Civic involvement in Europe is sick, according to the pamphlet ‘Against Elections’ written by the cultural historian David van Reybrouck. The people are tired of the elected politicians. The decreasing attendance rates show it, as does the shrinking number of members of political parties. There is a democratic fatigue syndrome. On the other hand, it is striking that citizens are tired of politics, but at the same time are very involved in political issues. They take matters into their own hands. They want to organize themselves, for example healthcare and co-decide for example about budgets. They do this on the streets, in the neighborhood and now also on online platforms. Digital democracy is the use of information and communication technology (ICT) within democracy. The direct goal of digital democracy is to offer citizens online tools to share their ideas, indicate preferences and make their voices heard in decision making.
When it comes to participation ‘do-ers’, active residents are committed to their living environment. Examples: Right to Challenge: the legal right of residents to take over local tasks when they think they can do better. Resident companies: neighborhood businesses of, for and by residents with the aim of permanently improving the quality of life in the immediate vicinity. Online platforms for tackling (local) issues: Gebiedonline.nl, Mijnbuurtje.nl, Buurbook.nl, Whatsapp group for neighborhood prevention.
When it comes to thinking along, the ‘thinkers’ advise the government on the organization of society in all kinds of areas, including care and well-being. Examples: Citizens ‘summits: often referred to as a’ G1000 ‘after the citizens’ summit that David van Reybrouck organized in Belgium in 2012 with approximately one thousand citizens. It is supported with ICT such as online consultation. Consult and advise: internet consultation, citizens’ panel, e-petitions and e-campaigns. In Reykjavik, residents use online platform ‘Better Reykjavik’ to submit monthly ideas to improve the city.
When it concerns co-decision a new group is emerging: citizens themselves (commons), for example in civil budgets.
Referenda: direct democracy. Arranged by law at the national level. At local level, municipalities may themselves make advisory or corrective referenda possible through regulations.
Citizens’ budget: gives citizens the power to decide on a (part of) the budget. A good example where ICT is used on a large scale is Madrid: each year hundreds of millions of the city’s budget is distributed by residents via the online platform ‘Decide Madrid’. https://decide.madrid.es/