The Who-How-What of a petition

Once the schedule is set and the most important stakeholders identified, you can start a petition. First of all, you have to enter your basic data: recipient, region, deadline and depending on where you live and whom you are addressing, a quorum or collection target.


a) Recipient

The recipient of your petition is an entity, which can decide over your cause. If your demands address someone who is not responsible, you don’t gain anything. That’s why it’s important to make sure to address the right entity.

As a recipient you can name a specific person, a legal person, a parliamentary committee or a political, economical or societal organisation. Entries like “Merkel” or “Authority” or “Everybody” make no sense. Generally it is useful to submit your cause to the petitions committee on the respective political level. In Germany, there are petitions committees on federal level and national level. The recipient can be changed afterwards, too. In Germany, nationwide petitions should be submitted to the Bundestag’s petitions committee.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Which political level concerns my petition? Is it a national cause (for example a nationwide ban on importing genetically manipulated vegetables) or is it a regional issue (for example the conservation of the old market square of a city)?

For political petitions in most cases: nation level in Germany: Bundestag’s petitions committee, federal level in Germany: Landtag’s petitions committee, county level in Germany: county council, local level in Germany: city councils. Regional causes mostly address county or city councils.


b)  Region and deadline

The region of your petition is generally dependent on the people affected. Are people living in Cologne affected or people in the entire federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia or all over Germany? If a petition is directed towards the ZDF related to the TV programme, the region would not be Mainz, even if the ZDF is based there, but Germany, because the TV programme affects all citizens.

The deadline depends on your action plan and on external circumstances alike. Is your cause urgent, because there is an important council meeting next week? Or are you working towards an event in two months? A petition on openPetition should not run longer than one year. Longer periods affect your cause’s credibility and its urgency. There is a big difference between collecting 1000 signatures over a month or a year.


c) Quorum and collection target

Petitions addressing non-governmental entities such as TV channels, banks or private companies have a collection target. New feature: petitioners can now arbitrarily define their collection target – when raising the target, taking it in smaller steps is possible now. Seven days before the end of the petition no more changes can be made.

Petitions on openPetition addressing governmental entities such as the Bundestag, Landtag of a federal state or a city council in Germany or Austria, get an openPetition quorum depending on the number of citizens on the respective state level. We have not yet generated a quorum for other countries than Germany and Austria. In theses cases, we will suggest a collection target.

Submission of signatures: Education on sea requires ships on sea! For the conservation of traditional ships.


Which number should the collection target aim at?

A petition should count with a reasonable collection target, meaning: high enough, to build up public pressure but still realistically reachable. A collection target out of reach is demotivating, whereas a target too low might create the appearance that no effort (and hence no signature) is required anymore. Depending on how large the group of people affected is, the target varies. In a small municipality a few hundred signatures is a lot, whereas a nationwide petition should aim at several 10.000.


What is an openPetition quorum?

If a petition is addressing a parliament (city council, Landtag etc.) in Germany or Austria, there is an openPetition quorum. The quorum level goes by the number of votes a delegate requires to be elected into the respective parliament. Once the openPetition quorum is reached, we ask delegates (city councilmen, Landtag representatives etc.) to leave an official statement. The statements can be seen on the petition’s page and encourage an open dialogue between citizens and politicians. As already explained, we haven’t generated a quorum for other countries than Germany and Austria yet.

Attention: Reaching the openPetition quorum doesn’t mean that your cause is automatically successful. Not reaching the openPetition quorum doesn’t mean that your cause has failed. Petitions that haven’t reached the quorum should also be submitted.


Back to Advice on how to create a successful petition on openPetition.

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