Digital Democracy and JEF’s International Seminar “Digital Youth – What’s Ahead of Us”

, par Arnas Verpečinskas

Digital Democracy and JEF's International Seminar “Digital Youth – What's Ahead of Us”

From 12th to 17th October 2017, the Young European Federalists (JEF) organised an international seminar on Digital Democracy in Brussels, entitled « Digital Youth, what’s ahead of us ? ». This seminar was part of 2017 « E-democracy : connecting European youth and politics though digital tools » working plan that sets out to contribute education for digital democracy. The seminar aimed to draw a conclusion and evaluate the projects of the participants implemented in the framework of the « local actions » dimension of the 2017 work plan. During the workshops, the participants got the opportunity to share their experience and create a good-practices manual. Our author Arnas Verpečinskas attended the seminar and provides its feedback and the seminar’s main conclusions.

The internet is such an important part of our lives for so many reasons. From running a business to catching up with friends and online shopping, it serves an ever-increasing range of functions. The internet’s role in aiding democracy is also increasingly important.

Since not everybody had a chance to participate in the seminar but all of us have heard about the digital democracy, this article will shortly present the aim of the seminar and state the importance of digital democracy.

What is digital democracy and what was « Digital Youth » seminar for ?

Digital democracy is the use of the Internet or other computer technologies to enhance governance processes such as voting or participation in public hearings.

« Digital youth » was the final activity of 2017 JEF’s work plan on « E-democracy : connecting European Youth and Politics through Digital Tools » that sets out to contribute education for digital democracy. During this seminar, the participants expanded their understanding and knowledge regarding civic tech and e-democracy, and they developed skills, knowledge and competences about digital democracy and digital participation. They had the opportunity to meet experts from the Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU [1], they discovered civic tech innovations, and they attended the Digital Democracy Day organized by the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS). The participants have been empowered to promote and improve the condition for youth e-participation in their local environment.

Why is the internet an important part of democracy ?

  • The internet is a primary source of information for people about what is happening with local or central governments. This is particularly true for younger people who consider the internet to be an easy and reliable way to find information.
  • The internet provides instant gratification, people are more likely to research and get involved in politics.
  • Social media allow people to express their opinions quickly, judgment-free, from the comfort of their own home and often anonymously.
  • Politicians can get feedback and advice from citizens via the internet. This collective decision making and problem-solving gives more power to the citizens and helps the decisions to be made faster.

The claims and achievements of digital democracy

  • Digital democracy improves political information, retrieval and exchange between governments, public administrations, representatives, political and community organizations and individual citizens.
  • Digital democracy supports public debate, deliberation and community formation.
  • Digital democracy enhances participation in political decision-making by citizens.

All in all, it is great that more and more people are educating themselves in the field of digital democracy because it is steadily becoming a more and more important part of our world.

Notes

[1Improving and developing digital technology and digital security are some of Estonia’s priorities during its presidency of the Council of the European Union. Learn more in our article « Connecting digital technology to ‘European renewal’ in Tallinn », and in Le Taurillon, « Le modèle estonien : une révolution numérique dans l’Union européenne »

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