In the public discourse about e-participation and e-democracy it is often undervalued the existing demands of participation arisen by citizens. In other words, too often citizens are represented as passive subjects that eventually became active if (when) stimulated by the institutions or experts.
Of course, to increase the number of politically active citizens is an important goal, as well as the direct participation on specific decision making processes. Nevertheless, it is also crucial to acknowledge the role of traditional channels of participation – as collective action, protest and claims by citizens – in controlling and stimulating the actions of the political elites.
Web 2.0 can be an important resource in these directions, by means of overcoming constrains due of the lack of access to ‘vertical’ media and the distance between political class and active citizenship. There are several recent examples of this kind of process (mainly in weak democracies and non democratic systems). In Europe, the yesterday’s demonstration in Rome seems to be a quite relevant case. A group of Italian bloggers and grassroots groups launched online this event and gathered about 350.000 fans on Facebook. Thanks to its wide resonance on the online sphere, the ‘purple’ demonstration – this colour has been identified both as a symbol of marked autonomy from political parties and of civil liberties – has then attracted also the interest of the Italian political parties of the Opposition. Even if one considers the difficult current situation of the Italian government, it should be admitted that, at least for a while, Italian citizens-bloggers and grassroots groups have succeed not only in mobilizing citizens (about 1million demonstrated in Rome and there were many local demonstrations in other Italian and European cities), but also in pulling a consistent part of the political class. We shall see whether this wide and successful mobilization, very critical towards the whole political class, may have a real impact on the institutional politics.
Have a look at: https://www.noberlusconiday.org/
Anna Carola Freschi