e-democracy; participation; deliberation; electoral behaviour; e-voting; direct democracy; experiments; political psychology; information
Bächtiger André, Pedrini Seraina, Steenbergen Marco, Deliberative Inclusion of Minorities: Patterns of Reciprocity among Linguistic Groups in Switzerland, in European Political Science Review
Steenbergen Marco, Bächtiger André, Pedrini Seraina, Gautschi Thomas, Information, Deliberation, and Direct Democracy: Evidence from the Swiss Expulsion Initiative, in Coleman Stephen, Przybylska Anna, Sintomer Yves (ed.), 17.
For quite some time there has been a growing interest among scholars and practitioners in the virtues and challenges of e-democracy. The introduction of e-voting is on the agenda of the Swiss government, political issues are increasingly debated in blogs and on media websites and Barack Obama would probably not be president of the United States without his extensive and successful electronic campaign. Partly responsible for a boost in popularity is Web 2.0. Web-networks like Facebook are used to start campaigns against politicians (for example against Esther Maurer) or to start initiatives (like to one against Billag, a company which collects broadcasting fees, or against biometric passports). ICT definitely has its virtues but it has also become a real challenge to democracy. These are the reasons why we suggest a research module committed to e-democracy. Considering the huge number of activities belonging to the field of e-democracy we will - in this research module - concentrate in a first step on e-voting and on e-deliberation.The first PhD project we suggest looks at the voting advice application (VAA) smartvote. Since such VAAs are likely to become increasingly important and might one day get directly linked to e-voting the risk of abuse will also increase. The project will investigate how the voters use the smartvote website and how they make up their minds when it comes to selecting the party and the candidates they vote for. For the 2011 national elections a next version of smartvote will offer all the necessary features to fill in a voting list which could then be send to the polls. The project will analyze the use of the different features and the results they yield. This will not only help to develop minimal standards to guarantee non biased VAAs, but it will above of all offer a new research approach in the field of electoral behavior. The e-deliberation project will conduct and analyze deliberative online experiments on two se-lected topics of upcoming direct democratic votes in Switzerland (in 2010 and 2011). Switzerland with its extensive use of direct democracy provides excellent grounds for such experiments. The goal of the experiment is to identify institutional, psychological, and individual conditions that drive high quality deliberation (such as reasoned and respectful interaction) as well as desired normative outcomes (such as voter sophistication, preference transformation as well as meta-consensus and inter-subjective rationality). Additionally, the project will prepare the grounds for the set-up of a web-based tool which can be used in future direct democratic votes.We believe that such a research module is not only of great interest in itself but it fits also well into the NCCR “Challenges to Democracy in the 21st century”. It addresses a new and increa-singly important challenge to democracy which up to now could not be treated in an adequate manner by the NCCR and contributes to the more general research and transfer activities of the NCCR. The projects profit from empirical and normative findings of the NCCR and enrich the debates among its members. The thematic orientation is very much in line with the inter-national debate on e-participation which is one of the topics of the seventh framework program of the European Union. And, the result will be of great interest for the further development of such tools and for debates about a necessity of regulations.