26. June 2011 – 09:50 by Francesco Molinari
In the past 5-10 years, eParticipation emerged as a novel theoretical and practical domain, and it will further characterize the policy agendas of most industrialized and developing countries in the near future. Its state of the art is now profiled by a number of achievements worldwide. In Europe, the eParticipation Preparatory Action 2007-2010 has funded 20 demonstration projects including 30 pilot sites, 100,000 citizens, 50 public sector entities and 70 MEPs from 18 EU Member States. Recently, the Bertelsmann Foundation recognized 150 Government-led initiatives worldwide (see www.vitalizing-democracy.org), demonstrating that excellence in eParticipation is a growing and international endeavor.
However, documented practice shows mixed results from eParticipation initiatives, and concerns about sustainability-related matters (the likelihood that an expensive trial program will become “embedded” as a stable practice in the institutional setup of the concerned public sector organization) have started to emerge.
This is why Rolf Luehrs and I are launching the initiative of this collective book to be published in 2012 by IGI Global (formerly Idea Group Inc.). The book should provide relevant theoretical frameworks and the latest empirical research findings in the area of eParticipation. It is aimed to promote awareness and further debate on the scope and limitations of citizen engagement supported by ICT in modern democracies. It will also offer operational guidelines and lessons learned from past experiences to the benefit of government executives wanting to engage on eParticipation trials.
Specifically, the book is designed to deliver:
• a collection of European and international best practice of sustainable eParticipation
• a set of evaluation exercises to be used as guidelines for political understanding and future action
• an overview of existing methods, tools and ICT solutions available as a result of prior experiments
• an initial assessment of the “market potential” of the above.
Researchers and practitioners are invited to submit on or before July 30, 2011, a 2-3 page chapter proposal clearly explaining the scope and contents of their proposed chapter. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by August 15, 2011 about the status of their proposals and sent chapter guidelines. Full chapters are expected to be submitted by October 30, 2011. All submitted chapters will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis. Contributors may also be requested to serve as reviewers for this project.
For more information regarding this call, please contact http://supart.org
19. June 2011 – 12:28 by Francesco Molinari
In the aftermath of the three consecutive election rounds held between mid-May and mid-June this year – two administrative ballots and a referendum day – which have been unanimously seen as a defeat for the ruling center-right majority and particularly for the Prime Minister Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, many political commentators have strongly made the point that social networks (particularly Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) played a major role in determining the new prevailing orientation of Italian voters.
To be honest, the argument is not new. Already in the 2006 general election, a survey of electoral flows showed that the citizens embedded in homogeneous partisan networks were comparatively more influenced than those who discussed politics within heterogeneous networks that do not uniformly support a single political position. In both cases, the effects of interpersonal networks on voting behavior turned out to be stronger than those of TV news programs and generalist talk shows.
However, the big difference this time – particularly in the case of the referendum, since the administrative ballots were involving only part of the Italian population, though also including important cities like Milan, Turin, Bologna and Naples – is that almost all nationwide TV channels did not provide any coverage of the election day till the very last week of campaign. Critics attributed this lack of transparency to the fact that 5 out of 7 channels (three private and two public) are controlled by the media tycoon and elected PM Silvio Berlusconi, and that the referendum was putting into question the building blocks of his government’s policy stance: from privatization of a public service like tap water supply to the rebuilding of nuclear power plants in Italy, not to forget the controversial law that had suspended de facto the numerous ongoing trial hearings of the Prime Minister till the end of his mandate.
Knowing that the majority of voters would have repelled these acts – the argument continues – the Government’s unspoken strategy was aimed to prevent the 50,001% quorum (percentage of population going to the polls) that is required to make a referendum’s results effective, according to the Italian Constitution, differently from any normal election. Parts of that strategy were reportedly: the decision taken by the Ministry of Interior to postpone the referendum day till the beginning of school holidays in Italy, the slow start-up of the usual TV video clips instructing citizens how to vote as well as of the electoral talk shows in the national TV channels (a delay that was formally blamed by the National Telecommunication Authority), and other hilarious happenings like TV news speakers making mistakes on the actual election date, or fake weather forecasts announcing the sunshine and inviting people to go off on leisure trips… The same appeal, by the way, which was indirectly made to the electorate by key members of the incumbent majority.
Thus, while the impact of television on voting was being sterilized somehow, Italy registered an explosion of political discussions and particularly word of mouth spreading on social networks, with hundreds of Facebook groups created ad hoc and Twitter messages sent around to promote participation of friends and relatives in the referendum day (the assumption being that once reached the quorum, there would be no doubt on the results; in fact, the “aye’s” to abrogation ultimately won 95-5). Statistics available from Google Insights clearly show how the public’s interest on making web searches on the word “referendum” was steadily growing in the two weeks before. Here again, some humorous peaks were reached: for instance, Madonna’s latest hit being forced to change from “Vogue” to “Vote!“, or the TV information service for the hearing impaired becoming a pretext for mockery of Government censorship on how to vote.
Most of these video clips have relied on YouTube and other similar repositories to support viral distribution to peers and reach the top headlines of printed – as well as Internet – press. Yet, it remains fairly undemonstrated that a decisive push to voters orientation has been a direct consequence of this exposure. For instance, according to an instant poll realized by IPR Marketing on the aftermath of referendum day, 81% of former Berlusconi’s party voters and 64% of “Terzo Polo” (the main center opposition party) did actually stay at home on the referendum day, compared with 10% of left party supporters and a surprising 49% of the Northern League followers (the biggest ally in the Prime Minister’s coalition).
To conclude, while the political effects of social networks seem to have been enhanced by a partisan, purposeful reaction to a Government’s instrumental exploitation of traditional media and particularly TV, real impact seems to have more likely occurred within the center-left opinion area – by the way, the 2006 general election also saw the victory of a leftist majority, and part of the Northern League’s electorate is said to be made of former center-left voters – while the persistent power of television on electoral behavior is not decisively disconfirmed. Further research is needed to assess whether this election round marked a real breakthrough in the Italian politics or is simply another step of the long march towards wider engagement of “ordinary” people in the electronic participation arena.
3. February 2011 – 00:06 by Francesco Molinari
On January 31st, a group of academic researchers, city managers and consultancy professionals was gathered into a single-day expert advisory meeting led by IPTS, the European Commission’s Institute on Prospective Technological Studies, and Eurocities, the network of major European cities, to discuss and evaluate the preliminary results of an exploratory study carried out jointly by the two organisations over the past couple of years.
The study, called EXPGOV, has by now collected a huge amount of evidence on the most likely areas of impact of ICT on governance, based on a survey of about 60 out of 446 EU cities with 100,000 inhabitants or more from all 27 Member States (plus Croatia and Switzerland), and later on the preparation and analysis of four detailed case studies (Barcelona, Berlin, Manchester, and Tallin), the results of which were presented for the first time during the meeting.
In my opinion, the big merit of this effort is to have raised the issue of assessing ICT impact on middle- and large- sized city governance on a systematic basis in Europe – probably for the first time ever, as strange as this may appear. In that respect, it is a preliminary answer given to the key questions: “Where do we stand? Where should we go?” and also the photograph of work in progress, showing a fair deal of convergence between old and new Member States, south and north of Europe, relatively larger and smaller communities, both in terms of problems tackled with and solutions offered to approach them. Particularly the survey questionnaire (which was anonymously filled out by several kinds of stakeholder, including city managers or their delegates) provided evidence of a number of “flagship projects” that must have been making the difference in a number of European city contexts.
Read the rest of this entry »
12. November 2010 – 19:34 by Francesco Molinari
Per chi si fosse perso la prima edizione, ecco un’altra possibilità per un week-end lungo nella bellissima Montaione, vicino Firenze, in una due giorni di “full immersion” sulla partecipazione in Europa e nel mondo.
Le “Giornate di Montaione” è una conferenza promossa e sostenuta finanziariamente dalla Regione Toscana – bella sfida in questi tempi di ristrettezze di bilancio – come un appuntamento annuale, che quest’anno si terrà il19 e 20 Novembre (vedere agenda).
La lezione inaugurale del Prof. Stefano Zamagni, dell’Università di Bologna, ci intratterrà sulle relazioni fra crescita, democrazia e partecipazione. Come d’abitudine, saranno presentati e discussi un certo numero di casi di studio da dentro e fuori Italia, selezionati dal Comitato Scientifico guidato dal Prof. Luigi Bobbio dell’Università di Torino. Una Giuria di Cittadini composta di 24 persone estratte a sorte attribuirà il premio al miglior processo partecipativo realizzato in Toscana, la prima Regione italiana (non più l’unica!!) e forse in tutta Europa ad essersi dotata di una specifica legge sulla partecipazione, quasi tre anni fa.
Un premio speciale sarà assegnato al miglior paper scritto sull’argomento da un giovane ricercatore, quest’anno il Dr. Stephen Estlub dell’Università del West of Scotland, autore di “Linking micro deliberative democracy and decision-making: trade-offs between theory and practice in a partisan citizen forum”.
Per registrarsi si può inviare una e-mail ad ufficio.partecipazione AT regione.toscana.it allegando questa scheda.
Per altre informazioni cliccare qui.
12. November 2010 – 19:18 by Francesco Molinari
For those who missed the first edition, here is another opportunity to spend a couple of days in the beautiful town of Montaione, near Florence, to talk and listen about participation in Europe and in the world.
The “Montaione Days” conference is promoted and financially supported by the Regional Government of Tuscany as a yearly appointment – quite challenging in these harsh times of budget cutoffs – this time on 19 and 20 November (see agenda).
Keynote speaker will be Prof. Stefano Zamagni, from the University of Bologna, who will explain how growth, democracy and participation, can actually be linked together. As usual, a number of case studies from inside and outside Italy will be presented and publicly discussed, as they were selected by the Scientific Committee led by Prof. Luigi Bobbio from the University of Turin. A Citizen Jury composed of 24 randomly selected people will award the best participatory process from across Tuscany, the first Region in Italy (not anymore the only one!!) and possibly in the whole Europe to have voted a specific law on participation, almost three years ago.
A special prize will be awarded to the best thematic paper written by a young researcher, this year Dr. Stephen Estlub from the University of the West of Scotland, who wrote “Linking micro deliberative democracy and decision-making: trade-offs between theory and practice in a partisan citizen forum”.
To pre-register send an e-mail to ufficio.partecipazione AT regione.toscana.it using this form.
To get more information (sorry, in Italian) click here.
12. June 2010 – 09:04 by Francesco Molinari
La Regione Toscana è stata la prima in Italia, e probabilmente in Europa, ad approvare una legge (la L.R. N. 69 del 2007) espressamente dedicata a promuovere la partecipazione dei cittadini nelle scelte pubbliche e ad incoraggiare la diffusione di nuove metodologie e tecnologie in questo settore. La legge ha trovato terreno fertile nel senso civico e nel tessuto sociale della Toscana. Nei suoi primi anni di implementazione, sono già stati concretizzati numerosi e significativi esperimenti di partecipazione su tutto il territorio regionale.
Per rafforzare l’impatto, oltre che la visibilità internazionale, di questi esperimenti, una conferenza di tre giorni (in programma tutti gli anni nel mese di Novembre) ha luogo nel meraviglioso paesaggio di Montaione – una piccola città posta proprio al confine tra le province di Firenze e Siena, che negli anni scorsi ha ospitato uno dei più significativi dibattiti pubblici sul tema della definizione di una strategia locale di sviluppo turistico e conservazione ambientale per l’area circostante l’antico borgo medievale di Castelfalfi.
Nel quadro delle ‘Giornate di Montaione’, la Regione lancia adesso i “Premi Montaione“, per offrire riconoscimento alle migliori esperienze di partecipazione (progetti di ricerca e/o implementazioni pratiche) a livello mondiale. Il comitato scientifico cui sono affidate le valutazioni è composto dai professori: Umberto Allegretti, Loic Blondiaux, Luigi Bobbio, Quim Brugué, Rodolfo Lewanski, Massimo Morisi, Yves Sintomer e Stefano Zamagni. Tutti i vincitori saranno invitati alla prossima edizione della conferenza.
Scadenza del bando: 31 Luglio 2010
Comunicazione dei risultati alle parti interessate: 30 Settembre 2010
Il testo del bando in pdf.
1. Miglior processo partecipativo a livello mondiale
Il premio è attribuito a processi di partecipazione che sono già stati implementati, in Italia o al’estero. I candidati dovranno fornire informazioni sul proprio progetto in un documento di non più di due pagine, comprendente i sei punti elencati nella relativa sezione del bando. Il comitato scientifico inviterà un numero ristretto di progetti a presentare informazioni più dettagliate in una fase successiva.
2. Miglior paper di ricerca
Il premio è assegnato a giovani ricercatori (meno di 36 anni), Italiani o stranieri, per un paper – pubblicato o non– di 20-40 pagine, riguardante uno studio empirico su processi partecipativi. I paper possono essere scritti in Italiano, Francese, Spagnolo, Portoghese o Inglese. Il comitato scientifico provvederà alla loro valutazione. Il vincitore riceverà un premio di 2.000 Euro, in aggiunta all’invito a Montaione.
3. Miglior processo partecipativo in Toscana
Il premio per il miglior processo partecipativo sviluppato in Toscana sarà attribuito da una Giuria di Cittadini composta di residenti in Toscana estratti a sorte.
12. June 2010 – 08:36 by Francesco Molinari
The Regional Government of Tuscany was the first in Italy, and probably in Europe, to pass a law (No. 69 of 2007) expressely aimed to foster citizens participation in public choices and to encourage the diffusion of new methodologies and technologies in the field. This law has found fertile ground in Tuscany’s civic consciousness and social fabric. In its first years of implementation, it has already promoted a good number of significant participatory experiments all over the territory.
To strenghten the impact of these experiments, as well as their internationally visibility, a three-day conference (scheduled in November every year) takes place in the beautiful landscape of Montaione – a small town located right on the border between the provinces of Florence and Siena, which hosted one of the most significant public debates held so far, concerning the definition of a local community’s strategy for environmental preservation and touristic development of a surrounding area to the ancient Mediaeval village of Castelfalfi.
In the framework of the ‘Montaione Days’, the Regional Government has now launched the “Montaione Prize“, to bestow recognition to the best known examples (research and/or implementation projects) of citizens participation worldwide. The scientific committee in charge of the evaluation is made up of the professors: Umberto Allegretti, Loic Blondiaux, Luigi Bobbio, Quim Brugué, Rodolfo Lewanski, Massimo Morisi, Yves Sintomer and Stefano Zamagni. All winners will be invited to the next edition of the conference.
Deadline for submissions: 31 July 2010
Announcement of the results to the parties concerned: 30 September 2010
The full call text in pdf.
1. Best participatory process worldwide
This prize is awarded to participatory processes that have already been actually implemented, either in Italy or abroad. Candidates shall supply a file of no more than two pages on the project, and which shall include the six points listed in the relevant section of the call. The scientific committee will invite a restricted number of projects to present more detailed documentation in a subsequent phase.
2. Best research paper
This prize is awarded to young Italian or foreign researchers (under 36 years old) for a paper – published or unpublished – 20-40 pages long, focusing on an empirical study of participatory processes. The papers may be written in Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese or English. They will be evaluated by the scientific committee. The winner will get a prize of € 2,000, in addition to the invitation to Montaione.
3. Best participatory process in Tuscany
This prize for the best participatory process carried out in Tuscany will be awarded by a Citizens’ Jury randomly drawn among the Tuscany residents.
18. May 2010 – 17:04 by Francesco Molinari
Dear PEP-NET partners and associate members,
Apologies for this misuse of a public site for internal information distribution, but we thought it was good to make the process transparent to our non partner readers as well.
As you may know, the EU-funded project is coming to an end soon, but there is the intention to continue the PEP-NET experience by creating a more solid form of partnership, like an international non profit association, holding no financial risk for its members.
To appreciate what and how should be done in that direction, a survey has been launched among the PEP-NET (full and associate) members, by means of a personal invitation emailed to everyone on Friday 14th at 14:59 CET. In case you have lost or forgot about it, you will get a personal reminder pretty soon.
There is time for your response till Friday, 21st May at 12:00 CET.
What was not in the invitation, because it is today’s decision only, is that the survey results will be discussed and turned into action items for the foundation of the new PEP-NET association during a dedicated meeting of a “Temporary Steering Committee”, scheduled on Friday 25th & Saturday 26th of June in Berlin. There will also be a dedicated video conference session, open to all interested PEP-NET “fans”, on Friday, 25th of June at 16:00-17:00 CET, and that I cordially invite you to attend!
A note about logistics: People who want to take part in the video conference session have to register in advance. Daniel Roleff from politik-digital will set up the technology according to the number of participants. For registration, send an e-mail to Daniel (droleff AT politik-digital.de) and state your instant messaging ID (Skype, Vsee, GoogleTalk or Jabber). Please register soon, latest by Friday, 18th of June. There will be no further notice.
Thanks for your participation!
On behalf of the Temporary Steering Committee,
info AT pep-net.eu
12. May 2010 – 23:39 by Francesco Molinari
Major Cities of Europe – IT Users Group, the European association of Local Government CIOs and Public Officials, together with the City of Berlin and Vitako, the association of German public ICT service providers, announces the 2010 joint European Local Government Conference to be held on June 7th to 9th in Berlin at the Rotes Rathaus.
The conference will introduce some key European experiences of Local Government transformation that are aiming to a high quality and cost effective public administration. A variety of strategies, initiatives, and projects focused on providing valued services designed on the needs of constituents and leveraging the value of ICT.
Conference topics will be:
On June 7th / afternoon
- Strategies and Projects from Germany
On June 8th & 9th / morning – “The European Days”
- Electronic Document Management (June 8th / morning)
- Marketing and Acceptance of e-Government Services (June 8th / afternoon)
- New Ways of Organizing the Production of Public Services: Public Administration as a Collaborative Network (June 9th / early morning)
- A “Smart City” to Serve the Community, the Environment and the Economic Development (June 9th / final morning session)
Registration is open at www.majorcities.eu in the section dedicated to the Berlin Conference, where you can also find the full program and information on accommodation.
14. February 2010 – 12:13 by Francesco Molinari
I have just come back from an intensive 2-day workshop in Barcelona, beautifully organised and managed by QeC-ERAN – a Brussels based network of cities once affected by socio-economic breakdown – under the umbrella of a EU-funded initiative entitled Local Forums for Developing Participatory Democracy (link). The workshop aimed at highlighting the potential of multimedia tools to enhance political participation of young adults (18-30) and raise awareness of their fundamental rights and responsibilities as citizens of the Union. A notable number of young people came in from the various partner cities (the countries represented were Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the UK). Several EU-level experiences were presented, including PEP-NET and a Twitter based discussion entitled Why vote?. Sound evidence was shown regarding the creation of several Local Forums at the various partners’ locations in order to bring together ideas, make innovative experiments with multimedia tools and build new expertise to be shared internationally. An online community of practice is now being setup to further make the promotion of participatory democracy to young people more sustainable at local/regional level. Proposed instruments to facilitate the community: chat, instant messaging, whiteboard and discussion tables; voting and survey tools; document sharing facilities such as googledocs and a wiki to write together and produce text with shared visions. My comment: I spotted a lot of ingenious creativity and serious engagement in these people. Though this be madness, yet there is method in it. Worth a second look soon.