The Citizen Handbook

Citizen Participation

Citizen Tools for Participation

Public Petitions

Public petitions can be an important avenue for those who wish to influence public officials. A well-documented and supported petition will always have persuasive influence in all areas of public policy-making. Petitions to other targets (non-government) can also help to form or shape public opinion and ultimately bring about change. A successful petition will complement a strategy that includes direct lobbying, letter writing and media exposure.

Writing a Petition

Writing a petition is not as difficult as you might think. For great campaign results, however, you should consider a number of factors including your target audience, proper research, clear communication, and promoting your petition. 

Identify Your Target

The first task of effective petition writing is to identify your target audience. The list below provides some possible targets:

     · National and county governments, parliaments, and politicians

     · Political parties, presidents, prime ministers, governors, senators, and ambassadors

     · Media organisations

     · Neighbourhood authorities

     · Business associations

Know the Legal Rules of a Petition

It is very important that you research what the official rules are around the legalities of submitting a petition to your target. You need to follow rules about:

  •  How many signatures are needed to qualify for submission
  •  How those signatures must be verified
  •  How and where you submit the petition
  •  What legal weight the petition may hold

Text of the Petition

A petition should begin with a request, followed by well-researched reasons for making the request. Each petition should provide a description of relevant circumstances and links to documentation or facts that support that description. Moreover, a petition should contain information that suggests its request is feasible. Do not fill your petition with information or requests that have no clear connection to the main message. Read over your petition carefully. Make sure it describes the situation, suggests what is needed, and explains why it is needed. Below is a template petition to help you get started.

Template Petition

Petition to [Enter Here the Action You are Petitioning For]

Petition summary and background

[Enter here the background of and reasons for this petition]

Action petitioned for

We, the undersigned are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to [Enter here the action item(s) for which you are petitioning]






Printed Name






How to Promote Your Petition

How you promote your petition will have a critical influence on the outcome of your campaign. If you think it is appropriate, you can do an online petition instead of a physical paper petition. To promote your petition, you can spread the message to friends, family, social networks and through the media. You should also raise your issues in forums and discussion groups, and email as all of your contacts.

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