C Explanatory memorandum
by Mr Szabó, rapporteur
1. The Council of Europe is the
oldest pan-European institution standing for democratic values and principles.
During 60 years of its activities, it has established an important acquis which constitutes a valid reference
for the development of democracy. This acquis,
including international legal instruments, as well as recommendations
and guidelines, is aimed at standard-setting and establishment of
structures and practices.
2. The Parliamentary Assembly, for its part, has devoted a good
deal of its work to the question of the quality of democracy, the
functioning of democratic institutions and the shortcomings of the
democratic process in Council of Europe (CoE) member states. Since
2007, the full-day debate devoted alternately to human rights and
democracy has been held in the Assembly on an annual basis.
3. Furthermore, the Assembly is actively involved in the activities
of the CoE Forum for the Future of Democracy, established by the
Heads of States and Governments at the CoE Summit in 2005, and conceived as
an ongoing process aimed at the promotion of democracy at the pan-European
level and a platform for furthering reflection on its numerous aspects.
4. Democracy is an open, on-going process which is constantly
confronted with new challenges and problems, and needs to be adapted
to new situations and improved.
5. The development of the information society is one of the challenges
facing contemporary democracies and at the same time it constitutes
a great opportunity and opens new channels for the improvement of
the quality of the democratic process.
6. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can largely
contribute to better democratic practice by increasing participation,
engagement and empowerment of citizens as well as transparency,
accountability and inclusiveness of democratic institutions and
the democratic process as a whole.
7. Electronic democracy (e-democracy) is primarily about democracy
and not about technology. E-tools can be instrumental in enhancing
democratic principles but it can only be achieved in a democratic
environment in which human rights and the rule of law are respected.
E-democracy cannot replace representative democracy, but it can
8. One cannot ignore potential risks linked to the development
of ICT and their use in the political process. Possible political
or technical abuses, criminal abuse, lack of sufficient protection
of data; all these misuses of ICT may be detrimental to the democratic
process and result in human rights violations.
9. A risk of emergence of “digital gap” between different categories
of population, insufficient education and unequal access to e-tools
may result in new social divisions and inequalities.
10. Confidence is a necessary precondition of a successful development
of e-democracy. In order to get involved in the process, citizens
must be confident that their participation is not misused, and that
they will have a tangible influence on the decision-making process.
11. The present report has been designed as a parliamentary contribution
to the 2008 meeting of the Forum for the Future of Democracy, which
took place in Madrid on 15-17 October 2008, and was devoted to e-democracy.
My intention was to draw attention to the main opportunities and
challenges for representative democracy which arise from the development
of technology and informatic society.
12. In return, the deliberations and conclusions of the Forum
provided me with valuable information and reflections enabling me
to draw up a recommendation to be submitted to the Assembly and,
if adopted, addressed to the governments with a view to improving
conditions for further introduction of electronic tools in the political
13. So far, the Parliamentary Assembly has not specifically dealt
with the question of using e-tools in the democratic process and
the new opportunities and challenges arising from the rapid emergence
of the information society. In 2007, I prepared, on behalf of the
Political Affairs Committee, a report on distance voting. At that
time, we agreed that e-voting and internet voting, which obviously
can be considered as distance voting, would be dealt with in more
detail in the report on e-democracy. I refer those interested to
that report which is complementary to more specific considerations
on e-voting which will be included in this report.
14. My report should be seen in the context of the Committee’s
previous work on democracy, and in particular Mr Gross’s report
on the state of democracy in Europe, presented in 2007. In this
report the rapporteur, while expressing satisfaction at the unquestionable
achievements and progress in the implementation of the democratic
standards in Europe over recent years, has expressed his concern
over the increasing number of deficits of democracy like the disfunctioning
of democratic institutions, insufficient representativeness of many
parliaments, insufficient transparency and accountability, all of
which result in the increasing feeling of political discontent and
disaffection among citizens.
15. I would also like to refer to another relevant report prepared
by the Political Affairs Committee, namely on “The code of good
practice for political parties” prepared by Mr Van den Brande. Political
parties, which are the main actors of the political process, should
be particularly interested by the opportunities, and be aware of risks
related to e-democracy.
16. In my reflections, I have taken into account the work of other
Council of Europe sectors dealing with this issue, particularly
those of the CoE Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and
of the ad hoc Committee on e-democracy (CAHDE) of the Directorate
General of Democracy and Political Affairs, which is a part of a broader
project “Good governance in the information society” of the Council
2 Areas in which e-democracy could be
helpful to increase the quality of a democratic system and contribute
to overcoming some of its deficiencies
2.1 Citizen participation and engagement
17. One of the main concerns of
our democracies is a form of alienation of citizens from political
processes. Democracy is supposed to empower citizens and give them
the feeling of being able to influence their own lives and act in
order to live in dignity. Do they really have this feeling in the
representative democracies of today? Are they actors in the decision-making
process, in governance? I am afraid that the reply is negative.
18. Traditional representative democracies tend to limit citizens’
participation to a simple act of voting. But unfortunately, many
citizens have lost trust in their political representatives. There
are many reasons for this: people feel that they are estranged from
political actors, institutions and processes. They are unable to
identify their own every day problems and concerns in the official
political agendas. Furthermore, politicians are perceived as distant
from ordinary people, living in another world and serving their
19. Political parties, which should be the most important links
between representatives and their voters and where problems should
be analysed and transformed into policy proposals, have lost much
of their capacities and are functionally replaced by media which
set agendas and organise debates.
20. Moreover, globalisation of markets has created the feeling
of imbalance between economy and democracy, and the strong conviction
that decisions are increasingly taken outside parliaments under
the influence of different lobby groups.
21. As a consequence, voters feel that elections do not offer
real choices between genuinely different policy options. They have
doubts about democracy because they feel unable to influence the
political processes in decision-making.
22. Among different indicators of citizen participation, electoral
turnout seems to be one of the most revealing. Its decrease over
recent years in many CoE member states has given rise to repeated
opinions on the crisis of democracy and alienation of citizens from
the political process.
23. I deliberately dwelled at length on this diagnosis of today’s
democracy because I am convinced that ICT – information and communication
technologies – can, to a large extent, help overcome some of the
problems faced by our democratic systems today. They offer possibilities
which could remedy our present problems.
24. However ICT does not only help to overcome the problems mentioned,
but will enforce them as well. The new technology (first of all:
the internet) provides the possibility for citizens to organise
themselves in groups of interest which they pursue. Politicians
in the governments and in parliaments deciding over issues of e-voting,
internet copyright law or taxation must understand the point of
view of digitally literate users, otherwise tension will be generated
and the result of digitally illiterate decision makers will only
be building barriers and making regulations. If the politicians
are unable to change their approach to the current time and current possibilities,
there could be misunderstanding between the political elite and
the young and middle-aged generations. In our new information society
politics have to switch to be “internet user friendly” and it also means:
25. Furthermore the internet provides easy access to extensive,
diversified and relevant information. This includes institutions,
parties, and politicians, websites and blogs. It has become common
that parliamentarians have their own websites, and that parliaments
or municipalities transmit their proceedings on the web. This is a
very positive development which enables citizens to learn easily
about the issues at stake, different positions and proposals, and
encourages them to express their opinions. However, numerous websites
need improvement in terms of selection and transformation of available
information. This is primarily a technical question which is strongly
linked to financial resources. It deserves appropriate attention,
as without clear, easily accessible information, people are not
likely to significantly increase their participation and engagement. The
Council of Europe is very well placed to promote best practices,
help share experiences and introduce guidelines at the pan-European
26. The websites of public institutions at all levels should be
designed in such a way as to enable users to get in contact with
interlocutors. The whole process should be highly effective and
citizens should be treated seriously. Without any doubt, the interaction
between citizens and their political representatives, be it at the level
of governmental or regional institutions, party leadership or parliamentarians,
as well as candidates, can inspire people to be more involved in
the democratic process. Online forums are likely to encourage citizens and
develop more interest in influencing political action.
27. This interaction can be used by political decision-makers
as a convenient means to gather information about citizens’ opinion
on concrete questions, and consequently, to make them a part of
the political decision-making process. Of course, this again requires
financial resources and people in charge of communication on a permanent
28. In other words, e-democracy can create new platforms, bring
citizens and politicians together in new forms of dialogue. It enables
and encourages enhanced participation in political processes. This
does not translate to direct democracy with referenda on every possible
question. Rather it fosters an enhanced representative democracy,
enriched with stronger citizen control of the deliberations and
decision-making process and engagement in it.
29. This is not a question of replacing democracy by e-democracy
or representative democracy by participative democracy – not at
all. It is all about making wise use of e-tools with a view to responding
to certain challenges faced by our systems, in order to perfect
our present democracies.
30. E-democracy may help to overcome acute indifference, disengagement
and mistrust on the part of citizens.
31. Interaction through the internet
contributes to the engagement of citizens, and at the same time
it also constitutes an excellent means for their empowerment.
32. Indeed, numerous e-tools, including online deliberation systems,
e-referendum, e-initiative and e-petitioning, if efficiently introduced
into political systems as elements of direct democracy, would provide citizens
with unprecedented opportunities for contributing to the decision-making
33. This new empowerment already exists in many European countries.
Switzerland is one of the best examples of the most advanced democracy
system making use of electronic tools. Thus e-initiative can be used
there as the proposal for a new law, or amendment of a law already
established, and also in the form of referendum to oppose a recent
decision of a government. Swiss citizens can launch e-initiatives
at the communal, cantonal or federal level.
34. But the Swiss are not the only ones to see the potential of
the use of the internet for their empowerment. In the Czech Republic
“the movement for direct democracy” demands online such amendments
in the Constitution which would allow the citizens, thanks to e-tools,
to directly participate in the decision-making process, particularly
through referenda at the local level and to recall at any moment
their parliamentary representatives.
35. In Slovakia, “Agora”, the civic association in support of
direct democracy, uses the internet to promote the reduction of
expenses of the public administration and the number of members
in the National Council, the change of the majority voting system
to a proportional voting system for the election of half of the
Chamber members, and the safeguards for the transparency of the
governmental system. In co-operation with public institutions and
NGOs, the association tries to initiate public discussions by means
of internet and to ensure civic support for legislative initiatives
36. There are more direct democracy platforms in Europe, created
in order to favour citizen initiatives, especially on the European
Union (EU) agenda.
37. Local referenda using e-tools is another example of potential
for the empowerment of citizens. Even if, under the present legislation
in many countries, they are not legally binding, they enable communities
to make their opinion widely known.
38. The ‘deliberative poll’ example could be a good model for
local authorities. It includes choosing a voting event on a particular
issue, promoting discussion by involved people and finally inviting
citizens to actually vote on this issue.
At a higher level, 140,000 people in France and Italy were
involved in referenda where E-Poll projectNote
of the EU were tested.Note
40. An independent network of NGOs and individuals, hosted by
network “Democracy International”, supports local campaigns in the
EU member states through its website.
41. Electronic democracy also provides the possibility of taking
some initiatives for citizens like participatory budget. Citizens
can have online access to the proposed budget, tax and spending
proposals and take virtual budgeting decisions.
Successful examples of implementation of budget proposals
online are in Porto Alegre (Brazil), in Bürgerhaushalt Emsdetten
(Germany) and in Issy-les Moulineaux (France).Note
43. The e-Agora project, financed by the European Commission,
enables citizens to take part in participatory budgeting activities
through the new technologies. The project is co-ordinated by Issy-les-Moulineaux
from France and gathers towns from Brazil (Juiz de Fora and Ipatinga),
from Chile (Viña del Mar) and from Belgium (Frameries). It aims
to create an international Academy of e-democracy to promote the
use of the ICT’s in the service of democracy, especially for the
participation of the citizens. 44 cities in the world are taking
part today in the online training programme launched by e-AGORA,
for a better understanding of the mechanisms of the new governance
and the local e-democracy.
44. These are only sample examples of citizens’ initiatives leading
to empowerment. They are more and more numerous from one day to
another. But there are also discouraging examples of websites being
set up and opened for signatures and subsequently being abandoned,
or of petitions signed by thousands and given no follow-up. This
is a waste of public energy which also creates a danger of losing
confidence in e-tools.
45. This is directly linked to a highly political question regarding
the right of citizens to launch a new law or modify the existing
one. Such a possibility is foreseen in some national legislations,
but in the majority of Council of Europe member states it does not
exist. Given the quick development of information society, political debate
on this issue should be opened and the Council of Europe could be
instrumental in initialising it.
46. Non-governmental organisations should also be sensibilised
regarding the responsibility they bear in this respect. But of course
we must recognise that this kind of activity requires financial
resources, organisational capacity and know-how. Therefore particularly
in this case, the Council of Europe should use its resources with a
view to creating better conditions for public initiative. These
should include guidelines, assistance and promotion of best practices.
47. Some of the above mentioned e-initiatives may wither away,
some others may not attract wider attention, but the mere fact that
people are active, and that they make an effort, shows clearly that
there is need for such activities and huge potential for the future.
Once the conditions are met, once regulations are put in place,
once efforts are co-ordinated and harmonised – the result may be
48. Inclusiveness of the democratic
process is one of the main preconditions of democracy. The great advantage
of e-democracy is its potential accessibility for all citizens,
regardless of their vulnerability or disabilities.
49. E-tools provide benefits and technical solutions for people
with low literacy or difficulties in language fluency. Websites
and software are designed to meet different user needs, preferences,
and situations, including people with visual, auditory, physical,
speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities.
50. E-tools can potentially facilitate participation in the political
process of the vulnerable categories of population, whether their
vulnerability results from social, racial or religious or other
situation. It may also help overcome inequalities linked to gender
51. Needless to say that, in order to be effectively inclusive,
e-democracy has to be accessible to the entire population. Disabled
people who have no access to electronic devices, will not benefit
from advantages coming from e-tools. We have to be extremely careful
not to duplicate social inequalities with a technology gap. I will look
closer at this question under the heading “Main concerns of e-democracy”.
The International Tracking Survey Report (2003)Note
illustrates some statistics from
two studies on e-governance that contribute to the new perception
of citizenship. The first one, conducted in 2002 by the Washington,
Pew & American Life Project, illustrates the extent of e-government
usage in the country. Statistics on this study demonstrate that
a new “e-citizenship” appears. More than 40 million US citizens
carry out their research on public policy issues in government web
sites, more than 20 million Americans use to send comments to public
officials about policy choices. And they also gather information
from the government web sites that help them decide for the casting
of their votes, and participate in online lobbying campaigns.
A similar study conducted in 2007 by the European firm, Taylor
Nelson Sofres, concerns 27 countries around the world and shows
that more than 25% of people globally have used the to access government information,
provide personal information to the government, or transact with
e-government services. E-government usage varies globally: Norway
and Denmark have the highest e-government usage at 53% and 47% respectively,
Finland 46%, the United States 34%, France 18%, Germany and Korea
17% and Great Britain 11%.Note
According to the findings of the report of 2007, 26.9% of
the EU population uses the Internet for interaction with public
authorities, 17.8% for downloading official forms and 12.6% for
sending filled forms. These percentages have a higher rate in Northern
countries and a much lower rate in Bulgaria, Turkey, Macedonia and
55. The UN e-government Readiness Index 2008 listed the 30 most
successful countries in the world. The first ranks are held by the
European countries: Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands,
followed by non-European countries, such as the US, the Republic
of Korea, Canada and Australia.
2.4 Transparency and accountability
56. Transparency and accountability
in democratic systems are particularly important as they enhance
the credibility of the entire democratic process. Many countries
benefit from a variety of live webcast technologies to provide their
citizens with live access to committee proceedings, briefings, conferences
57. The most advanced performance in this respect as regards national
authorities is by the House of Commons and Legislative Assembly
of Ontario in Canada, by the Scottish Parliament and by the US White House.
There are also webcasting initiatives taken by the European Union
for the ManagEnergy broadcasts and the United Nations.
58. In Europe, we have several examples of local government webcasting
in the UK. British citizens have access to elected official videos
of meetings and community events around the country.
59. Online publishing, as in the case of online newsletters that
can be easily accessed, printed and read or distributed by e-mail,
provides direct and online information about the policies and the
decisions of central and local authorities.
60. Since 1997, the British government has published all of its
consultation and policy documents online, making them virtually
free and available instantly to all citizens who choose to access
61. During the electoral campaigning, for example by online election
mapping, voters can have access to detailed information on the candidates
standing for the elections and their policy issues; they can even
ask them questions relevant to their campaign.
62. Such transparency offers a considerable potential for parliaments,
and I will come back to this question in more detail under the heading
63. Many local authorities in different countries put at their
citizens’ disposal websites which enable citizens to take part in
participatory budgeting activities and to survey local government
64. Accountability online means not only that citizens may follow
budgets, spending and financial operations of different political
actors. It means primarily that they can control their political
65. Thus MP watch websites are becoming more and more popular.
Voters can follow their MP’s political conduct, parliamentary activities,
performance and votes, etc. One may expect that once they are well established
in our political landscape, they will be followed by the citizens’
right to recall their representatives.
2.5 Responsiveness of public authorities
66. Electronic democracy tools
create numerous opportunities for citizens to influence public policies.
The most widespread way of exerting pressure on public authorities
is by e-petition.
67. The UK government's Number 10 e-petition site allows citizens
to launch and sign online petitions that are directly reviewed by
the Prime Minister and the team at Number 10.
68. There are independent or private e-petition platforms in the
Netherlands and in Finland. In Norway, the ePetition project concerns
14 municipalities. There are also e-government/e-participation systems
at municipal level, including e-petitioning, such as the Amposta
citizen platform in Spain. Petition campaigns are also run frequently
by NGOs, such as: moveon.org or avaaz.org.
Local and regional level is particularly appropriate for promoting
use of e-tools in the political process. The Council of Europe Congress
of Local and Regional Authorities has carried out a great deal of
work in this field, adopting, inter alia, Resolutions 266 (2008)
on the e-tools: a response to the needs of local authorities, and
267 (2008) on the electronic democracy and deliberative consultation
on urban projects.
70. Local governments also have the opportunity to re-establish
communication with their communities and the possibility to gather
public opinion from online surveys, so that they can try to advance
their policy outputs or modify some aspects of their policies in
order to satisfy citizen demands.
2.6 Public debate and scrutiny
71. Through online questionnaires
or online panels, citizens are allowed to take micro-democracy initiatives by
selecting in advance the type of public policy issues to be consulted.
72. For fostering public debate and scrutiny of the decision-making
process, e-panels enable panel members to communicate and deliberate
with each other and with local authority decision-makers online.
Thus citizens participate in the panel process and increase their
input into local authority decision-making.
73. Citizens can give their opinions or formulate suggestions
that can be particularly useful for the pilot phases of council
projects before the detailed project development. And online discussions
can also influence councilors for more informed decision-making.
74. In New Zealand, for example, the Families Commission of the
Government has set up an online panel, "The Couch", to hear the
views of citizens on issues relating to families.
75. Online forums create an online discussion environment where
individuals and communities can engage simultaneously to discuss
issues, responding to the topics posted usually by a central moderator.
76. The role of civil society in making full use of e-tools is
essential. We can note with satisfaction a rapidly increasing civic
mobilisation which results in e-initiatives and the creation of
different pressure groups using ICT for influencing political processes.
In this respect, the work of the Council of Europe’s Conference
of INGOs on the Code for Good Practice on civic participation which
includes a section on e-democracy is to be commended.
77. ICT offer Parliaments and their
elected members a very special opportunity to make their relations
with constituencies and voters much more meaningful and to add a
special dimension to the concept of representativeness of democracy.
This includes, not only sharing information, increasing transparency
and accountability, but also elaboration of political vision with
regards to new perspectives offered by e-democracy, for example,
the right of citizens to launch a new law.
78. National parliaments have also special responsibility in reviewing
domestic legislation with a view to introducing legal standards
for using e-tools in the political process and to eliminate the
risks of their misuse, both technical and political, notably as
regards human rights and security issues including data protection, documents,
voting, networking and information security.
79. Council of Europe national parliaments interact with the public,
providing information on the work of the legislature and gathering
opinions on different issues although some of them have websites
which are much more sophisticated, user friendly and efficient than
the others. Also a big number of elected members run personal websites
and blogs in order to keep their voters informed on their work and
activities. In many countries it has become easy to monitor the
action of an elected representative. This is a very positive development
which reinforces the concept of representative democracy, and both
parliaments and individual members should be encouraged to continue
in this way and have the possibility to share their experience and good
practices. The Parliamentary Assembly should be instrumental in
80. Parliaments in different countries are at different stages
of the process of implementation of e-tools in their work. What
is necessary now is a global vision at a European level and a strategic
plan which would encompass the goals and objectives for the legislature’s
use of e-tools. This vision and plan must be endorsed by the key
stakeholders in each parliament: the members, officials, chairs
of committees, political group leaders and the secretariat – and
must be managed effectively by the legislature’s highest officials.
The Parliamentary Assembly is well placed to promote and co-ordinate
efforts at the European level.
81. E-voting is an important element
of e-democracy. Elections supported by ICT have been tested in several
Council of Europe member states, giving rise to a vibrant debate
in recent years. The most technologically advanced elections, using
the Internet, have been held in Switzerland and Estonia, and they have
proved to be successful.
82. The electronic vote, which helps to avoid problems related
to displacement difficulties in reaching polling stations, may have
a positive effect on the turnout, especially among young and old
people, disabled and ill voters, overseas personnel, business and
holiday travellers, and institutionalised or housebound voters.
83. In 2001, the Electronic Voting and Counting System (eVACS)
used in the elections in Australia, allowed blind voters to cast
their vote in secret by providing voters with spoken word instructions
and candidate lists through disposable headphones
84. However, in certain countries, several e-voting instruments
were introduced some years ago which were not coherent with modern
security requirements. Problems that inevitably surfaced with such
systems caused some academic and civil society groups to express
concerns regarding the safety of new voting technology. Concerns
expressed in the public resulted in a diminishing trust of voters
in the e-voting technology in many countries. These developments
in the Netherlands, Belgium and outside Europe, in the United States
and New Zealand have provided opponents of the e-vote with new arguments.
85. In order to strengthen voters’ confidence in voting technology
it is necessary that voting instruments should be tested by independent
testing laboratories and certified to the accepted standards. It
is also true that a number of questions linked to the e-vote such
as certification, confidentiality of the vote, protection of data, observation
or transparency, still need further consideration.
86. The Council of Europe maintains a predominant role in this
field. It reviews, on a regular basis, the implementation of the
Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2004)11 on legal, operational
and technical standards on e-voting and provides a platform for
discussion and exchange of experience and standard setting.
87. In the USA the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines were developed
as standards in 2005. It is highly recommended that legal, operational
and technical standards for e-voting should be further elaborated
to address fully all the security concerns about e-voting which
has today spread to many countries.
88. Reflection on these important issues at the pan-European level
should be continued.
3 Main concerns of e-democracy
89. Citizens’ confidence is one
of the necessary conditions of the success of e-democracy. This
confidence should be translated firstly in trust as regards security
of use of e-tools and the elimination of risk of their abuse, and
secondly, in conviction that e-democracy offers real opportunities
for participation in the democratic process. Citizens have to see
concrete results in their engagement.
90. Protection of personal data and its storage is another problem
which constitutes a major challenge in the light of developing technologies.
The Council of Europe has elaborated several relevant Conventions
and the Committee of Ministers has adopted a number of recommendations,
but the issue is evolving alongside the development of electronic
devices and continues to create new challenges.
91. Another necessary condition for the success of e-democracy
is generalised access to it. This means not only ease of access
to in terms of equipment and affordable connection, but also the
educational preparatory work needed to facilitate e-participation.
This goes beyond mere ICT skills. There is a real risk that the
“digital gap” or the “technology gap”, which certainly exists today,
will go hand in hand with the “social gap” and will result in the
reinforcement of the latter.
92. Another issue may seem only technical but in reality is more
than that: as e-tools become more sophisticated and widely used,
the amount of information and opinions grow so much, that instead
of being helpful, they may become confusing.
93. The concentration of technological tools in restraint groups
of corporate entities may be a potential threat to the democratic
process. It may lead to technological, commercial or political malpractice
94. The concerns listed above, and the new challenges appearing
with the further development of technology make it important that
best practices are widely shared.
4 Council of Europe’s role in promoting
95. The Council of Europe has made
it one of its priorities to fully exploit the potential of ICTs
as a means of reinforcing democracies. In the framework of the multi-disciplinary
project “Making democratic institutions work” (2002-2004), different
aspects of e-governance were explored and a European legal framework
for electronic voting was prepared.
96. It was followed by the Project on “Good Governance in the
Information Society” (2005-2008), which focuses on how new information
and communication technologies (ICT) affect the practice of democracy, human
rights and the rule of law in Council of Europe member states. In
2007, the Project had as its main task to compile and analyse examples
of good practice on e-voting and e-participation via its expert
network and to examine developments on e-democracy/e-participation
at European and international level in order to advise the Committee
of Ministers on e-democracy’s potential to facilitate democratic
reform and practice.
97. In the framework of this Project, the Ad Hoc Committee on
e-democracy (CAHDE), by looking beyond the widely addressed field
of e-Government, fills a gap in intergovernmental work as it examines
the potential of ICT’s to facilitate democratic practice. Synergies
are being sought with the European Commission, OSCE/ODIHR and with
the United Nations, through participation in the follow-up to the
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
98. The ad hoc committee has submitted a draft recommendation
on e-democracy to the Committee of Ministers for adoption in the
near future. Once completed, it will offer Council of Europe member
states’ governments guidelines and principles for dealing with e-democracy.
The recommendation will also offer a number of practical tools.
99. The Parliamentary Assembly is very well placed for further
action in promoting e-democracy at the pan-European parliamentary
level. As a strictly political body it bears particular responsibility
for a quick and adequate reaction to the challenge and opportunities
created by new technologies. Of course, these solutions require
political courage and political vision – and these can be achieved
by political debate on a broad, pan-European level. The Parliamentary
Assembly constitutes a good platform for such a debate.
100. The potential is enormous. I am convinced that we are only
at the beginning of a long road and what we are witnessing today
will be fully effective once the necessary conditions are put into
place. The great advantage of the Council of Europe is that by enabling
dialogue and sharing good practices, it paves the way for systematic
solutions and regulations. We already have many spectacular examples
of using e-tools for the benefit of democracy, but they remain isolated,
and the Council of Europe should promote their introduction in a
systematic and harmonised way. We are heading towards a better quality
of representative democracy!
Reporting committee: Political
Reference to committee: Reference
No. 3388 of 21 January 2008
Draft resolution and draft recommendation unanimously
adopted by the committee on 16 December 2008
Members of the committee: Mr Göran Lindblad (chairperson),
Mr David Wilshire (vice-chairperson),
Mr Björn Von Sydow (vice-chairperson), Mrs Kristina Ojuland (vice-chairperson), Mrs Fátima
Aburto Baselga, Mr Françis Agius (alternate: Mr Joseph Debono Grech), Mr Miloš Aligrudić,
Mr Alexander Babakov, Mr Denis Badré,
Mr Ryszard Bender, Mr Fabio Berardi, Mr Radu Mircea Berceanu, Mr Andris Bērzinš, Mr Alexandër Biberaj,
Mrs Gudfinna Bjarnadottir, Mr Pedrag Boškovic, Mr Luc Van den Brande, Mr Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Mr Lorenzo Cesa (alternate:
Mr Pietro Marcenaro), Ms Anna Čurdová, Mr Rick Daems, Mr Dumitru
Diacov, Ms Josette Durrieu, Mr Frank Fahey, Mr Joan Albert Farré
Santuré, Mr Pietro Fassino (alternate: Mr Andrea Rigoni), Mr Per-Kristian Foss,
Ms Doris Frommelt, Mr Jean-Charles Gardetto, Mr Charles Goerens, Mr Andreas Gross, Mr Michael Hancock, Mr Davit Harutiunyan,
Mr Joachim Hörster, Mrs Sinikka Hurskainen,
Mr Tadeusz Iwiński, Mr Bakir
Izetbegović, Mr Michael Aastrup Jensen, Mrs Birgen Keleş, Mr Victor Kolesnikov, Mr Konstantion
Kosachev (alternate: Mr Sergey Markov),
Mr Jean-Pierre Kucheida, Ms Darja Lavtižar-Bebler, Mr René van der
Linden, Mr Dariusz Lipiński,
Mr Juan Fernando López Aguilar (alternate: Mr Pedro Agramunt), Mr Younal Loutfi, Mr Gennaro Malgieri, Mr Mikhail Margelov,
Mr Dick Marty, Mr Frano Matušić, Mr Mircea Mereută, Mr Dragoljub
Mićunović, Mr Jean-Claude Mignon,
Ms Nadezhda Mikhailova, Mr Aydin Mirzazada, Mr Joāo Bosco Mota Amaral,
Mrs Miroslava Nemcova, Mr Zsolt
Németh, Mr Fritz Neugebauer, Mr Hryhoriy Omelchenko,
Mr Theodoros Pangalos, Mr Aristotelis Pavlidis, Mr Ivan Popescu, Mr Christos Pourgourides,
Mr John Prescott, Mr Gabino Puche, Mr Oliver Sambevski, Mr Ingo Schmitt, Mr Samad Seyidov, Mr Leonid
Slutsky, Mr Rainder Steenblock, Mr Zoltán Szabó,
Mr Mehmet Tekelioğlu, Mr Han Ten Broeke, Lord Tomlinson (alternate:
Mr Rudi Vis), Mr Petré Tsiskarishvili, Mr Mihai Tudose,
Mr José Vera Jardim, Ms Biruté Vesaité, Mr Luigi Vitali, Mr Wolfgang Wodarg, Ms Gisela Wurm, Mr Boris
Ex-officio: MM. Mátyás Eörsi, Tiny Kox
N.B.: The names of the members who took part in the meeting
are printed in bold
Secretariat of the committee:
Mr Perin, Mrs Nachilo, Mr Chevtchenko, Mrs Sirtori-Milner, Ms Alleon