E-democracy and its Influence on Swiss Politics



Three Case Studies from Switzerland: Smartvote, Electronic Voting, and Political Communication
Berkman Centre for Internet and Society, Harvard University


The Berkman Centre prepared three case studies that examine how three distinctive, internet-driven political and policy tools influence various stages of the democratic process in Switzerland.

The first case study looks at the pre-voting stage, where an automated candidate-voter matching system called Smartvote helps voters identify politicians who advocate the same politics and policies they support.

The system was introduced by Swiss universities in 2003 to help address what was seen as an information deficit on the part of the voters as to what issues and policies election candidates stood for.

The second case study looks at the voting stage itself, in particular the implementation of electronic voting (e-voting) on a trial basis in Switzerland.

It concludes that while there are risks with e-voting in terms of transparency and hacking, the trial of e-voting in Switzerland promises significant benefits in terms of increasing voter participation and enhancing political rights.

The post-voting phase of the election process is the focus of the third case study, which examines the use of blogs and other personal internet communications by elected candidates and how they are used to communicate and interact more constructively with voters.

The case studies highlight that while the three tools are still largely being trialed or introduced into Swiss politics, together they have the potential to make a major contribution to enhancing voter participation and citizen awareness.


Thumbnail image: The Next Web/Flickr


Published Date
March 30, 2009