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eDemocracy Workshop: The role of the digital citizen in the 21st century democracy
September 4, 2020 @ 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
The information and communication technologies (ICTs) have touched upon practically every sphere of public life. On a daily basis, people are a part of complex, inclusive communication and decision-making processes related to both their personal and professional lives. The process of public governance and democracy-making, however, has been barely touched by this trend and is still referred to by politicians as an every four years recurring process. At the same time, democracies all across Europe face difficult times and citizen’s rejection due to self-centricity of governance.
Digital tools do have the potential to bring a positive change by enabling greater public participation and engagement. Harnessing the power of the informal tools for public digital participation and channelling it for greater engagement and mobilisation for the achievement of political results (responsive, inclusive, transparent, and accountable governance) might be the key imperative for the well-working and enjoyed 21st century democracy.
This first of a series of four workshops aims to provide an introduction into the topic of digital citizenship, online participation, and government scrutiny. Participants are supposed to provide and to get an overview of the state of play and the theoretic background of the topic(s). The input of an expert speaker will provide a theoretical and conceptual ground for the discussion amongst participants.
Questions raised: How do ICT’s alter people’s self-perception of their societal role? To what extent can digital tools and eParticipation overcome the democratic deficit across Europe? How can we harness the potential of ICTs to achieve a more responsive, inclusive, transparent, and accountable governance and policy-making? Could informal tools for digital participation be seen as an alternative, rather than a supplement to the existing formal state-led eDemocracy tools?
FRIDAY, 4 September 2020 – 10.30h CET
10.30 – 10.40 Technical and topical introduction by the moderator
10.40 – 10.50 Opening remarks
Daniel Kaddik, Executive Director, European Liberal Forum
Ivaylo Tsonev, Project coordinator, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
10.50 – 11.10 Theories and concepts on digital citizen-driven participation tools
Petar Markovic, Citizens’ Rights Training Coordinator, ECAS
11.10 – 12.20 Open discussion
How can we harness the potential of ICTs to achieve a more responsive, inclusive, transparent, and accountable governance and policy-making?
12.20 – 12.30 Closing remarks
Moderation: Assya Kavrakova, Executive Director, ECAS
*Please note that participation in this workshop is by invitation only!
This workshop is organised in the framework of the ‘eDemocracy: Driving citizen advocacy through digital means’ project.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Since governments across Europe are still very cautious towards enabling state-led eDemocracy initiatives for citizen involvement in policy-making, the project will research, collect, assess, and present the ever-growing number of innovative good practices for citizen’s-led, informal participation and governance scrutiny through digital means.
Rationale of the project
Digital tools allow for an unprecedented inclusion of citizens in all areas of public action, with the potential to improve the quality of democracy and governance through greater participation and citizen-centric policy-making. Governments, however, have taken radically different approaches across Europe, either facilitating or hindering eDemocracy. The 2017 ELF project “Digitalising Democracy: eParticipation” revealed that the eTools for formal participation such as eConsultations, eReferenda and ePetitions have been used with very limited scope, generally not meeting the public’s expectations for a true civic input. Citizens and civic groups see their role as true contributors, rather than just addressees of state policies, and are increasingly using online tools for informal participation and governance scrutiny. Various platforms put pressure on decision-makers through requiring increased transparency and accountability. Such instruments empower citizens to take democratic action, enable them to participate, and gradually raise political acceptance of the eDemocracy itself.
Building on the knowledge of the various forms of online participation (see former ELF project on eDemocracy) this project aims to exchange and evaluate good practices for informal citizen eParticipation on local and national level across Europe. The ELF member organisations and third parties are expected to have shared knowledge to foster civic engagement and facilitate a true civic impact on the political decision-making through digital tools, ultimately leading to a more citizen’s centric democracy, and a more transparent and accountable governance.