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practice

European Journal of ePractice n° 7

eParticipation

As the European Union moves towards elections to the European Parliament in June 2009, there is a chance to reflect on the status of democracy and participation across the continent. Never before have there been such contradictory and auspicious developments in thinking about how all sections of European society can engage in policy making and political debate. On the one hand, it is clear that many have disengaged from formal politics, voter turnout is falling, membership of political parties is declining, and there is a widespread sense of a loss of trust in government and politicians. On the other hand, there is a surge of grass-root, often single issue engagement in policy making, people generally are more aware of public policy issues, and there are more outlets and channels enabling participation. Much of this is supported, and in fact driven forward, by new ICT tools. These range from the more traditional emails and electronic forums, to the Web 2.0 phenomenon of social networking, and applications which enable users to upload their own content and manipulate the content of others, as well as facilitate deliberation and debate. Indeed, many commentators have hailed President Obama as the world's first truly Internet politician, and there is no doubt that his intelligent use of ICT in political fundraising and campaigning has opened a new chapter in eParticipation.

Author(s): Jeremy Millard

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