Communication between the Civic Initiatives and the State: on the Way to Participatory Democracy
The article describes, on the basis of a survey carried out among members of non-profit associations and a similar public opinion poll, the current situation and development possibilities of cooperation between the state, local authorities and non-profit organisations in Estonia.
The survey, along with other similar surveys, helps to prepare the Riigikogu debate of the Conception for the Development of Civil Society in Estonia. On the basis of the results of this and earlier surveys, it may be stated that there is a lack of skills, resources and channels that civic initiatives use to express citizens’ interests in a democratic country governed by rule of law. When asked about the role of non-profit organisations in the society, 63% of the respondents mentioned presentation of opinions, and 3% policy influence. Answering the question about what they would do when encountering a problem, 56% of the representatives of non-profit associations said they were prepared to exert pressure, and 51% expressed readiness to take recourse to court. In reality, the majority of the respondents, or 55%, have approached the media. Speaking about expectations towards the state, the majority of the representatives of non-profit associations expect public recognition (68%) and financial support (63%); the public opinion, on the other hand, expects the state first and foremost to provide financial support (68%).
The author believes that more attention should be paid to the dialogue between the representatives of the public and non-profit sectors even when resources to solve the problem are lacking at the moment.
Andres Siplane, born 1974, social worker, Tallinn Pedagogical University 1999, MA studies 1999-. Work: social welfare service of Pärnu City Government 1995-2000, adviser at the economic and social information department of the Riigikogu Chancellery 2000-. Affiliation: Pärnu Child Protection Society, Society of Foster Families in Pärnu County, Estonian Volunteer Centre.