Decidim. Free Open-Source participatory democracy for cities and organizations

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award


Decidim, from the Catalan "let’s decide" or “we decide”, is a digital infrastructure for participatory democracy, a digital platform, built entirely and collaboratively as free software. More specifically, Decidim is a web environment (a framework) produced in Ruby on Rails (a programming language) that allows anybody to create and configure a website platform to be used in the form of a political network for democratic participation. The platform allows any organization (local city council, association, university, NGO, neighbourhood or cooperative) to create mass processes for strategic planning, participatory budgeting, public consultation, collaborative design for regulations, urban spaces and election processes, etc. It also makes possible to connect traditional in-person democratic meetings (assemblies, council meetings, etc.) with the digital world: sending meeting invites, managing registrations, facilitating the publication of minutes, etc. In addition, Decidim enables the structuring of government bodies or assemblies (councils, boards, working groups), the convening of consultations, referendums or channelling citizen or member initiatives to trigger different decision-making processes. Yet, the Decidim project is much more than that.

Decidim is designed under their own social contract principles like transparency, traceability, integrity, privacy (ensuring the protection of personal data), security, accessibility, openness to collaboration, technological sovereignty and citizen engagement. Decidim was born in 2016 in Barcelona and the main instance of the project is the platform for de City of Barcelona ( with more than 30000 participants, 13000 citizen proposals (9000 of them accepted and converted to public policies), 190000 supports, 20000 comments, 1300 physical meetings, 40 participatory process, 15 citizen initiatives or 190 participatory councils. Today more than 80 public institutions in the world are using Decidim (cities, regional and national governments) and more than 30 social organizations as NGOs. Decidim is designed to be used and administered by public officers and is very easy to configure spaces for participation (initiatives, assemblies, processes or consultations) and enrich them through the multiple available components (face-to-face meetings, surveys, proposals, voting, follow-up of results, comments and many more). Decidim is working on new developments to integrate the platform with other technologies as encrypted voting systems, blockchain for online petitions, artificial intelligence to improve high-scale deliberation process, and improving the mobile uses of the platform.

Decidim is a public-common’s, free and open, digital infrastructure for participatory democracy. The term “public-commons” indicates that the project is mostly financed and made possible by public institutions and is managed and designed by an open community constituted by public-servants, members of different associations, university researchers and students, activists and staff from foundations, workers from different companies or simply volunteers that commit to the principles of the project. For this infrastructure to be a common’s it is important that these partners organize democratically in relation to the project. In this sense, Decidim is a reflexive infrastructure that uses the very infrastructure to democratize itself through the MetaDecidim community.

Decidim. Free Open-Source participatory democracy for cities and organizations (41.38253336059336, 2.177095413208008)
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