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eDemocracy at local level The case of Trikala eDialogos project


Democratic deficit even in 'established' democracies ... e-Dialogos (2004) / open eVote for party EU-Parliament elections candidates (2004) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: eDemocracy at local level The case of Trikala eDialogos project

e-Democracy at local level The case of Trikala
e-Dialogos project
  • by Christoforos Korakas
  • ckorakas_at_access2democracy.org

Region of Thessaly
What is the situation Today ?
  • Democratic Deficit
  • Incapacity of Politicians to LISTEN and Discuss
    with Citizens / EU-Constitution
  • Citizens indifference, disengagement, mistrust -
    a strong feeling of being left-out
  • Consenting democracy, consumer citizen only in
    election day and even so ..
  • Increasing abstention of citizens from the
    political process, giving away even their
    dominant democratic right voting in elections /
    CoE Green Paper, Future of Democracy in Europe
    Projection 2020 abstention in national
    parliamentary elections could reach 65 in W.
  • Democratic deficit even in established
  • Governments and policy makers in search of a way
    to re-engage the citizen, to safeguard their own

Building Participatory Democracy
DEMOCRACYDemocratic / Participatory Governance
Elections / Accountability
Impact Assessment / Policy Checks
Participatory Policy Implementation
Participatory Decision on Policy
Participatory Policy formulation
Participatory Deliber./exchange of views
Access to Information / Transparency
Education / Formal Informal / Civic Edu
Eco/ Social Security Basic Human Needs
What is the situation Today?
What could ICTs offer
e-Democracy tools and apps, Is it enough?
Policy framework for a new era of Democracy
-OCRACY-cipatory Governance
Impact A
Active Citizen
Active Citizen
Active Citizen
Active Citizen
Active Citizen
Active Citizen
Informed Citizen
Access to Info
Education / Formal
Eco/ Social Security
So why eDemocracy?
  • Is e-Democracy the answer to all these?
  • No ! But it can help, not only reinvigorate the
    traditional democratic processes but it also
    allows to rethink them on the basis of the new
    possibilities offered, building on the democracy
  • 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.
  • eDemocracy does not compete or substitute
    traditional institutions and democratic
    processes. It builds on them.

What eDemocracy is and what it is not!
  • It is usually identified to websites with online
    forums, eVotes, eConsultations etc. But
  • eDemocracy is more about democracy than
  • Promote active citizenship and participation in
    policy formation through Deliberation. Not just
    participation in elections every 4 or so years.
  • eDemocracy as an education tool can help create
    a culture of democracy
  • Deploying ICTs is not enough
  • ICTs must be integrated in Democratic Practice
    through structural transformations and
    reengineering of the processes to make any
  • eDemocracy is not
  • About the creation of a push button democracy
  • yet another eGovernment service
  • A ready made solution to tackle the democratic

The situation in Greece
  • Interest Divide
  • Many people interested in Politics, but for
    their own reasons partitocracy, clientelism,
  • Strong Interlocking of political, media
    business powers
  • Very few opportunities of genuine citizen
    engagement in the policy formulation / making
    processes (Local, National), beyond election time
  • Digital Divide
  • Laggard in the EU27 25 Internet penetration, 7
    broadband, still too little Greek content / City
    Periphery divide / age divide
  • ICT is still a class taught in schools like
    Geography no Integration of ICTs in everyday
  • But 100 Mobile phone penetration / even though
    more expensive service than EU average
  • But Internet cafes are packed with kids playing
    online games
  • Athens is the largest WiFi community in the World
    Lack of core Infrastructure gt deployment of
    alternatives by citizens

The drivers for eDemocracy in Greece
  • Political Parties / George Papandreou as FM and
    PASOK president
  • eVote vote for the EU you want (2003)
  • e-Dialogos (2004) / open eVote for party
    EU-Parliament elections candidates (2004)
  • Local authorities/municipalities few enlightened
    Mayors (Maroussi, Trikala) in general limited
    awareness on ICT issues (let alone eDemocracy).
    KEDKE the Central Union of Municipalities and
    Communities of Greece, is working on that
  • Civil society very few edemocracy NGOs
  • Growing interest from other NGOS to explore the
    possibilities offered by e-Democracy
  • In general limited awareness on ICT issues (let
    alone eDemocracy)
  • University / Research Institutes Few disparate
    efforts no coordination
  • Aegean University (e-Vote IST project)
  • Research Academic Computer Technology Institute
    (CTI) PNYKA project / web based e-Vote systems
    / pilot in professional associations. / others???
  • Funding / Incentives No e-Democracy national
  • Ministry of Economy, very small of Information
    Society budget (2,8bn) suitable to eDemocracy
    related projects.
  • Small funds also available through Ministry of
    Pub. Admin / Ministry of Development GS for
    Research and Technology
  • Ear-marked EU funding for eParticipation
    increasing interest form municipalities

eDemocracy / eParticipation in Greece
  • Not a conducive environment
  • Strong barriers both Interest and Digital divide
  • Very few concrete experiments
  • Hesitation from policy makers to share powers
  • Civil society dormant and not ICT prone
  • But Very Challenging
  • Virgin territory everything still to be done
  • Learning from successes and failures of the
    eDemocracy front-runners from across the world,
    and work with them!
  • Little projects might lead to great results

e-Dialogos, Municipality of Trikala (GR)
  • A Local e-Democracy project implemented by the
    region of Thessaly, piloted in the Municipality
    of Trikala financed through the Politeia
    national programme of the Ministry of Public
    Administr. (135K)
  • The Objective Use of ICTs to enable citizens to
    actively participate in the policy formulation
    and decision making processes of the Municipality
  • Methodology developed by access2democracy
  • Technical deployment by IMC, a specialised IT
    company in knowledge and Information mgt.
  • Assisted by political market research co. Ventris

The approach
  • We are experimenting with a mixed approach, with
    parallel use of
  • Top down tools eSurveys
  • Bottom up ePetitions (Ann Macintosh, Tom
  • Collaborative approach between citizens and
    policy makers, with iterations of
  • Agenda Setting (online Questionnaires)
  • Online Deliberations / Dialogue (customized,
    moderated forums)
  • Online Voting (Online Questionnaires Surveys)
  • Interactive Municipal council meetings
  • We do not want scientific samples or citizen
    panels of just few dozen citizens
  • The objective is to involve a maximum number of
    citizens for them to discuss and understand the
    issues, and participate in the policy formulation
    and decision making processes.
  • Important education role of the process
    reinstate a culture of democracy and
  • Quality / Representativeness of results? We
    experiment with demographics and weighting to
    counterbalance the disadvantages of self selected
  • High Quality, multidimensional, independent,
    relevant and accessible to the citizen
    Information is an essential pillar of the
    eDemocracy process
  • Good Communication and Marketing plan

(No Transcript)
In short
A great opportunity
  • For the non interested youth, working citizens
    that do not have the time to participate,
    Citizens of the Municipality living in remote
    areas, other regions of Greece (e.g. Athens) or
    even abroad,
  • For all those that are left out or unable to
    engage in the traditional forms and structures
    of participation
  • Great opportunity for the Municipality to
    efficiently cooperate with citizens for the
    formulation and Implementation of policies and
  • Important requirement fighting the digital
  • Public Internet access points / free wireless
    Internet for all / basic ICT and Internet
    initiation for citizens
  • Rethink the interfaces Intuitive,
    straightforward, fun to use.

Supportive Actions
  • crucial in order to increase the efficiency of
    whole process
  • Timely advertisement and awareness raising
    activities on forthcoming discussions online and
    offline, using the main stream media, posters,
    leaflets etc to attract participation
  • Special measures to increase access to the
    processes by providing public access points and
  • Special attention to the Interface Design so that
    it is intuitive and easy to use to the average
  • Strong commitment from policy makers to seriously
    engage in the process
  • Definite decisions and outcomes at the end of the
    process to convince of the real usefulness of
    citizens participation
  • Training toolkits for Citizens, Municipality
    officials and Moderators.

Leadership matters
  • The municipality of Trikala offers one o the most
    fertile environments for such experiments
  • free Internet access for all (Municipal Wireless)
  • advanced strategy and wide array of ICT related
    projects and services for its constituents.
  • The ICT strategy and projects championed by the
    Mayor himself
  • has built a strong team around him dealing
    efficiently with ICT challenges and
    opportunities, utilizing to the maximum
    opportunities offered through Greek and EU
    funding programmes.
  • Trikala has the biggest list of EU-funded
    projects than any other municipality in the
    region and eventually Greece (if taken as a per
    capita income)
  • Trikala being recognized as the first digital
    city of Greece.
  • Mayor is also active in building partnerships
    with other mayors across the EU, participating as
    the first Greek city in the international network
    of e-communities (iNEC).
  • In that context we believe the project will stand
    out as a best practice for Greece, eventually
    convincing other municipalities to follow on the

Some of the eDemocracy challenges
  • Political
  • Virtualisation / e- or im- mobilisation? Beyond
    the visible effects of online / virtual networks
    in real life could we face the danger of
    creating an easy and comfortable virtual
    participation culture with no real impacts?
  • Is the politician ready
  • To listen?
  • To share his chair with the Citizen?
  • To be continuously accountable to him and checked
  • Does the Citizen care? Has the time to get
    involved? The education level?
  • Technical / Methodological
  • How do we match the need to involve as many as
    possible with the need of scientifically sound
    results self selected samples are they
    representative? / what is the right methodology?
  • How do we measure the impact of the mobilisation
    of social networks and web-mobs for or against
    some issue ?
  • Is there a way to extract the right conclusions
    on the position of citizens from full text
    opinions (forums, full text comments,
    questionnaires etc - Semantics) ?
  • Can we authenticate users of e-democracy tools
    without the loss of privacy and without making
    participation complicated?
  • Does the internet as we know it today, provides
    us with the right platform and tools for

Some of the Barriers to eDemocracy
  • Interest Divide active citizens (on/off line)
    only a minority of people
  • Many People just dont care about politics, local
    issues etc democratic deficit
  • How can we get them involved?
  • Civic engagement/education strategies, Local,
    National, EU level
  • Digital Divide can we get involved online those
    that do care ?
  • still too many on the other side of the fence
  • Those most interested in participating, less
    interested in ICTs (Age related)
  • ICTs and Interfaces still too complicated for
    average use / ICT Convergence
  • How many hours of training did your father get
    to use his mobile phone?(Tom Steinberg,
  • User friendly operating systems applications,
    intuitive, simple, straightforward
  • Provide free and easy access to networks and
  • If we achieve Critical mass of active citizens
    online, eParticipation, eDemocracy can have real

The Dangers of eDemocracy
  • Without the guarantee of Transparency, Security
    and the existence of open democratic control
    mechanisms of the processes, the e-democracy
    applications are suspect and could pose a real
    threat to participating citizens rights
    (political profiling)
  • Intern-auts and Inter-nots Without the guarantee
    of access for all, e-democracy applications can
    further deepen along with the digital divide, the
    political divide, among citizens and between
    regions. More 2nd Class Citizens ? / Era of
  • Badly implemented e-democracy applications can be
    used as an excuse and alibi for the
    implementation of bad policy or for legitimating
    politicians, in the name of the democratically
    expressed voice of the people!
  • Citizens are already disappointed by politicians.
    Fake e-Democracy applications (ab-)used to
    legitimise policies, will just make citizens more
    disappointed or angry.
  • Even though eDemocracy is in its infancy,
    malpractice has already shown up with
    eDemocracy sites facilitating citizen access
    to policy making, for money

The lessons learned
  • Engage the Citizen
  • eDemocracy processes and citizen involvement must
    be integrated in real policy making process to
    have a real effect. The sole introduction of
    online questionnaires, polls and forums here and
    there does not automatically make for
  • Without political backing and active involvement
    of policy makers, any eDemocracy project loses
    its potential impact towards greater citizen
  • Parties, being the most important policy
    formulation institutions can lead the way in
    becoming the most important policy deliberation
    and dialogue Institutions. / Could help redefine
    their role and increase membership
  • Citizens are willing to adopt eDemocracy
    platforms, to become engaged in party politics
    and participate in a deliberative process, if it
    is for Real!
  • Need for sound awareness Campaigns and Marketing
    to achieve MAXIMUM PARTICIPATION (0,001 of the
    population Nothing!).
  • Merge on-line with off-line tools and
    communications, as far as possible to tackle
    digital divide
  • 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.

The lessons learned
  • This is just the beginning
  • Collaboration, exchange and pooling of
    Information and resources needed at a Global
    scale, to deliver transferable good practice and
    learn from others mistakes
  • Not enough collaboration across disciplines!
    Political and social scientists still not working
    sufficiently with ICT scientists, Web Artists and
    Designers, policy makers, civil society and
    citizens, to create the present and guarantee
    the future of eDemocracy
  • eDemocracy is still in its Infancy real
    experiments are crucial for the development of
    good practice early-on
  • This is not just about Local, National or
    Supra-National Government
  • eDemocracy applicable to ALL democratically
    organised social formations, that have
    decision-making processes.
  • Civil Society Organisations, Federations,
    Associations, Universities, Schools, Businesses
    etc can vastly benefit from eDemocracy

Time for change?
  • ICTs acts as a magnifier and multiplier of the
    inherent tendencies and characteristics of the
    spaces where they are implemented. More and
    better technology doesnt necessarily mean more
    and better democracy
  • Being true to the democratic values and
    tradition, we should rethink democracy to make it
    better in todays terms. Do not try just to
    implement ICTs to the old democratic processes
    (just eVote / Diebold) use ICT power to
    reengineer the old processes into new more
    effective ones, following sound methodologies and
    democracy principles

A framework for change
Dr. Costis Toregas / G.W. University
What can the EC do?
  • Start from the Inside! are you into eDemocracy
  • Set the example for all others (CoE, UN, etc)
  • Develop the eDemocracy tools you use in a
    creative way Dont discuss it in conferences -
    Create it! Multi-stakeholder /
    multi-disciplinary hands-on eDemocracy tools
    construction workshops.
  • Publish and disseminate as much as possible the
    problems faced and failures put in the right
    context to draw conclusions and avoid pitfalls
  • online guidance and support for Local Authorities
    use of the right tools based on the right
    methodologies for the right needs of the right
  • Get the citizens and stakeholders involved in
    your policy formation processes through
    edemocracy the best awareness and education
    strategy on democracy!

  • Tell me and Ill forget
  • Show me and Ill remember
  • Involve me and Ill understand
  • (Old Chinese proverb)

About access2democracy
  • access2democracy non-profit N.G.O. was
    established in Athens and New York by a
  • group of prominent, like-minded world citizens,
    end 2003.
  • Officially launched during the WCIT 2004
    proceedings in Athens
  • a2d mission
  • to promote the principles and practice of
    participatory edemocracy within the Global arena.
  • Explore and experiment with innovative tools and
    technologies to create new public spaces for
    citizen deliberation and enhance democratic
    participation in policy formation processes.
  • Our Honorary Board
  • Maria Livanos-Cattaui Former 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 Co-Founder director MIT
    Media Lab / Founder - Chairman OLPC
  • George A. Papandreou Former MFA, now leader of
    the Opposition, Greece, Pres. of Soc. Int.
  • Bill Richardson Governor of New Mexico US,
    former U.S. Ambass. to U.N. / Secretary for
  • Amartya Sen Nobel Laureate, Lamont Univ. Prof.
    Emeritus at Harvard
  • Some members of our Board of Directors
  • Andreas Papandreou (Chairman) Assist. Prof.
    University of Athens, Econ. Dept.
  • Stephen Coleman Prof. of Political Communication
    at Leeds University/ Research Assoc. OII
  • Michail Bletsas Director of Computing at the MIT
    Media Lab / OLPC
  • Dimitris Kyriakou Chief Economist for European
    Commission IPTS / editor of The IPTS REPORT

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