Since 2000, a number of parliaments and governments have introduced electronic petitions systems (e-petitions). Compared to most other means of e-participation made available by public institutions, e-petitions have moved beyond the experimental stage and are characterized by a high level of institutionalization and procedural maturity. Hence, the field of e-petitioning is particularly promising if the relationship between public institutions and Internet-based participation channels is to be better understood. Based on empirical data generated in the research project "Public electronic petitions and civic involvement" conducted on behalf of the German Bundestag, the article undertakes an analysis of the e-petition systems of the Scottish Parliament, the Parliament of Queensland, the Bundestag and the Norwegian Municipalities in comparative perspective. Apart from presenting the systems’ main technical and procedural features and selected user statistics, the article attempts to explain the high attractiveness of e-petitions for parliaments and governments.