Specific Research Projects  Re-juvenating Democracy New Technology-related Options

 

Contemporary democracies are confronted with a serious paradox: The democratic governments have to withstand the complexity of policies, strategies and decision-making in the era of globalization and to find solutions for the huge challenges at the beginning of 21st century: poverty, energy resources, climate change, migration, proliferation and the regulation of the world financial markets. However, the best brains are often no longer prepared and motivated to engage for apparently opaque and tedious (party) politics, while an increasing number of voters disregard their right to vote or support radical movements and anti-democratic groups who indulge in black and white thinking and prove once again the suicidal tendencies of democracy itself. Hence, a broad extension of communication channels between voters and elected representatives, people and parties is necessary as well as the recruitment of new intellectual capabilities for democracy and the improvement of both vertical accountability and political participation.

Our research project Rejuvenating Democracy – New Technology-related Options aims to utilize the means and capacities of modern IT at four different but complementary levels:

- Visualizing complex political problems and decision-making processes

- Detecting the need for political reforms and debating (the consistency and coherency of) political positions and alternatives

- Creating and conceptualizing virtual simulations, trials and applications to re-attract the ,res publica‘ to both elites and masses

- Fostering data-based governmental and intergovernmental learning

Reflecting the risk that neither digital divide nor binary codes may undermine the complexity and dialectics of democratic politics, policies and polities, the research project includes four pillars which are supposed to stabilize the construct of democracy mutually:

The effort of creating an eAgora as the core of rejuvenating democracy emphasises on allowing for a new type of a high-quality, fascinating, in-depth discussion of the big, structural challenges to our societies. New forms of higher resolution online voting are subsequent options. But initially, the focus is on a fundamentally improved quality of political discourse and on the opportunity to articulate own preferences in a more detailed manner as hitherto. Different themes and issues are debated in a moderated, visual reasoning format and everybody can precisely add to the current discussions.

The Virtual Party simulation is an interactive application where participants are shaping virtual processes of pursuing and achieving goals, defining the boundaries of partisan loyalism or managing selected political crises and transitions. Correspondingly, they are able to vitalize their strategic, organisational and argumentation skills and to make the important experience of legitimacy by procedure.

In addition, our research project provides a conceptual and technological framework for the succeeding development of a comprehensive program in democratic education practised in schools, universities and other learning communities. Furthermore, the implementation of particular pilot reform efforts in the range of local politics could become part of the venture as well.

Finally, John Dewey?s concept of democracy as an evolutionary project gives the Parmenides Foundation an inspiring example how to combine interdisciplinary theoretical approaches with the state-of-the-art to a laboratory of democracy as a permanent task and innovative environment for enhancing democratic theories and practises by new ideas, applied research, trial and error and learning by doing.

Research Leader: PD Dr. Oliver Hidalgo

Chief Executive: Dr. Andreas F. Ströhle