E-public, e-participation and e-voting in Europe - prospects and challenges (Study and Options Brief)

How can the Internet contribute to the development and establishment of a genuinely European public (e-public)? What are good practices for e-participation in Europe and how can public organisations profit from opening up their processes to a wider audience (e-participation)? Is e-voting a realistic means to increase electoral turnout and what are the conditions for the success of e-voting? These are the main questions being dealt with in this report, which is the final report of the STOA-project on e-democracy. The report includes the analysis and insights of a research and consultation project in which three scientific institutes, eleven external experts as participants of two workshops and several Members of the European Parliament were involved. The aim of the project, which went from January 2010 to September 2011, was to analyse current developments in the area of e-democracy and to relate the insights to the European policy context, especially to the needs of the European Parliament. Within the three areas of e-democracy covered in the study, e-voting is the area in which the recommendation to the European Parliament is the most explicit: Based on the analysis, the build-up of a comprehensive system for e-voting in Europe cannot be recommended for the time being. The reasons for this are primarily cost-benefit considerations, technological issues and reasons of political legitimacy. Underlying the analysis was the conviction that elections are at the heart of the democratic process and that existing and working election routines in the countries will not be changed without good reasons. Concerning e-public and e-participation the report argues that a European public sphere includes and requires an active citizenry endowed with political rights as well as with a sense of identity which motivates engagement and political concern. European citizenship cannot be based in common language and traditions but only in a sense of belonging to a political community w

External author 

Bernd Beckert (Fraunhofer ISI), Ralf Lindner (Fraunhofer ISI), Kerstin Goos (Fraunhofer ISI), Leonhard Hennen (ITAS), Georg Aichholzer (ITA) and Stefan Strauβ (ITA)