Europe-wide Study: Digital Technologies Become a Strong Factor in Democracy
Year of production: 2023
The study is published in a context where the demand for participatory and deliberative forms of democracy is growing rapidly in Europe, as local and regional governments seek ways to include more citizens in policy making. To handle the input of large numbers of people, technology applications for online participation, deliberation and e-voting developed by private companies, non-profit organisations and governments have been introduced in recent years.
This new study investigated the growing market of democracy technologies by interviewing practitioners in governments, experts and company representatives across Europe.
Key findings are:
- There are currently more than 100 vendors in Europe in the online participation, deliberation and voting sector. The vast majority of the industry representatives reported a strong increase in demand for their services.
- The market for online participation and deliberation in Europe is expected to grow to 300 Million Euros in the next five years, and the market for e-voting is expected to grow to 500 Million Euros. There is a window of opportunity for European providers of democracy technologies to expand beyond Europe, as their products and services have been positively received in other regions of the world.
- Balancing ease of access and secure authentication of citizens remains an area where further development is required, and represents a potential risk of democracy technologies. In many participatory budgets, people can propose projects and vote on a city’s budget even though they are not eligible residents. Also, as end-to-end verifiable systems are becoming available for online voting, vendors believe that security standards are required for end-to-end verifiable voting.
- The findings of the study suggest that the introduction of a Europe-wide quality trust mark for core processes of democracy technologies would be welcomed in the political sphere. It would contribute to the growth of citizen participation by increasing confidence among users and buyers of such technologies.
- Also, in some countries, the legal framework for participatory and deliberative democracy and online voting is lagging behind the situation on the ground, especially regarding inclusiveness, data usage, accountability and transparency.
- The report suggests that national agencies for online participation and voting should be established to address local governments’ needs and ensure consistent quality in participation processes. These agencies should provide know-how and offer local governments advice on security-checked tools, as well as developing recommendations for lawmakers and evaluating the impact of participatory processes.