E-participation in politics for active citizenship
To what extend can e-participation reduce the gap between citizens and politicians?
In the last years there has been a trend toward a more open and transparent administration. Many countries have issued new transparency regulations and many public authorities have tried to connect more directly with their citizens through e-participation tools and participatory processes to answer their need of a more effective communication.
On the other hand, digital platforms have been launched by civil society organisations to watch their parliament or city hall activities. Most of these experiences use cyberactivism against institutions.
Despite these attempts to reduce the distance between citizens and policy makers, citizens’ disaffection towards politicians and institutions has increased and it is even worse when it comes to young people involvement in policymaking process.
Young people would like to contribute and participate in policy issues, especially in those that concern them most, but they don’t find proper ways to interact with policy makers.
What if participatory e-tools were built with a different approach, based on the possibility to reach a win-win situation for both politicians and citizens?
“We all count Europe” project is designed to test an existing e-participation tool based on a different approach, where:
- participation is opposed to surveillance;
- the focus is on politicians instead of institutions;
- both policy makers and citizens can take advantage of the situation.
The e-participation tool tested within the project is an on-line platform called Kuorum.org and it is designed to improve communication between citizens and politicians; it is a social media where politicians open their political projects to debate and citizens can make proposal to improve them.
Kuorum.org, technological partner of the project, developed the e-tool in Spain in 2013 and the pilot of the project turned soon in a website widely used in this country to increase democracy. In Kuorum.org the contact with politicians is direct. Citizens are notified when there is an open debate about an issue that is interesting for them or that affects their local context, moreover they can make proposal to improve political projects.
The aim of the study is to test Kuorum.org in 5 European cities in Spain, Italy, Germany, Lithuania, and Austria to increase political participation and transfer the results to European policy development.
In these five local contexts project partners has started to apply a methodology that involve young citizens and politicians and that mixes on-line and off-line activities. The activities consist of training with local policy makers and training with young citizens plus a joint event that involves both target groups to discuss about democracy, e-participation, social inclusion, rules of debate. The methodology proposed wants to overcome a limit of e-participation, which is the lack of off-line experience. For this reason, the training programmes are developed to strengthen engagement by enabling offline experience for the potential users.
To sum up, objectives of the experiment are:
- Evaluating the effects of the training on citizen’s political attitude, in particular political efficacy, while paying special attention to young people and social sector in risk of exclusion.
- Identify strategy for scaling up the efficient handling of multiple inputs in e-participation.
The academic partner is responsible to conduct a survey in each city involved in the experimentation and analyse data of participation in the tool. The results will be used to suggest how to improve e-participation and training programmes in view of the second year of the experience. Finally, at the end of the second year of experimentation, end of 2017, the final conclusions will be presented to the public.
- To increase political efficacy in local communities by providing training to decision makers on how to foster participation and dealing with the risks of open online discussion, and to young people – with special focus on young people in risk of exclusion – on how to participate in the democratic life of their cities
- To Stimulating active participation of young people in democratic life
- Teaching young people to participate in democratic life while trying to reduce the digital divide and scaling up the efficient handling of multiple inputs in e-participation tools
- Creation of e-participation tool as a base for the experience but physical events will be equally important
- Reaching the policy level/dialogue with decision makers via the e-participation tool
- e-participation tool (reaching the policy level/dialogue with decision makers)
- Data collection of the online participation and representative surveys to evaluate the effects of training on citizen’s political attitude
- Recommendations of the academic partner to be implemented and tested back
- Coordinator: Chair of Political Methodology, University of Konstanz (Germany)
- Kuorum Social S.L. (Spain)
- Verein Multikulturell (Austria)
- Socialiniu inovaciju fondas (Lithuania)