Points of View 30th March 2015

Faces of the UK Open Government Network – Javier Ruiz, Open Rights Group

by Josephine Suherman-Bailey

Josephine was a Policy Analyst at Involve. She worked on the Open Government Partnership and supported the coordination of the UK Open Government Partnership civil society network.

Open government can be an abstract idea. We want to give people a better idea of what it is, and who is in the UK Open Government Civil Society Network. We’ve asked some existing members of the network to give us their thoughts on what open government means to them, why it’s important, where they have seen open government make a difference to the lives of citizens, and the reforms they would ask of government.

We’ll be publishing a series of profiles of members of the network every few weeks, so keep a lookout! Our fourth blog is Javier Ruiz from Open Rights Group.

 Javier Ruiz, Open Rights Group

javier-400Open government means understanding that power ultimately resides on the people, not just parliaments, and information and decision making processes have to follow suit. Open government is not a complete replacement for democratic institutions though. The vast majority of citizens want to delegate many jobs and decisions about running society, yet they also want to be in charge. Finding the right balance is very important.

Open government is important because the global drive towards human emancipation brought by the age of revolutions is in danger of sliding back. Extreme inequality, environmental destruction and a retreat to national or religious lines are the most visible aspects, but the slow erosion of self-complacency and cynicism are arguably more damaging. Open government should support the radical social engagement required, and not fall into the alluring traps of technocracy and atomisation.