#CeDEM13 day 1, morning, Track: E-Democracy and E-Participation

E-Democracy and E-Participation, Main Hall

Chair: Jakob M. Svensson

At the moment democracy is maintained by a limited number of converstations (200-300 issues annually for a Dutch city of 500,000 such as The Hague) – and 80% are really small (supported by the existing IT) and only 5% are large enough to be made into a project. Mulder suggests that there is an urgent need to broadly implement e-democracy, and considers how e-democracy tools can support e-democracy. He specifically looks at applied edemocracy in The Netherlands,  as government needs tob e transformed quickly.

There is reasearch on democracy or on technology,but not on devleoping critieria for better systems. Thus there ist he need for a conceptual framework that can help the adoption of e-democracy and the quality of solutions.

Following this presentation, Quirke wonders whether e-democracy is a myth? E-government has focused more on sharing information and on providing transactional services. So how has e-participation had an impact on democratic governance? They look at 2 case studies where e-participation has had an impact on government: a youth engagment project in Milton Keynes (UK)  which led to a youth cabinet, and constitutional crowdsourcing in Icleand.  n the basis of the outcomes, they developed  a theoretical framework, and suggest that e-democracy cannot be seen as a discrete activity – it is trainagular. Citizens and their government, the combination of online and offline engagement, open transparent egnagment between stakeholders and their governmentare necessary to achieve qualitative dialogue and achieve aims. In addition to describing the characteristics, civic pressure, change in government culture, a power shift is needed and must be allowed. It is also important to consider the limitations such as accoutnability and the negative ramifications of poor decisions.

Wihlborg and Gustafsson discuss the eID introduced in Sweden in 2002 within the context of online interaction in Swedish schools. Schools process a great deal of information, often sensitive information e.g. about the pupils. In adidition, a recent law requires a radical change in schools, the developement  of schools and the role of teachers and principals. Their study looks at the use of  eID in schools, the dialouge between the different actors and how to organize safe on-line interaction.

One of the main findings was that trust is necessary for participation to be successful. But here trust has more than one aspect and includes trust in security, in the eID as a tool and in the user’s own knowledge in being able to use the platform. In addition secrutiy is an issue of privacy. Thus this is not only a technical challenge, but also an organisational challenge, a secrutiy challenge that requires the development or development and trust in the system.

Katharina Große comes with a hammer – as an example of a tool that has a specific function. A Swiss army knife instead has more functions – and explains how this is a methpahor for e-participation. But is e-participaiton a swiss army knife? Or is it a hammer? Katharina first presents the expectations people (politicians) have towards e-participation: mobilisation, accepatance of decisions, a new form of communication, a tool for improving decision-making. Are these expectatons correct? She identifies the 2 functions  of e-participation: communiation and intelligence, but in a very specific way, either as an observation hatchet or as a project-based elite consultation.

  • Bert Mulder, Martijn Hartog – Applied e-democracy: the need for an information framework to support development

  • Julie Freeman, Sharna Quirke – Is E-Democracy a Myth? Civic Participation and Democratic Reform
  • Elin Wihlborg, Mariana S. Gustafsson – Organizing safe on-line interaction and trust in governmental services
  • Katharina Große – E-participation – the Swiss army knife of politics?

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