Online Citizen Activism the Key to Fixing Politics
The authors take up the themes of increasing citizen disengagement with mainstream democratic politics, particularly among the young, and what they see as the growing disconnect between the policy agendas of political parties and policy priorities articulated by voters.
They point out to an almost negligible proportion of people joining major political parties in Australia as one of the symptoms of a political system that 'seems to have reached breaking point'.
They go on to highlight the opportunity provided by the internet for citizens to self-organise and discuss, debate and decide on policy issues they believe are important to them.
The authors suggest a number of processes by which online-driven policy deliberations by citizens could occur and how decision-making and democratic governance might be changed to give the system more legitimacy as well as public buy-in.
Suggestions include online policy forums dedicated to specific policy areas where citizens could collaborate to craft policy as well as make direct nominations of candidates for election.
The authors point to the recent initiatives by citizens in Spain and Argentina who are using internet-based platforms to communicate and organise policy and political activity.
They conclude: 'We believe that all the conditions required to create a breakthrough for citizen-led democracy now exist. Indeed, politics is almost the last of our great institutions to be transformed by the internet'.
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