MEXICO CITY – Hackers and political activists have banded together to develop an app aimed at helping independent candidates gather the signatures needed on a petition to get on the ballot in Mexico.
“We view the model of political representation as obsolete,” political activist Gonzalo Ibarra told EFE, adding that there was a gap in the political system that could be bridged using digital technology.
Ibarra and Viridana Hernandez are promoting the app being launched in September by CambialapoliticaYa and Codeando Mexico, the grassroots organizations behind the project.
The political activists have their eye on the 2018 general elections.
The app allows people to gather petition signatures for independent candidacies, federal referendums and citizens’ initiatives.
The timing appears ideal since many observers expect a large number of independent candidates to run for office next year.
The National Electoral Institute (INE) has told the app’s developers that it would like to learn more about the technology, but the agency lacks the tools to process petitions electronically.
The app’s developers see an opportunity due to the inefficiency of collecting petition signatures using paper.
“The reality is that they have a system with lots of deficiencies in this regard,” Hernandez said, adding that the new technology would lead to huge cost savings.
Citizens would also have “much more weight in (making) decisions” and would gain access to “different forms of participation in power,” Ibarra said.
The goal is not to do away with the traditional political parties, but to stimulate competition via the app, improving the existing political organizations, the activists said.
“Independent candidates will refresh the political environment in many ways,” Ibarra said.
The app was developed using open code, staying true to the goal of providing users with full transparency.
Hernandez said the new app would go beyond Change.org, known around the world for enabling petition drives, because the focus would be on promoting real initiatives in the political system.