Transforming Government through e-Participation: challenges for e-Democracy.

Peter Millard, Kate Millard, Carl Adams, Stuart McMillan

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This paper argues that e-Government holds much potential for transforming government activity, and, in respect to representative government specifically, it focuses upon the development of e-Participation and e-Democracy to enhance the responsiveness of the relationship between government and the governed. Recent upheavals across the Middle East - the 'Arab Spring' - have highlighted the importance of not only the citizens' voice but also their involvement in the democratic process. Declining voter turnout and membership of mainstream political parties over the last 50 years have both been cited as being central to the ‘crisis in Western democracies’ which is argued to have resulted in disengaged and disenfranchised electorates. Previous work highlights significant disenfranchisement of citizens within the democratic processes. How responsive are citizens to the prospect of expressing their views to their elected representatives via e-Democratic means? The paper examines this question primarily by drawing upon the findings of a survey of citizens’ attitudes to actual and potential e-Democracy initiatives. The survey, which collected both quantitative and qualitative data, covered a number of themes including, disenfranchisement, e-Petitions, social media, single issues, influences upon elected representatives and the modernisation of current democratic processes. The results highlight both the extent to which citizens feel disenfranchised and the extent of an appetite for more transparent and empowering political processes via the use of e-Democratic tools. It is concluded that, in the light of scepticism, not only about traditional democratic systems, but also about the democratic credentials of current e-Participation tools such as e-Petitions, governments need to be more innovative in their facilitation of e-Democracy - by actually harnessing the flexibility of the Internet in a more creative manner; for instance by revisiting the design of the e-Petition. The paper concludes by probing the possibility that e-Democracy could facilitate the evolution of democracy into a more responsive system which actually improves on current systems rather than simply reproducing them in electronic form. Keywords: e-Participation, e-Democracy, e-Petitions, disenfranchisement; democratic processes
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Event12th European Conference on e-Government - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 14 Jun 201215 Jun 2012


Conference12th European Conference on e-Government
Abbreviated titleECEG 2012


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