Electronic Democracy in Europe

pp 1-17


Electronic Democracy in Europe: An Introduction

  • Ralf LindnerAffiliated withFraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) Email author 
  • , Georg AichholzerAffiliated withInstitute of Technology Assessment (ITA), Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • , Leonhard HennenAffiliated withKarlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)

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With the rise of the WWW as a platform for mass media, the question of the Internet’s potential to change politics and democratic decision-making quickly captured the attention of many researchers and practitioners. Despite an impressive body of literature and numerous experiences with the political dimension of the new media technologies, there are still many uncertainties regarding the interplay of the Internet and political processes in contemporary representative democracies. What is more, the specific challenges of electronic democracy related to the unique institutional makeup and governance processes of the European Union remain uncharted territory.

As this book focuses on the intersection of electronic democracy and European politics, the introduction to “Electronic Democracy in Europe” provides a concise overview of the debate on the Internet’s potential to change democratic politics, thereby contextualizing the discussion within fundamental normative views of the democratic process. With regard to the European dimension, this chapter also sets the stage for the ensuing parts of the book by describing relevant trends in European governance. These developments are discussed in terms of their enabling and constraining influence on electronic democracy at European level. The chapter closes with a brief outline of the three parts of the book—e-public, e-participation and e-voting.