The importance of eDemocracy experiments * The picture in the PC, depicts the “ostrakon”: The fragment of a clay pot, used instead of ballot paper in the ancient Athenian Democracy
“A 21st century organization for e-democracy” The access2democracy non-profit N.G.O. was established in Athens and New York by a group of prominent, like-minded world citizens, and aims to become a leading international organization in the field of e-democracy. Our Mission access2democracy aims to promote the principles and practice of participatory e-democracy within the global arena. Hence we aim to enhance democratic values and institutions and citizens’ access to decision-making processes. Our Honorary Board Maria Livanos-Cattaui: SG, International Chamber of Commerce Lawrence Lessig: Prof of Law at Stanford Law School, Chair Creative Commons Kumi Naidoo: SG & CEO of CIVICUS Nicholas Negroponte: MIT Media Lab George A. Papandreou: Leader of the Opposition, Greece - former MFA Bill Richardson: Governor of New Mexico US, former U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Amartya Sen: Nobel Laureate, Lamont Univ. Prof. Emeritus at Harvard More about us at : www.access2democracy.org
What is the situation Today: Citizens indifference, disengagement, mistrust - a strong feeling of being «left-out»: Increasing abstention of citizens from the political process, giving away even their dominant democratic right: voting in elections / CoE Green Paper: Projection 2020: abstention 65% in W.Europe Democratic deficit even in “established” democracies Governments need to find a way to engage the citizen Globalization: Increasing number of issues becoming of global nature and cannot be dealt with effectively at the level of National governments Global governance institutions not adapted to their new role and are not accountable to citizens affected by their policies – Major ongoing Reforms Why eDemocracy? Global problems need Global solutions to formulate Global policies and take Global action
The Role of eDemocracy: Communication has always been a prerequisite for Democracy, and ICTs can offer new modes of communication collaboration and exchange across the globe eDemocracy builds on the potential of ICTs to: Promote the emergence of a participatory and deliberative democracy that will bridge the gap between policy makers and citizens providing the first with support and legitimacy and the second with transparent access to information and participation to the policy making processes be it at a local, national or global level. Why eDemocracy?
It is usually identified to websites with online forums, eVotes, eConsultations etc. But… eDemocracy is more about democracy than technology Promote active citizenship and participation in policy formation through Deliberation. Not just participation in elections every 4 or so years. About the creation of a “culture of Democracy” where citizens will be participants and not passive recipients of policy. Deploying ICTs is not enough Like in every other sector (eBusiness, eGovernment etc), ICTs must be integrated through structural transformations to make any difference. ICT ‘Layer’ over a bureaucratic administration more bureaucratic ICT ‘Layer’ in a badly managed company bad Mgt. more prominent. The multiplier effect of ICTs applies for eDemocracy as well eDemocracy is not Just about eVote or the creation of a “push button” democracy “yet another” eGovernment service A ready made solution to tackle the democratic deficit What eDemocracy is … and what it is not!
Online Global Poll on Environment At the occasion of the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development (UN Earth Summit), September 2002 The First Online Global Poll on the Environment and Sustainable Development issues • The First ever large scale global eDemocracy project, under the auspices of a Global Governance Institution – the UN: 25000 participants Aug.19 - Sept.13, 2002
Lessons Learned • The Digital Divide is a serious barrier to such initiatives • Not scientific but ‘indicative”: Results consistent with traditional polls The People and Policy makers are ready to embrace such initiatives There is a real potential for Agenda setting in Global Issues Forums from Citizens, through eDemocracy Platforms • Mandela – “This Online Global Poll is a breakthrough in beginning to measure and understand this global opinion about important issues. The world is indeed changing, and this bold idea will be an important part of this new world.” • Blair – “The digital age will give birth to new forms of democracy and this Online Global Poll is an important step in this new process.”
e-Vote: Vote for the EU YOU Want • At the occasion of the Greek Presidency of the European Union in 2003 – Initiative of MFA • The most successful eDemocracy experiment to date : over 175000 participants • The first large scale eDemocracy experiment initiated by policy makers and linked to the decision making bodies
Best Practice • Awareness • Pan-European media partnership and civil society outreach programme • raise awareness /participation: 500+ EU and national NGOs, schools, Univ., trade associations, think tanks, political parties, interest groups, and local/regional/national governments contacted to drive public participation. e-Vote has attracted extensive media coverage around the world • Conceptualization • e-Vote: raised Crucial (even sensitive) political issues : The EU's Role in the World and Relations with US, The Lisbon Agenda, EU Enlargement, Environment, Immigration, EU Constitution - Future of the EU, Iraq Crisis etc. • e-Voice: views and questionsto EU leaders on the current and future EU • Participants could instantly compare ideas and opinions with all other e-voters • Political Commitment • e-Votes and e-Voices were incorporated directly in Greek Presidency activities reported to the council and were debated at the highest EU political level : • the European Summit
It is possible through eDemocracy to enrich and reinvigorate democratic dialogue between Policy makers and Citizens, encouraging a greater sense citizenship making citizens feel better represented and closer to politics and institutions. Crucial to the success of eDemocracy initiatives is: Political commitment and good outreach plan for maximum public involvement, as well as a sound technological/conceptual platform Importance of tackling the digital divide, to include those without access to technology residing in rural or peripheral areas, as well as the disadvantaged people Lessons Learned The massive participation demonstrated that European citizens are eager to participate in the policy formation process and are willing to adopt eDemocracy
The first eDemocracy experiment initiated by a political party in Greece launched At the occasion of Greek national elections: 03/2004 building on the “eVote” experience, it opens up party structure and programme to all, through a full spectrum online dialogue, Over 12000 participants Inaugurates a new era in the way Greek political parties engage in open and public political dialogue with the citizen e-dialogue “Here, your voice counts”
Parties, being the most important policy formulation institutions can lead the way in becoming the most important policy deliberation and dialogue Institutions. The low level of partisanship and citizen disillusionment faced by many parties could be tackled by opening up a full spectrum dialogue with the citizen on the issues that concern him, engaging him in policy formulation. Citizens are willing to adopt eDemocracy platforms to become engaged in party politics and participate in a deliberative process. Lessons Learned
The first eDemocracy experiment in Deep Rooted Conflict Areas Bi-communal project funded by UNDP and USAID Create neutral and effective channels of communication and promote reconciliation between the two communities through an open dialogue on vital issues of mutual interest to Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots e-Voices Cyprus: Lets Talk
Legitimacy:Without political backing and active involvement of policy makers any eDemocracy project loses its potential impact towards greater citizen engagement. In deep rooted conflicts, citizens are not geared towards dialogue with the “other”. No eDemocracy platform alone is going to change that. It is a matter of offline reconciliation work backed by the policy makers and important “trusted” personalities and institutions. The social economic cultural and political environment are crucial to the acceptance of such initiatives Sources of funding might create suspicion and apriori rejection of the initiative by the citizens. (Given that 76% of Greek Cypriots voted against the UN-Annan Plan, a UN funded project was perceived as promoting the plan regardless of its real objectives) Lessons Learned
a2d Projects …in the pipeline
Deployment of ICTs for the Networking and Capacity Building of NGOs Active against Human Trafficking in the Balkan Area.
NGO Capacity building through Collaborative Tools and Training: Sharing and pooling of information and resources – HT infobase, Facilitate transnational coordination of activities among NGOs, transfer of international best practice and expertise to local NGOs through Expert exchange online forums and training Deliberation platforms Inter-NGO : articulation of commonly agreed strategies and priorities NGOs - Policy Makers - victims: set Policy priorities and coordinate action Direct Linkage to Policy making Views and priorities emerging from the deliberation, directly submitted to National and EU Parliaments Creation of an easily adaptable Universal Platform for Civil Society Collaboration and Participation in the Policy formation process, Replicable to all issues and activity types, fully scalable to cover large networks expanding over large geographical areas. Project Planned : Create a European Network of NGOs & CSOs on Environment, linked to European Policy making Institutions Innovative Aspects
►Legitimacy: eDemocracy must be backed by Government/Institutions and integrated in its policy making process to have any effect. ► Citizens are eager to participate in the policy formation process and are willing to adopt eDemocracy ► The adoption of ICTs to “enhance” democracy must be backed with increased accountability, transparency, security, privacy, democratic control mechanisms etc ► Adequate resources & access to expertise is paramount: Human, Financial, Technological ► The sole introduction of ICTs does not automatically make things better. eDemocracy is not a technological platform ► eDemocracy does not compete or substitute traditional institutions. It builds on them. ► eDemocracy can become the canvass of a democratic global governance, but only if accessible to all E-Democracy experimentsMajor Lessons Learned
Badly implemented, eDemocracy, can be used as an excuse to enforce bad policy on the grounds of being inline with the “eVoices” of the people. eDemocracy without accountability and transparent democratic control mechanisms can pose a real threat to privacy Even though eDemocracy is in its infancy, malpractice has already shown up with “eDemocracy” sites “facilitating” citizen access to policy making, for money. Citizens are already disillusioned with politics. Making fun of them through badly implemented and dishonest eDemocracy projects will make them completely disillusioned and eventually angry. Dangers of eDemocracy
eDemocracy should not be exclusively bonded with the PC and the Internet : necessary penetration of these to deliver real eDemocracy for all citizens, might never come(!) We have to keep looking at highest penetration mediums and potential future convergence of technologies. eDemocracy is still in its Infancy : real experiments are crucial for the development of good practice early-on Collaboration, exchange and pooling of Information and resources needed at a Global scale, to deliver transferable good practice and learn from others mistakes The Way Forward
Tell me and I’ll forget Show me and I’ll remember Involve me and I’ll understand (Old Chinese proverb)
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