Electronic Democracy

Europeans have a Say - Online debates and consultations in the EU

This research project investigated the quality of political discourses online, and seeked to identify how citizens' input concerning political issues on a European level are reflected in current EU policy.


Basically, there are great hopes that new media will enhance civic participation and counteract worrisome developments in political life such as declining voter turnouts. European governments and EU institutions have started to use new information and communication technologies to revive the political sphere, which is supposed to be mainly characterised by deliberative discussions on issues of a common concern. In order to re-connect citizens to the political stage, the EU has set up an initiative called "Your voice in Europe" which provides a space for online debates and consultations linked to profound questions on the future of Europe. Against the background of this EU initiative the project pursued four major goals:

  • To gauge and analyse the civic and discursive potential of the EU's interactive participation platforms for supporting an active citizenry.
  • To identify whether the EU's online talkboards are appropriate spaces for dispassionate, reasoned and logical discussions where citizens learn from each other and reflect on issues before taking a decision.
  • To illustrate where and how citizens' input in online consultations finds expression in the EU's current policy.
  • To detect future-oriented requirements which do not only support socially-inclusive, effective and output-oriented online deliberation processes but also prove to be robust across various plausible scenarios.

The Austrian Ministry for Education, Science and Culture funds the project within the NODE programme (New orientations for democracy in Europe). The project will be conducted in co-operation with the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), Vienna.

07/2003 - 05/2005