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The Idea of Electronic Democracy: Origins, Visions, Questions

Date & Time:
12:30:00 - 13:30:00,
Monday 31 January, 2005


With its ability to put information in the hands of people, it is often said that the Internet holds the promise for wider and more effective citizen participation in public affairs and will foster a new era of participatory democracy, usually termed as electronic democracy.

The aims of my presentation are threefold:

  • To trace back the origins of the idea of electronic democracy which emerged in the 1950s with the first computers and developed later in the 1970s with cable television and computer networks.

  • To analyze the different visions of democracy that political applications of the internet – as implemented by cities, political parties or governments – encompass.

  • To discuss some of the assumptions on which the idea of electronic democracy is premised. Do citizens need to be fully informed to make good decisions? Is transparency possible in politics? Do on-line discussion forums really revitalize the public sphere? Can we imagine political systems without intermediaries between governments and citizens?

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  • Thierry Vedel
  • Name: Thierry Vedel|Elisabeth Frazer
  • Affiliation: CNRS-Sciences Po, Paris|New College, University of Oxford
  • Role: |Chair
  • URL:|
  • Bio: |