New Information and Communications technologies are showing great potential to redefine our democracies.
Technology, for instance, is allowing representatives and administrators to improve the right to vote on legislations (electronically, online, or among other digital forms), and citizens to author new legislation and/or recall representatives.
There is no doubt the way citizens perceived democratic engagement is changing. Local examples of voting technologies successfully deployed for increasing democratic participation are particularly prolific in, but not limited to, Western Europe and North America.
- Switzerland, for example, is a direct democracy, where local people can influence the activities of government through initiatives and referendums. Swiss citizens can bring their opinions to bear at federal, cantonal and communal levels.
- The case of the Demoex platform in Sweden in 2000, it is another case in point. Educators and students created an experiment of mix direct– and representative democracy to let citizens in Stockholm comment and vote on local issues. They then created the Demoex party, which won seats on the city council based on decisions from the majority of the online platform.
- In Chile, the commune of Maipu in Santiago launched in 2015 a participatory budgeting project to empower local citizens. “Tu barrio gana” project intended to make residents part of the resource allocation process. Maipu citizens 14 years of age and older were eligible to directly vote in a multi-channel platform.
- Democracy Earthalso illustrate another effort to building a liquid democracy platform. They envision “a global democracy powered by blockchain, rather than governance by individual countries. Technology would securely manage identity, voting, and representation, replacing passports and traditional elections, and allowing people to make decisions globally.”
Countries such as Australia, Scotland, Germany or the UK have already adopted electronic petitioning systems to amplify the voice of citizens and press government for action. In the UK, gathering 100,000 signatures can now initiate a Parliamentary debate. As authentication technologies evolve, we are likely to see petitions move to a more direct form of democracy in which they become mandates.