anti-corruption (recovery of stolen public funds); accountability (judicial independence); new governance (technocratic/independent gov); and some daily demands (electricity 24h/day, a waste management solution, and health coverage).
On youth, the demand for increased funding for public schools ranked 42, and the same demand for the Lebanese University ranked 53.
“While this remains preliminary results and has inherent bias of only reflecting the views of Internet users who participate in, we hope to analyze, disaggregate, and publish more detailed results in the future”, she adds.
With one final objective: to contribute in recommending top solutions voted on for decision-makers to consider when the time comes.
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