|Wednesday, 1. April 2009 0 comment(s)||
I spoke with a Czech MEP today. Not as a researcher or even as a proper person, but as an anonymous voice online. The internet chat operated by Europe.bg made it possible for anyone to log on and take part in a real-time discussion with the ODS group leader Jan Zahradil. Not many did, the discussion lasted only one hour and it consisted mostly of short questions and answers, instead of debate. Nevertheless, it was an example of something unprecedented.
A new kind of participatory, public democracy is emerging in Europe. In comparison with the lively virtual reality of peer-to-peer tools and the blogosphere, it is still rather rigid, but politics is becoming more accessible through online tools on this side of the Atlantic, as well. In the European Union, it transcends nationality and borders.
Or is it an illusion of transnational democracy? Are the people participating in these online discussions with foreign politicians part of a group that would engage in the process in any case? Is the information and interest threshold still too high? Democracy is more than the possibility of taking part in decision-making. It is rather the active utilization of these possibilities by enough citizens. How many is enough?
In order for the fledgling online EU-level democracy to become something tangible and meaningful, it will be necessary for European citizens to acquire the relevant knowledge necessary to handle the flood of Euro-information. Only then can they draw informed conclusions, ultimately reflected in voting behaviour and legislation.
A combination of education and curiosity can make this possible.
Texts reflect the opinions of the individual authors