Monday, June 24, 2024

Europe-wide Study: Digital Technologies Become a Strong Factor in Democracy

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  • The market for online participation and deliberation in Europe is expected to grow to 300 Million Euros in the next five years, and the market for e-voting to 500 Million Euros.

  • The study suggests the development of Europe-wide quality standards for security and processes, as new forms of participatory and deliberative democracy are widely applied in many European countries.

  • National agencies for online participation should be established to support local governments and ensure consistent quality for this new democratic infrastructure.

Digital technologies present a strong opportunity for governments in Europe to better engage with citizens. But lack of funding, security and quality standards are slowing down the development of new forms of democratic processes, according to a new report published jointly by The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and The Innovation in Politics Institute.

Demand for participatory and deliberative forms of democracy is growing rapidly in Europe, as local and regional governments seek ways to include more citizens in policy making. To handle the input of large numbers of people, technology applications for online participation, deliberation and e-voting developed by private companies, non-profit organisations and governments have been introduced in recent years. 

The new study investigated the growing market of democracy technologies by interviewing practitioners in governments, experts and company representatives across Europe. 

Key findings are:

  • There are currently more than 100 vendors in Europe in the online participation, deliberation and voting sector. The vast majority of the industry representatives reported a strong increase in demand for their services.
  • The market for online participation and deliberation in Europe is expected to grow to 300 Million Euros in the next five years, and the market for e-voting is expected to grow to 500 Million Euros. There is a window of opportunity for European providers of democracy technologies to expand beyond Europe, as their products and services have been positively received in other regions of the world.
  • Balancing ease of access and secure authentication of citizens remains an area where further development is required, and represents a potential risk of democracy technologies. In many participatory budgets, people can propose projects and vote on a city’s budget even though they are not eligible residents. Also, as end-to-end verifiable systems are becoming available for online voting, vendors believe that security standards are required for end-to-end verifiable voting. 
  • The findings of the study suggest that the introduction of a Europe-wide quality trust mark for core processes of democracy technologies would be welcomed in the political sphere. It would contribute to the growth of citizen participation by increasing confidence among users and buyers of such technologies.
  • Also, in some countries, the legal framework for participatory and deliberative democracy and online voting is lagging behind the situation on the ground, especially regarding inclusiveness, data usage, accountability and transparency.
  • The report suggests that national agencies for online participation and voting should be established to address local governments’ needs and ensure consistent quality in participation processes. These agencies should provide know-how and offer local governments advice on security-checked tools, as well as developing recommendations for lawmakers and evaluating the impact of participatory processes.

Democracy is constantly evolving. I was a co-chair of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Its launch coincided with a pandemic. The online multilingual digital platform was no longer just a tool to support the deliberative process. It became vital to ensure that citizens could connect, contribute and participate in their democracy.”
Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy & Demography 

Digital tools and the Internet are and will remain a key infrastructure for democracy. Leveraging these capabilities will be key to making democracy fit for purpose in the 21st century and beyond. Citizens expect and deserve nothing less. 
Kevin Casas-Zamora, International IDEA Secretary-General 

The growing market of democracy technologies should be supported by governments across Europe, as it brings new forms of democratic practice and is strengthening trust in democracy. But we also need Europe-wide quality standards, so that citizens can rely on this new democratic infrastructure.

Edward Strasser, CEO and co-founder of the Innovation in Politics Institute

 

Download the full report here: https://www.idea.int/publications/catalogue/democracy-technologies-in-europe

 

Contact Information:

Alistair Scrutton, Head of Communications and Knowledge Management , International IDEA
a.scrutton@idea.int  Tel: 00 46 707 211098

Denica Yotova, Press contact, The Innovation in Politics Institute

dy@innovationinpolitics.eu  Tel: 00 49 176 4572 3983

 

International IDEA
More information about the intergovernmental organisation International IDEA can be viewed here
The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organisation with 34 Member States with the sole mandate to support and advance democracy worldwide. International IDEA contributes to the public debate on democracy and assists in strengthening process, reforms, institutions and actors that build, advance and safeguard democracy, with a focus on electoral processes, constitution-building, democracy assessment, and political participation and representation. Mainstreamed across all of our work is gender and inclusion, conflict sensitivity and sustainable development.
International IDEA is one of the most trusted global sources of data and analysis on the health of democracy around the world.
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The Innovation in Politics Institute
The Innovation in Politics Institute is a mission-driven company based in Vienna and Berlin, and with representation in 15 European countries. It identifies, develops, and applies innovations in politics, and facilitates the exchange of best practices across borders. 
With the annual Innovation in Politics Awards, it has collected one of the largest databases of innovative policies in Europe. Over 2,500 projects have taken part in the competition so far, and more than 500 winners and finalists have been selected by a Citizens’ Jury in which over 5,000 citizens have participated. 
The Institute launched the online magazine Democracy Technologies to provide people working in politics and the industry with in-depth information about new developments and technologies in the field of digital participation and deliberation, electronic voting, and other digital tools that improve political organisations.
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