Prospects of internet-based political participation (STOA)

The Internet has opened up new opportunities for political engagement. But to what extent does the potential of e-participation contribute to creating a European public community and improving the quality of democratic decision-making at the EU level?

The project investigated the potential of Internet-based applications to improve political participation and the quality of democratic decision-making in Europe. It looked at opportunities for citizens to participate via the new media, including, among others, e-voting solutions. Good practice examples of e-participation activities of the member states provided a useful basis for recommendations to European decision-makers, as did the results of two discussions with international experts in e-participation and members of the European Parliament.

E-Consultations, E-Petitions, E-Deliberations

There are many examples of how the internet can be used to enhance participation in political processes, including e-consultations, e-petitions, e-deliberation and, in special domains such as budgeting and urban planning. These examples include top-down initiatives to enhance participation as well as bottom-up approaches, where citizens get mobilised and organise their request over the Internet. A major challenge is to allow a constructive linkage of bottom-up and top-down initiatives in order to improve the connectivity of (e-)participation and its integration into political processes. The European Citizens’ Initiative could play a positive role in this respect.

E-Voting not recommended

However, e-voting is no such example and wasn’t recommended for the time being. The reasons for this are primarily cost-benefit considerations, technological issues and reasons of political legitimacy. As elections are at the heart of the democratic process, existing and working election routines should not be changed without good reasons.

Conclusion

The Internet can help to generate a European public. Although the issues discussed are as yet very specific and entail a fragmented rather than a uniform and broadly informed audience, the exchanges cut across national borders. An open question is how these specialised public opinions can be linked and how they can be re-connected to the official political processes within the European institutions.

Publications

Publications

  • Aichholzer, G., Strauß, S., & Gudowsky, N. (2016). Electronic Participation in Europe. In R. Lindner, Aichholzer, G., & Hennen, L. (Eds.) (pp. 55-132). Cham/Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London: Springer.
  • Lindner, R., Aichholzer, G., & Hennen, L. (2016). Electronic Democracy in Europe: An Introduction. In R. Lindner, Aichholzer, G., & Hennen, L. (Eds.) (pp. 1-17). Cham/Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London: Springer.
  • Lindner, R., Aichholzer, G., Beckert, B., Goos, K., Strauß, S., & Hennen, L. (2016). Outlook: The Way Forward for European E-Democracy. In R. Lindner, Aichholzer, G., & Hennen, L. (Eds.) (pp. 185-195). Cham/Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London: Springer.
  • Lindner, R., Aichholzer, G., & Hennen, L. (Eds.). (2016). Electronic Democracy in Europe. Prospects and Challenges of E-Publics, E-Participation and E-Voting (p. 195). Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London: Springer.
  • Lindner, R., Beckert, B., Aichholzer, G., Strauß, S., & Hennen, L. (2011). E-public, e-participation and e-voting in Europe – prospects and challenges. Final Report. Karlsruhe.
  • Strauß, S. (2011). E-Participation und Europäische Öffentlichkeit?. Ita-Newsletter, 15 f.Retrieved from http://epub.oeaw.ac.at/ita/ita-newsletter/NL0611.pdf#15
  • Hennen, L., Aichholzer, G., & Strauß, S. (2011). Can political communication via the Internet and e-participation contribute to the emergence of a European public sphere? Background Paper for the STOA Workshop on 26/05/11.
  • Parycek, P., Schoßböck, J., & (Redaktion: Aichholzer, G. ). (2011). Transparency for Common Good – offener Zugang zu Information im Kontext gesellschaftlicher und strategischer Spannungsfelder. doi:10.1553/ITA-ms-11-01
  • Lindner, R., Beckert, B., Aichholzer, G., Strauß, S., & Hennen, L. (2010). E-Democracy in Europe – Prospects of Internet-based political participation (Theoretical framework and overview: in-depth examination of three selected areas – Phase II). Karlsruhe.
  • Lindner, R., Beckert, B., Aichholzer, G., Strauß, S., & Hennen, L. (2010). E-Democracy in Europe – Prospects of Internet-based political participation (Interim Report – Phase I). Karlsruhe.
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Conference Papers/Speeches

Conference Papers/Speeches

  • 26/05/2011 , Brüssel/Europ. Parlament
    Georg Aichholzer: 
    Can political communication via the Internet and e-participation contribute to the emergence of a European public sphere? (Workshop Introduction)
    STOA WS "eParticipation"
  • 23/09/2010 , Wien
    Georg Aichholzer: 
    Anmerkungen zur Onlinevariante der Europäischen Bürgerinitiative
    Roundtable Europäische Bürgerinitiative: Rechtsetzung durch europäische Zivilgesellschaft?
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Duration

03/2010 - 09/2011

Contact

  • Georg Aichholzer