e-Strategy and Legislatures: A Longitudinal Analysis of Southern Europe’s Parliaments
Parliaments are the cornerstone of representative democracy and one of the most significant loci of democratic politics. A growing number of studies have focused on the effects of ICTs on parliamentary function, but there is still a lack of systematic empirical research which measures change overtime. This chapter attempts to fill this gap by studying the extent and nature of change in ICT use by the parliaments of Southern Europe, focusing on whether parliaments have moved significantly forward toward opening up their digital gates to concerned citizens. To this end, comparative website analysis is deployed to track the use of ICTs by the legislatures in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Portugal, as well as the legislature of the European Union, at three different time instances, namely 2004, 2011, and 2013. Change is measured using the ‘E-Legislature Index’ and its four dimensions: Information provision, Bilateral interactivity, Multilateral interactivity, and User-friendliness. The study’s findings show that ICT use by parliaments is characterized by volatility and discontinuity rather than continuous linear growth. Furthermore, the analysis reveals that e-government and e-governance follow different trajectories: whereas ‘Information Provision’ follows a steady but expected progress and ‘Bilateral Interactivity’ shows an upward but unsteady trend, ‘Multilateral Interactivity’ fluctuates between stagnation and retrogression, pointing to a tendency of the parliaments to avoid taking greater risk of opening up their practices to citizens. In light of these findings, ICT use by parliaments is evaluated from the perspective of ICT strategic planning, providing suggestions for future research in the field.
Keywordse-Democracy ICTs and legislatures Website analysis Southern Europe
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