Participative local democracy: Possibilities with new technologies
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Like this? Share it with your network

Share

Participative local democracy: Possibilities with new technologies

  • 616 views
Uploaded on

In this report I examine the possibilities t offered by new technologies, such as the Internet, informatics devices and telecommunications, to improve legitimacy. I will be focusing specially in......

In this report I examine the possibilities t offered by new technologies, such as the Internet, informatics devices and telecommunications, to improve legitimacy. I will be focusing specially in local institutions, like the city council of Illescas. Due this space allows implementing these tools faster with less cost and risk. From this point, I distinguish four fields in which new technologies may be used in order to reach a remarkable political participation: 1) elections, 2) referendums, 3) transparency, and 4) legislative initiative. However, before assessing the possibilities of new technologies in the field of local democracy; I determine the requirements to succeed in our idea.

  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
No Downloads

Views

Total Views
616
On Slideshare
616
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0

Actions

Shares
Downloads
1
Comments
0
Likes
2

Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
    No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. In this report I examine the possibilities t offered by new technologies, such as the Internet, informatics devices and telecommunications, to improve legitimacy. I will be focusing specially in local institutions, like the city council of Illescas. Due this space allows implementing these tools faster with less cost and risk. From this point, I distinguish four fields in which new technologies may be used in order to reach a remarkable political participation: 1) elections, 2) referendums, 3) transparency, and 4) legislative initiative. However, before assessing the possibilities of new technologies in the field of local democracy; I determine the requirements to succeed in our idea. Keywords: e-democracy, legitimation, political participation, e-transparency, new technologies, Illescas, new institutionalism, Spain, O-Government Participative local democracy: Possibilities with new technologiesDaniel de GraciaEmail: daniillescas9@hotmail.comLinkedIn:es.linkedin.com/in/danielgraciaTwitter: @ChaniwaldoE-magazine: scoop.it/t/making-democracy-more-participative Report prepared for
  • 2. Daniel de Gracia Palomera ID: 100275195Universidad Carlos III de Madrid e-mail: 100275195@alumnos.uc3m.esComparative Politics 2012/2013 30/11/2012 Group 88 Lack of legitimacy One of the effects of globalization is the spread of the democratic system all over the world. However, since developing countries such as the East Asian ones are democratizing themselves, western developed nations, where there are stables and effective democracies, are experimenting a lack of legitimation. We define legitimacy as typical motivations for obedience to authority (Giner, Lamo and Torres, 2006). The reasons of it are explained, for example, by Habermas or Castells: According to Jürgen Habermas, current liberal democracies are absence of legitimation since their actions and decisions are only focus on socialize production (through professional education, health systems and social protection) for non-socialize profit (just for some elites). In other words, democracies nowadays are based on elites’ values and interests while the rest of society is left apart and react with low political participation (Habermas, 1973). Sociologist Manuel Castells, say that the combination of financial crisis and low level of trust in politicians and political parties, open a period of uncertainty in the lives of people that can´t be solved by the democratic States. Furthermore, Castells add to his analysis a proposal to solve it: digital social networks offer the possibility for largely and better deliberation and coordination of actions and decisions (Castells, 2012). Proposal In order to solve that lack of legitimacy of western democracies and so in Illescas, we follow Castells’ suggestion of using digital ways for deliberation and the sociological and normative institutionalism approach. According to that, if political and social institutions implement the use of the Internet and other new technologies in policy making process and decision, people may be more motivated to participate. This increasing political participation, at the same time, could modify the values and role of political institutions, from institutions serving elites to institutions serving everyone; from political institutions where only a few representatives identify problems and make decisions, to political institutions where everybody may do it. Although this proposal could be applicable to all institutions in the future, it is desirable to focus only in local political institutions for pragmatic and experimental reasons. Now, we can assess the possibilities offered by those new technologies (such as the Internet, mobile devices, telecommunications software, etc.) in the four main fields of a participative democracy: 1) elections, 2) referendums, 3) transparency, and 4) legislative initiative. Elections: as Abott Siéyes said in XVIII century, the complexity of politics and economy don’t allow the existence of a pure democracy (like in Greece, Rome or Renaissance Italian Republics where every citizen could decide). Instead of that, the specialization of economy only enables the option of a representative democracy (Manin, 1995). Given the even more complexity of the system nowadays, it is also necessary the existence of professional representatives. To choose those representatives is what elections do. But recent polls show us that the participation in western democracies elections is decreasing (Castells, 2012) The Internet and informatics devices could make local electoral participation to increase, making it easier. For example it could help people to vote in rainy days without the necessity of going out; or it would allow voting easier for people with disability or people who are not in town the Election Day. Critics say that this option introduces a large bias because not everybody has access to the Internet and informatics devices and that participation wouldn’t increase because precisely those who have that access are the ones who vote almost always. And they are right. 1
  • 3. Daniel de Gracia Palomera ID: 100275195Universidad Carlos III de Madrid e-mail: 100275195@alumnos.uc3m.esComparative Politics 2012/2013 30/11/2012 Group 88 Our proposal requires, in order solving those criticisms, the access to Internet become a constitutional right and the infrastructure is given free to people by the State. Of course, it has to be secure. A cheap and good option for Municipalities would be to copy The Selectio Helvetica (SH) project, a Swiss software/protocol that allows identifying and voting in elections and referendums through the Internet in a safe (free of falsification), private and easy way. Referendums: referendum is defined as process in which people can decide about some issues and laws. One particular type of referendum with good results is “participative budgets”, where people decide about the destination of one part of the budget. Referendums are popular in some democracies, but are forgotten in other ones. Some politicians argue that the participation is/would-be very low, so it has no sense. From our point of view, referendums are not the problem. The obstacle to participation is the procedure of those referendums. If local institutions would change its design and the referendums, by implementing new technologies, people would change its political culture and would be more interesting in political participation. Like in elections, our proposal is to start doing those referendums in local institutions -as people can get more motivated in local issues and the economic cost is lower- through the Internet and using SH. Again, Internet access would have to be guaranteed by the local government. But that’s not enough. The people, in order to participate, need to know all the options the question and their possible consequences. In short, they need political transparency. Transparency: as we have said, political info is necessary to get successful referendums. But there is more. Transparency is also important due to it allows exercising accountability (a quality for good democracy). Transparency is even more important in small municipalities, where media doesn’t interfere and people sometimes don’t know anything about their city council and politicians. Our proposal for transparency is based on the works of Veljković, Bogdanović-Dinić, and Stoimenov, whose study suggests that most municipalities in European Union can get high democratic performance, with low economic cost and infrastructure (a simple computer, a free software and a person), by showing local data bases through the Internet about following issues: Finance and Economy (government budget, annual budget plan, income, expenditures, donations, scholarship funds, taxes and revenue, poverty, wealth, investments) Environment (meteorological data, pollution, emissions) Health (social care, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies) Energy (energy consumption, energy savings, monthly energy prices) Education (schools, faculties, students, universities, private schools, exchange programs) Employment (percentage of employed/unemployed citizens, tracks of open positions in enterprises and firms) Transportation (roads, maps, streets, public transport advisories, schedules) Infrastructure (plans, roads, maps, streets, building sights, permits) Population (births, deaths, marriages, divorces). This is the most accessible proposal to the city of Illescas due to its low cost. Legislative initiative and responsiveness: Some political institutions don’t have enough mechanisms to know what the necessities and desires of the people are, so they don’t act in response. In other words, political institutions don’t exercise responsiveness (another quality for good democracies). They don’t act following the bottom-up model, but top-down one mostly. From our point of view, the Internet opens a possibility for those institutions to give political and legal response to the people. One good example that local institutions as Illescas could easily follow is IREKIA (http://www.irekia.euskadi.net/es), an initiative of Basque’s government. In IREKIA people can make proposals and ask, to a concrete politician, something they want to know. Although these kinds of platforms are a step, nothing promises that politicians have in count people’s proposals. 2
  • 4. Daniel de Gracia Palomera ID: 100275195Universidad Carlos III de Madrid e-mail: 100275195@alumnos.uc3m.esComparative Politics 2012/2013 30/11/2012 Group 88 To remedy this lack of responsiveness, Alina Ostling suggest the creation of portals where people can make proposals of legislatives initiatives and -this is the key- to sign those proposals digitally with electronic identifications. Once one proposal surpasses the required legal number of (digital or not) signs, it would enter into political institutions for its debate or it would pass directly to constitute a political referendum. According to her, some municipalities like Brighton (UK) and Malmö (Sweden) have tried similar systems with high acceptance. Conclusions As we have showed, local democratic performance may improve in Illescas by adapting municipal institutions and their procedures to the new technologies. The actuation in those four fields for a local participative democracy would modify people’s political behavior and would increase participation. The result would be the solution of the current lack of legitimacy and a better accountability, responsiveness and equality in this city; qualities that most political scientists identify with a better democracy. However, we have also shown that in most cases the use of those new tools may introduces bias. Barber identifies three aspects of the Internet that may cause some troubles for our proposal: its limited access, its privacy and its oligopoly control (Barber, 2006). To address those biases and validate our idea of making a participative democracy by changing political institutions with those technologies, Barber recommends: 1) to freely provide people of the necessary devices (computers, Internet connection, e-identifications and e- identifications readers); and 2) to create safety protocols and software to assurance privacy-voting and free- fixing results (like SH). As we think, once we overcome these obstacles and institutions adapt to new-tech, people would be highly motivated to participate and get a well legitimated and participative local democracy The government of Illescas has always showed its interest in democratic performance. Furthermore, the good economic situation of this city council makes possible to follow all recommendations Barber suggests. However, if you the governors don’t want to make an extraordinary spend, some proposals, like the ones referred to local transparency or participative budgets, may be adopted with almost no cost and they could easily suppose better and larger citizen participation in your local community. References BARBER, Benjamin (2006): ¿Hasta qué punto son democráticas las nuevas tecnologías de telecomunicación? In: Revista de Internet, Derecho y Política Nº 3. Barcelona, U. Oberta de Catalunya. CASTELLS, Manuel (2012): Speech at the Holberg Prize award ceremony 2012. On-line: www.holbergprisen.no/en/manuel-castells/manuel-castells-speech-holberg-prize-award-ceremony-2012.html [consulted 28/11/2012] GINER, LAMO ESPINOSA and TORRES (2006): Diccionario de Sociología. Madrid, Alianza. HABERMAS, Jürgen (1973): Problemas de legitimación en el capitalismo tardío. Madrid, Cátedra. MANIN, Bernard (1995): La democracia de los modernos. Los principios del gobierno representativo. Chicago, Universidad de Chicago. OSTLING, A. (2011): How democratic is e-participation? A comparison between e-Petition and e-Parliament cases in four European countries In: Proceedings of the International Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government. Krems an der Donau, Edition Donau-Universität Krems. VELJKOVIĆ, N., BOGDANOVIĆ S. and STOIMENOV L. (2011): Municipal Open Data Catalogues. In: Proceedings of the International Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government. Krems an der Donau, Edition Donau-Universität Krems. 3