In DEMO-net, practitioners and leading European research groups from various disciplines collaborated over more than three years to advance research, development and application in the field of electronic participation.
The ITA’s main contributions were the development of an evaluation framework and an online-training course, as well as advising the Council of Europe on its recommendation on e-democracy. During a “DemoLAB”, an event organised by the Austrian Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (BMUKK), we discussed themes for a democratic future together with high-school students.
e-Participation for more political involvement
DEMO_net, an EU-funded network of excellence (6th Framework Programme) brought together leading researchers and practitioners from 20 European institutions. The goal was to integrate and advance the fragmented research in the strategic field of e-participation and to support its practical application.
The basis was a common definition of e-participation: “E-participation describes efforts to broaden and deepen political participation by enabling citizens to connect with one another and with their elected representatives and governments using information and communication technologies (ICTs)”.
The ITA’s main contributions include the following results:
- the first systematic stock-taking of the European e-participation research landscape together with a social network analysis which clarified research approaches and cooperation relations;
- a framework for evaluating the success of e-participation projects derived from three basic criteria: a project perspective (goals and expectations of key stakeholders), a socio-technical perspective (public take-up and usage, tool assessment) and a democratic perspective (impacts on democracy quality);
- direct policy advice to the Council of Europe on its recommendation on e-democracy (available as a book here), and to the project group on “E-Democracy & E-Participation” at the Federal Chancellery in Austria;
- stakeholder workshops, user communities and cooperation events that enabled academic research and practitioners to exchange knowledge and learn from each other on key issues of e-participation . In the course of the project, the ITA organized, for example, the democracy learning event “DemoLAB” with the then Austrian Minister of Science Johannes Hahn and high school students;
- regular PhD tutorials resulting in the publication of a book, involving and encouraging junior scientists, and online-training courses for e-participation organisers.