What could digital citizen involvement mean for the Dutch parliament? The Rathenau Instituut has asked Arthur Edwards and Dennis de Kool to survey local, national and international examples of digital citizen involvement.
The authors have analysed what we know about the effectiveness, representativeness, legitimacy and real or potential effects of these examples on parliament’s work. Their study shows that digital tools not only offer opportunities but also create dilemmas, such as those arising from the tension between new forms of citizen involvement and existing political structures. For example, there is tension between the opinions and preferences being articulated ever more forcefully (online) by individuals and groups of citizens and the freedom that politicians need to form their own opinions on political matters.
Why this research?
The Rathenau Instituut informs citizens and politicians about science and technology; in the present case, this means the digital tools that support democracy. This study is part of the ‘Dilemmas of digital democracy’ project. We are publishing this background study and the essay in order to inform the debate about a proposed government committee to review our parliamentary system. Our message is that a productive debate about a future-proof democratic system should go much further than the future of the Dutch Senate. The entire system of parliamentary democracy can benefit from greater citizen involvement using the digital tools that we have available to us.
Edwards, A.R & D. de Kool, Kansen en dilemma’s van digitale democratie - Wat kan digitale burgerbetrokkenheid betekenen voor het Nederlandse parlement? Den Haag, Rathenau Instituut 2015