Does technology represents a future solution for public participation in politics?

As digitalisation is shaping the democratic process and the political debate of these recent years, we asked young generations how to address this current issue. During the Wyred debate around ‘Digital participation’, many young people from different parts of the world had the chance to talk about the role of technology in our modern society and discussed how digital tools could be used to engage citizens in the world of politics.

This topic opened new interesting perspectives and participants split between those who are in favour of using technology in political life and those who are against.

The first ones argued that if used properly, technologies can lead to greater democratic participation, filling the gap between people and institutions and consequently increasing the trust in politics, nowadays perceived as more and more detached from real problems. Technology offers the opportunity to bring people closer together, making it easier to have a large-scale public debate and to take collective action at a high level. In support of this argument the case of Estonia has been mentioned, that introduced online voting in 2007, and the UK, that has adopted an electronic petitioning system to amplify the voice of the citizens (100.000 signatures can be sufficient to initiate a parliamentary debate).

On the other hand, the opponents claim that the use of technology in political life is not safe and it raises a lot of concerns about cybersecurity. According to the sceptics, digital democracy often comes with the risk of hacking and manipulation of personal data, leaving room to suspicions and possible false allegations. From this point of view, only the elderly and people with disabilities/impairments should be entitled to vote online from home. Furthermore, as recent events have shown, social media are indeed useful for sharing thoughts but at the same time they can spread disinformation and fake news, preventing people from having an informed and fact-based discussion.

Despite the different views, almost everyone on the forum agreed on the need for a more efficient and strict control on the web and recognized that it’s now time to introduce a regulation that guarantees online security.

And you, do you think technology represents a future solution for public participation in politics?