Highlights from the 8th parliamentary term : participatory and direct democracy in the European Union

In recent years, the increasing citizens’ distrust and disaffection towards representative institutions, coupled with the worrisome falling electoral turnout trend in many EU Member States, appear to signal a major crisis of the representation system as a whole.

In recent years, the increasing citizens’ distrust and disaffection towards representative institutions, coupled with the worrisome falling electoral turnout trend in many EU Member States, appear to signal a major crisis of the representation system as a whole. On the other hand, the growing diffusion of ICT tools and social media increases the chances for citizens’ involvement in the decision-making processes and, more generally, in political life. New forms of more direct participation and involvement of citizens are more and more experimented with, at different levels, and therefore need to be taken into consideration.

Participatory and direct democracy systems and tools, could represent one of the solutions for the above-mentioned problem of citizens’ mistrust and disengagement. The challenge, not only for Member States, but also for the EU, is to investigate whether it is conceivable to adopt and implement new ICT tools that can increase the participation and the direct involvement of citizens in decision-making processes. Such tools could help to reduce the so-called EU democratic deficit, and increase the democratic quality and the popular legitimation of the EU and the whole political system.

Consult the STOA study

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