The Political Marketplace is an innovative way of involving the citizens in the political process of the City of Almere
Whereas in most other cities councils have plenary meetings once a month, Almere has one almost every week (on Thursday evenings, three times a month). In 2004, Almere's city council introduced this new form of meeting (the Political Market) for political decision-making. The Political Market is open to the public. Residents can visit the meetings and approach councillors or members of the Municipal Executive to discuss local issues. The meetings are also broadcasted on the website http://gemeenteraad.almere.nl.
In the light of the TITTAN project and it's third thematic area (involving the end user) this practice is interesting bacause it is a good way to integrate end users (citizens) in the policy making process around eHealth development in a municipality or region. Policy is also about how a city or region spends it's budgets. By giving citizens a more active voice in the policy on eHealth, funding will be allocated more directy towards the interest of end users.
1 fte technical support for AV-support during the meetings and for broadcasting. The city board's office consists of about 5 fte. the support the city board and organize the board meetings and prepare them. The city of Almere has 45 city board members.
Evidence of success
There is no direct evidence of this. One research paper suggests the level of democracy is slightly higher where the political market place is applied than in more traditional settings as is the level of involvement of citizens. The practice is still developing despite the fact that it was introduced in 2004.
Social innovation and political innovation are long term innovations that involve all layers of society. Therefor stamina is needed to make changes. There is scepticism about the real extent of citizen involvement.
Potential for learning or transfer
Many municipalities have come to Almere to learn from this practice and have addopted (part of) it in their own contexts. Small steps is the way to go. Make no hasty changes to existing systems since there are many and diverse interests at stake. The Almere City Board Office can provide information about the Political marketplace practice.
It relates to the TITTAN project in that it shows how end users (citizens) can be involved in making decisions on innovation.