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e-Democratic Experimentation in Europe: The Case of e-Voting


Mendez, Fernando (2007). e-Democratic Experimentation in Europe: The Case of e-Voting. e-Working Papers 2007/02, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Over the last decade European democracies have conducted numerous trials with a wide range of ICT enabled forms of novel political experimentation. These initiatives have been conducted across various levels of political authority, from the local right through to the supranational. At the same time, there has been considerable variance in terms of the distinct e-techniques that have been the subject of political experimentation. In this sense, Europe's diverse political landscape offers us a rare political laboratory for examining the potential impact of varying institutional structures and political cultures on distinct forms of so-called e-democratic experimentation. This is especially the case with regard to a number of recent evoting trials. This paper argues that a focus on small-scale forms of political experimentation, such as e-voting, can overcome certain methodological difficulties related to undertaking cross-national comparative analyses of larger-scale edemocratic experimentation. Given the sheer variability in the types of recent edemocratic experimentation, their focus, target groups, the technologies used and the role of distinct public (and private) actors, it is argued that by adopting the former approach, that is by focusing on smaller scale trials, we are more likely to ensure that comparable phenomena are actually being compared. To the extent that this is achieved, and our analyses our more structured and focused across cases, we are also more likely to derive valid inferences as to the particular mechanisms or factors at play in a given form of ICT enabled political experimentation.

Abstract

Over the last decade European democracies have conducted numerous trials with a wide range of ICT enabled forms of novel political experimentation. These initiatives have been conducted across various levels of political authority, from the local right through to the supranational. At the same time, there has been considerable variance in terms of the distinct e-techniques that have been the subject of political experimentation. In this sense, Europe's diverse political landscape offers us a rare political laboratory for examining the potential impact of varying institutional structures and political cultures on distinct forms of so-called e-democratic experimentation. This is especially the case with regard to a number of recent evoting trials. This paper argues that a focus on small-scale forms of political experimentation, such as e-voting, can overcome certain methodological difficulties related to undertaking cross-national comparative analyses of larger-scale edemocratic experimentation. Given the sheer variability in the types of recent edemocratic experimentation, their focus, target groups, the technologies used and the role of distinct public (and private) actors, it is argued that by adopting the former approach, that is by focusing on smaller scale trials, we are more likely to ensure that comparable phenomena are actually being compared. To the extent that this is achieved, and our analyses our more structured and focused across cases, we are also more likely to derive valid inferences as to the particular mechanisms or factors at play in a given form of ICT enabled political experimentation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Language:English
Date:2007
Deposited On:27 Aug 2015 09:30
Last Modified:28 Nov 2016 08:06
Series Name:e-Working Papers
Number of Pages:22
Related URLs:http://www.centreforedemocracy.com/ (Organisation)

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