Technology and democracy: the who and how in decision-making. The cases of Estonia and Catalonia
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This paper focusses on the use of technology to improve democracy, comparing the cases of Estonia and Catalonia. Both examples are closely related in their use of technology to further democratize the decision-making processes, but have opposite starting points. Estonia’s internet voting system is an offshoot of the comprehensive e-governance system developed by the Estonian government. It is meant to make it more convenient for people to vote and, thus, easier for them to take part in elections. In Catalonia, the online participation system Decidim, initially set up in the city of Barcelona, represents a bottom-up project that emerged from the 15 May protests and aims to make the representa-tive democratic system more direct and participatory. In our comparison we approach both paradigmatic cases from a theoretical reflection on the ideal types of democracy in relation to how decisions are made and by whom. Both projects have evolved and integrated new features that draw them together. First, internet voting is able to reach wider portions of society and digitally transform the Public Administration. Second, online participation platforms increase the potential for collecting citizens’ proposals and enriching discussions. These features make them more like a mixed model which, in the current model of representative democracy, creates spaces for a more direct and deliberative democracy.
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