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The digital future of democracy

Tuesday 27-01-2015 - 11:53

The Digital Democracy Commission has announced their plans to make democracy in the UK more accessible online which include introducing online voting and broadcasting debates and committees from Parliament online.

The Internet is teeming with endless amounts of information and ways of communicating with individuals, organisations and soon governments. The Digital Democracy Commission (DDC) has been looking at how Parliament could work in a way that people expect in the modern world. As part of the 'Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy' report, the DDC received views and opinions from a wide range of people including members of the public on how they felt about politics and the work of Parliament.

The main messages that came back were:

  • Lack of understanding about politics and Parliament
  • Jargon and unclear language
  • Difficulty finding information about Parliament and its activities
  • Feeling that Parliament is not relevant
  • Feeling that participating will be pointless and that politicians do not listen
  • Lack of opportunities to be involved with Parliament.

NUS National President Toni Pearce sits on the DDC and spoke on the issues why the report is essential to the future of democracy:

'We're convinced that we can have a really transformative impact on politics in the UK and the way that Parliament operated by use of digital means by making Parliament and Parliamentarians accessible online and making sure we bring the politics of the UK into the 21st century.

'I think the Digital Democracy Commission is a really exciting opportunity to explore the ways in which we can open up politics and Parliament to the people who live in this country.

'We're also aware that digital is just a tool and it won't change the way Parliament works or politics functions in the UK. For that to happen what we really need is Parliamentarians and people engaged in politics to change the way that they operate; to fundamentally review the way that they engage with the public and with citizens to make them feel a part of what the political system is in the UK.'
 

The report outlines several changes based on the research undertaken that will help improve Parliament and politics' engagement with people in the UK:

  • Improving public understanding about politics and Parliament
  • Reducing jargon and making language easier to understand
  • Making it easier to find out what's going on in Parliament
  • Relating Parliament’s work to people’s lives
  • Reaching out to under-represented groups
  • Widening opportunities for genuine participation
  • Tackling digital exclusion
  • Ensuring the public have a good experience of engaging with Parliament
  • Elections and voting.

See the full details of the 'Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy' report on the Digital Democracy Commission website.

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