Abstract. Throughout the history, government and society have been interconnected. The state is an instrument for the implementation of the sovereign will of society, of the entire people. A citizen having a trouble in any sphere of his/her life, be it healthcare or education, tries to communicate with the government. Sometimes, the communication can be successful and citizen finds the solution of the issue. However, there are cases when the demands and problems of the society are left unheard. Each state creates policies to build an effective communication with its people. The article will provide the analysis of tools and actions of Kazakhstani and Swedish governments to build an efficient relationship with its society.
In the UN understanding, governance is democratic only when each individual and all citizens, without exception, have the opportunity to build their future and ensure the development of their society. Respect for human rights is a prerequisite for realizing human potential. The main problems in the effective realization of human rights are the lack of democracy, weakness of leaders and democratic institutions .
As the President of Kazakhstan, K. Tokayev claims “Kazakhstani citizens are greatly concerned about the development of a dialogue between the authorities and society. Such a dialogue should be based on the recognition of pluralism of opinions. Different opinions, but one nation. Here is the main landmark” .
In general, the orientation of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and his team towards openness, the implementation of a dialogue with society, the creation of new and improvement of existing mechanisms of interaction of state bodies of all levels with citizens and non-state structures fully justifies itself, contributing to an increase in the level of public confidence in the country’s leadership and its support of the official political course.
One of the state-of-the-art tools to build an efficient communication with the population is to create an online platform. Since April 22, 2019, the Virtual Reception of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan has been operating. It enables every citizen to send inquiries to the name of the Head of State and receive answers that have legal force. In just 3 months since the opening of this reception, about 1,500 applications were received here, which were subsequently considered by authorized employees of the Presidential Administration .
During his election campaign, Tokayev initiated a republican action “Birge” from May 13 to June 7, 2019, within the framework of which interested citizens were given the opportunity to voice their concerns and offer their options for their solution, sending them to the public reception offices of the then candidate for Presidents of the Republic of Kazakhstan. As a result of this action, Tokayev received more than 500 thousand proposals and wishes. Later, they and the provisions of the pre-election program of the Head of State formed the basis for a list of 106 measures within 19 directions entrusted to implementation by authorized state bodies. In addition, during the preelection campaign, 228 public reception offices of Tokayev worked throughout the country, receiving more than 21 thousand citizens .
In his first Address to the people of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev put forward the concept of a “Hearing State”, which is a mechanism for ensuring a constant dialogue between the authorities and society, responding promptly and effectively to all requests of citizens. It is obvious that the practical implementation of this concept is carried out as follows. First of all, on June 12, 2019, the National Council of Public Confidence was established under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The main goal of its activities is to develop proposals and recommendations on topical issues of state policy based on a broad discussion with representatives of the public. The Council’s competence includes such tasks as conducting a public examination of draft concepts, state programs and regulatory legal acts, considering significant strategic issues taking into account the views of civil society, ensuring a constructive dialogue between representatives of the public, political parties, the non-governmental sector and government bodies .
During the second meeting of the National Council of Public Trust, held on December 20, 2019, the Head of State summed up the interim results of the work of this body and outlined specific measures that constituted the first package of reforms of a political, economic and social nature. The following activities are included in the political and legal block of relevant reforms:
- Introduction of the principle of notification of organizing peaceful assemblies.
- Reducing the registration barriers required to create political parties, including reducing the minimum number of party members from 40 thousand to 20 thousand people.
- Introduction of a mandatory 30% quota for women and youth on the electoral lists of political parties.
- Legalization of the institution of parliamentary opposition.
- Ensuring the accession of Kazakhstan to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
- Humanization of Article 174 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Incitement of social, national, tribal, racial, class or religious hatred) .
Another important direction in the implementation of the concept of the “Hearing State” is to improve the mechanisms of interaction between state bodies of different levels with the population. In addition to the Virtual Reception, in July 2019, in the Administration of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a Department for monitoring the consideration of applications was created .
In his Address to the people of Kazakhstan dated September 2, 2019 “Constructive public dialogue is the basis of stability and prosperity in Kazakhstan”, the Head of State Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev set a specific task for the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan to improve the legislation on rallies. In particular, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan noted that “According to the Constitution, our citizens have the right to freely express their will. If peaceful actions do not pursue the goal of violating the law and the peace of citizens, then you need to meet halfway and, in accordance with the procedure established by law, give permission for their conduct, allocate special places for this. Moreover, not on the outskirts of cities. But any calls for unconstitutional actions, hooligan actions will be suppressed within the law “. Moreover, the director of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Zarema Shaukenova claims that the law on peaceful assemblies signed by the President has become a confirmation of the successful implementation of the concept of a “hearing state ”, since with the adoption of this law, the channel of communication between the authorities and society is expanding. Any protest action is a signal for the authorities, a way to get feedback from the active part of Kazakhstanis, expressing certain moods in society, publicly voicing problematic issues, requests and aspirations of certain groups of the population, as well as individual citizens .
The general public’s trust in the European Union, as in other political institutions, has steadily eroded over the past decades, with a significant drop since the start of the financial and economic crisis in 2008. Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, acknowledged this worrying trend in his inaugural speech at the European Parliament in November 2014, when he set the tone for his “lastchance Commission”: “Either we succeed in bringing the European citizens closer to Europe — or we will fail” .
If to speak about one European state, Sweden has for a long time been viewed as a paradigmatic case for progressive politics. Swedish social democracy, to which the progressive character of such politics was attributed, could legitimately claim to have mastered the historic task of the revisionist Left: building a societal coalition around the goal of enhancing social welfare for all, while safeguarding the profitability of business and delivering economic growth.
Openness and transparency are vital ingredients in Swedish democracy. A democratic society is protected by four basic laws: The Government Act, the Freedom of the Press Act, the Basic Law on Freedom of Expression and the Succession Act. These laws constitute the Swedish Constitution and take precedence over all other laws. The constitution states that all citizens have the right to freely seek information, organize demonstrations, form political parties and practice their religion.
Based on the idea of transparency, Sweden has a website – openaid.se – which is built on open government data. It offers individuals, NGOs, aid recipients and officials the chance to access and study official government data. The aim is to further transparency and openness in humanitarian efforts and to inspire other institutions to increase their transparency and openness towards the public .
In Sweden, plenty of NGOs as well as individual activists are involved in the advancement of human rights. Among the Swedish organizations active both at home and abroad is Civil Rights Defenders, which works to empower human rights activists at risk .
Moreover, Sweden is committed to increasing digital collaboration among government agencies in order to improve citizen-centric services. With this commitment, the government expected to promote a more open government that supports innovation and participation by working towards a shared and open digital infrastructure. Overall, this commitment was found to have moderate potential impact. The milestone activities were important prerequisites for the implementation of the innovative, multi-annual e-government programme. The programme, adopted by Parliament in December 2014, is focused on the development of digital services to facilitate contacts between public authorities and citizens or companies .
Sweden has a remarkable track record in sustaining a high level of well-being of its citizens. The country performs above the OECD average in all dimensions of the OECD’s Better Life Index, and these good outcomes are typically shared widely across the population. In addition, Sweden is one of the leading countries in receiving asylum seekers.
To sum up, based on the analysis we can state that both states are making conditions for better life of their citizens. In the times of technological progress, interaction of government and society is based on electronic platform. In both countries electronic platform was built “to hear” their citizens. We can claim that current task of governments is to form effective feedback with the population. The task of state bodies is to comply with the criteria of a “hearing state”, to work out in detail each appeal received, to actively explain in an accessible language information about current programs and policies pursued by state bodies etc.
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