Rosa Borge. From protest to political parties: online deliberation in the new parties arising in Spain

Notes from the research seminar From protest to political parties: online deliberation in the new parties arising in Spain by Rosa Borge, organized by the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute of the Open University of Catalonia, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 20th, 2015.

From protest to political parties: online deliberation in the new parties arising in Spain
Rosa Borge, Eduardo Santamarina

What are the deliberative practices of the two most important parties (Podemos and Barcelona en Comú) that emerged from the 15M Indignados movement in Spain? What trade-offs entail the process of transformation from social movements into political parties? To what extent participation and deliberation could be realized at the same time?

Podemos and Barcelona en comú were founded in 2014. Three months after its foundation, Podemos won 5 seats at the European Parliament, and less than a year after its foundation Barcelona en Comú won the mayoralty of Barcelona.

Internal organization:

  • Anyone can easily register online and participate in important decisions.
  • Open particpiatory spaces at the base of the party: assemblies, high degree of independence, etc.
  • Dominant position of the General Assembly or Plenary.
  • Specific consultation or referendum for important decisions: electoral programme, agreements with other parties, etc.
  • Participatory preparation of the electoral programme and organizational documents.
  • Channelling for individual proposals (Plaza Podemos).
  • Revocation of elected positions.

Developed a theoretical framework for measuring online deliberation, after Kies (2010) and Friess & Eilders (2014):

  • Institutional or structural dimension: technical and structural design of the online platform in order to build a deliberative space: inclusion, asynchronous communication, content visibility, moderation, identification rules, division of labour, relevant information, horizontal interaction, etc.
  • Communicative dimension: deliberative attitude of participants and how the communication process looks like, mainly with relation to the reaction of participants to each other’s ideas: discourse equality, reciprocity, justification, reflexivity, empathy, sincerity, plurality (inclusion).
  • The outcome dimension: results or impact of the deliberation that could be individual or collective (external impact): tolerance, knowledge, efficacy, compromise, preference shift, consensus, legitimacy, impact on political decisions or public debates.

The research analysed the two most voted debates held in the online platform known as Plaza Podemos and the online process of developing the municipal electoral programme of Barcelona en Comú. The three levels (institutional, communicative, outcome) were examined through the deliberative criteria: analysis of the design of the platform and content analysis of the threads of the debates.

Plaza Podemos run on an installation of Reddit; while Barcelona en Comú used DemocracyOS for the deliberation, plus Agora Voting to prioritise and vote the final proposals.

Main conclusions:

  • Both online processes were designed to be both participatory and deliberative spaces. This “procedural duality” seems to lean towards the voting side, becoming a kind of competitive space.
  • Tensions between openness and closeness (a typical tension of a party).
  • Extensive experimentation of new democratic processes: learning by doing.
  • Inducement of a “participatory literacy” among citizens.
  • These processes and the internal structure will be subjected to future changes.

The processes maybe were not optimal, but very much aiming at improving democratic processes.

Discussion

Q: are there facilitators in the platforms? What is their role? Rosa Borge: yes, there are facilitators, which usually do not appear on the front row, and whose role is mainly technical.

Q: how can you assure that you are fulfilling anyone’s expectations? Rosa Borge: we do not know by sure, but the overall sense of the community is of high satisfaction with both the platforms and the results.

Ivan Serrano: after this research, how do we characterize Podemos or Barcelona en Comú? Are they deliberative parties? Aren’t they? Were do they stand between the extreme of being a traditional party and a fully deliberative one? How can they compare one with each other? Rosa Borge: it is difficult to say after our research, as only a few debates were analysed. But, there is enough evidence to say that these parties look different from other more traditional ones. And yes, there is a tension between pure Habermasian deliberation (which aims at consensus) and the need to participate within the constraints of electoral times. Indeed, the idea of consensus is highly criticised by some authors, and that is why it was not included as an indicator for deliberation: there seems not to be that important that there is an agreement at the end of the process (and just vote instead).

Q: how long does it take to become a regular party? Rosa Borge: Everyone is quite surprised with the political success of both Podemos and Barcelona en Comú. What is true is that an initial lack of structures or political organization allows movements to move faster than traditional parties. After that, there is a tension between being operational and being more participative, and the tension is solved with a pendulum movement approaching each side until a balance is reached.

Marc Esteve: what about the tension between consensus and voting? Rosa Borge: lately, the priority is to have a decision or a position after the process of participation and/or deliberation. Thus why in most platforms everything can be voted on the go. Yes, it adds a sort of competition unnatural in a deliberative process, but it also allows to have “something” at the end of the process, and to make the process a finite one, one that won’t last forever.

IDP2015 (IX). Multidisciplinary debate on the challenges of smart cities

Notes from the 11th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: Regulating Smart Cities, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 2-3 July 2015. More notes on this event: idp2015.

Multidisciplinary debate on the challenges of smart cities
Chairs: Marta Continente

Pilar Conesa. Founder and director of Anteverti.

Increasing concentration of people living in urban areas. Areas which are becoming totally saturated and ask for new ways or urban planning. This includes not only transportation, but also public services like education, healthcare, etc. The 19th century was a century of empires, the 20th century was a century of nation states, the 21st century will be a century of cities, Wellington E. Webb.

If we want to develop new cities, new smart cities, we need to know and share the approach behind. This is not trivial and it will determine the model of smart city that will be put into practice.

There is no smart city without a smart government.

Oriol Torruella. Director of the Legal Consultancy Department, CESICAT, Information Security Center of Catalonia

Smart city: improve the efficiency and efficacy of the management of the city, by means of an intensive usage of ICTs.

There are, though, some risks: the vulnerabilities of both software and hardware; the management of the citizen identity; treatment of personal data; affectation to the availability and security of critical infrastructures, etc.

It is crucial that citizens become smart citizens too if they are to be part of a smart city. They have to be aware of all risks of cibersecurity, what are the laws that apply to certain practices and activities, etc.

Ricard Faura. Head of Knowledge Society, Generalitat de Catalunya

The citizen in the smart city, sensor or actor? (Pisani, Datopolis o Particopolis?)

We have to foster some elements through ICTs: participation, organization and collaboration.

For the smart city to be useful for the citizens, one needs to empower the citizens themselves, so that they can be active and critical. But ICTs have to be empowering, not barriers.

Main duties of the government: diffusion, information, awareness raising, training.

The city has to be a real lab where everything is possible and everything can be analysed and improved, and especially fitting the particular needs of the different communities that one finds within the city or across cities.

Discussion

José Luis Rubiés: Is there a risk of an illustrated despotism from the one that manages all these data? Who is the curator of the big data coming from smart cities? Ricard Faura: yes, this is a huge risk. Oriol Torruella: we are just at the dawn of smart cities and, as usually Humanity has done in the past, we work on a trial and error basis: we implement things, realize the risks, try to correct them, and on and on. Little by little we will learn to design better, to avoid risks before we implement, etc.

Q: can we extrapolate initiatives from one place to the other so that we do not have to reinvent the wheel? Marta Continente: yes and no. Yes, one can adapt what worked elsewhere. But the important thing is that ICTs, or whatever initiative on smart cities, are just a toolbox. And, as such, its application or usage will strongly depend on the realities found in each specific city.

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IDP2015 (VIII). Juan José Medina Ariza: Crime Mapping and the Smart City

Notes from the 11th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: Regulating Smart Cities, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 2-3 July 2015. More notes on this event: idp2015.

Smart city, smart policing
Prof. Dr. Dr. Juan José Medina Ariza. Professor of Criminology (University of Manchester)

Security has traditionally been based on a top-down visions, a centralized control room.

Many municipalities have sort of “dashboards” that map the city crime, security issues, socio-economic indicators, etc.

These dashboards aim at locating clusters where more crime takes place, identifying the determinants or correlating factors of that crime, etc. After this clustering and correlations, one can create tools that can try to predict crime, based on trends and simulations. And once crime is “predicted”, then comes “predicted policing”, that aims at stopping crime just before it takes place, going to the place where crime is most likely to happen.

Problems when opening data: What happens when we open the data? How legitimate is its collection? How fair is its analysis?

The risks of Campbell’s law: the more one uses an indicator for decision-making purposes, the less it is useful for decision-making purposes, as it use imprints a bias into the indicator itself.

We know too that in some cases, there are biases in citizens reporting crime: many of them will not be eager to report crime, because this will diminish the value of their real state, because of own security reasons, etc.

What’s next? From predicting hotspots to individual predictions. A growing awareness about the problems with algorithms. Going back to measuring what matters. Privatised criminal justice is not science fiction any longer.

On the other hand, we will maybe see a rise in transparency in what relates to police practices, like stop and search.

There is a problem with profiling with big data, as in the one hand it is built upon evidence, but on the other hand it can strengthen biases, stigmas and prejudices.

Discussion

E.J. Koops: does crime mapping represent reality or constitutes reality? Juan José Medina: this is definitely a problem with mapping that needs being addressed specifically in each and every case.

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IDP2015 (VII). E.J. Koops: Physical and Online Privacy: fundamental challenges for level frameworks to remain relevant

Notes from the 11th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: Regulating Smart Cities, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 2-3 July 2015. More notes on this event: idp2015.

Physical and Online Privacy: fundamental challenges for level frameworks to remain relevant.
Prof. Dr. E.J. Koops. Professor of Regulation & Technology (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society)

Is it legal, or should it be allowed to:

  • Scan homes with termal equipped drones in search of hemp domestic plantations?
  • Take a snapshot of a stranger, google them, recognize their faces, peek at their social networking profiles and start a conversation with them on their preferences?
  • Track people inside shops with wifi-tracking, analyze their movements in the shop and thus place advertising on the counter?

Conceptual history of locating privacy:

  • The body (habeas corpus): physical privacy.
  • The home: physical privacy + private space.
  • The letter: physical privacy + closed ‘space’ between homes.
  • The telephone: ‘closed’ ‘space’ between homes.
  • Mobile phone: ‘closed’ ‘space’.
  • The computer: protecting data, not spaces.
  • The cloud: loss of location.

The home evaporates. There is a lot of information that now one can access without entering a home. And, usually, looking inside without entry is allowed. Same happens now with technology and digital data. The public space is increasingly becoming privacy-sensible: increased traceability, increased identifiability (face recognition, augmented reality)…

And with the trend to improve body functions through implants and prosthesis, the body itself sort of becomes a “public space” as its data (including brain stimuli) can be exported out of the body.

It is increasingly difficult to draw the technical distinction between traffic data and content of communications, particularly on an Internet context. The distinction, indeed, is becoming less relevant, as traffic data are also increasingly privacy-sensitive (location, profiling).

Problems/fallacies:

  • Data protection law cannot give individuals control over their data.
  • Too much confidence in the controller/regulator: the law is becoming too complex.
  • Regulating everything in one statutory law: impossibility for comprehensiveness.

What is privacy?

  • The right to be let alone.
  • Controlling information about oneself.
  • Freedom from judgement of others.
  • Freedom from unreasonable constraints.
  • Depends on the context.

More information

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IDP2015 (VI). Smart cities II

Notes from the 11th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: Regulating Smart Cities, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 2-3 July 2015. More notes on this event: idp2015.

Smart cities II
Chairs: Ismael Peña-López

DCCPP = PRIVACY BY DESIGN Direct Current Communications & Privacy Protocol (DCCPP) proposed for a privacy protective DC Smart Grid
E.M. Wesselingh, P. van Willigenburg, H. Stokman

A new system to manage appliances where privacy is built in by design.

This is a two layer DC smart-grid. The first layer is the home environment with many appliances that use DC electrical energy such as laptops and tablets, smartphones, TVs, LED lights. The second part of the proposed design covers the street-side of the electrical distribution grid. Separating these grids, a higher degree of safety and privacy is enabled.

De-mediation processes and their impact on legal ordering –Lessons l. earned from Uber conflict
Mariona Rosell-Llorens

Some norms regarding ICTs have proven to be ineffective (e.g. intellectual property rights), though some efficacy depends on acceptance. What makes a city smart is to profit from its community’s input. Seems like the grounds of law are disconnected fro current practices. The theory of the legal system is not receptive enough. Better laws need better legal theory.

De-mediation processes and Uber: de-mediation is related with autonomy. ICTs and appservices provide individuals a capacity ofr acting without interference of traditional intermediaries. Autonomy understood in the sense of empowerment, user participation, community building.

But then participants experience law. What happens when participants by-pass the formally enacted law? How participants experience legality thanks to ICTs?

We maybe need a better informed legal theory, based on social grounds. It is not a matter of legitimacy, but a better informed norm. We need more reasonable and sensible laws, “new” conceptual tools.

Barrio Digital [digital neighbourhood]: the way towards the digital city
Manuel Dávila Sguerra

The idea of the project was the creation of a smart city within the Minuto de Dios neighbourhood in Engativá (Bogotá). 1,200 students geolocated data from the neighbourhood. This enabled a next step consisting in adding the “social layer” to the map.

1,075 shoppers where characterized. The shoppers were trained by the students so that they learnt how to use certain devices and access to information.

Augmented reality was used to put services on the map, including cultural venues, so that the citizen could know what was around him, just by using their smartphone on the street.

Courses on digital literacy, especially for disabled people.

Bottom-up vision: the smartest cities are the ones that embrace openness, randomness and serendipity.

Discussion

Ismael Peña-López: how do we tell the difference between adapting the law to fair practices and legalizing unfair behaviours? Mariona Rosell-Llorens: while we should keep safe some important principles, it is also true that society is increasingly complex and, thus, the traditional way of approving a law — mostly with a dominant top-down approach — is outdated and should be complemented with a higher observation (even concurrence) of what happens on the street, a more bottom-up approach.

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IDP2015 (V). E-government and transparency

Notes from the 11th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: Regulating Smart Cities, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 2-3 July 2015. More notes on this event: idp2015.

E-government and transparency
Chairs: Agustí Cerrillo

And open and transparent government paradigm in middle Spanish municipalities: the case of Quart de Poblet
Joaquín Martín Cubas, Laura Juan y Juan Medina Cobo

The open government initiative was about creating a dialogue, between the citizen, the Administration and the political representatives.

The issue of the digital divide has been addressed with a digital literacy programme. A programme that, beyond just literacy, it was aimed at social inclusion.

Open government is transparency, but not just transparency: it is a new organizational model.

Participation in the new open government initiative was inspired by Irekia, the open government platform of the Basque government.

Transparency for the sake of transparency? Or to achieve an open government? An opportunity for innovation in the governance of the university
Gemma Geis Carreras, Annaïs Varo Barranco, Daniel Cantalosella Font

The application of the new Catalan Law on Transparency made the University of Girona decide that they would implement an open government initiative in the university.

The project includes not only knowledge diffusion and accountability, but also opening up platforms and channels for participation.

The new portal also features the electronic seat of the University of Girona, which includes electronic voting features.

Transparen cities, intelligent procurement. Analysis of the impact of ICTs in procurement transparency in municipalities
Jordi Romeu Granados, Gregorio Juárez Rodríguez, Carmen Pineda Nebot

Theoretical framework: public procurement, transparency in public procurement, smart cities.

Analysis of different municipalities and their use of public procurement. 22 indicators that build the ITCA index, including the profile of the public contractor, the ITA 2014 from Transparency International and what applies by the Spanish Transparency Law 19/2013.

Findings say that more transparency in procurement highly correlates with transparency in general, an aim for innovation and work towards a smart city paradigm, etc.

Discussion

Q: what is the cost of such initiatives? Juan Medina: It depends. On the one hand, some infrastructures are expensive. But, on the other hand, changing the way the Administration works and, most especially, changing the attitudes of the public representatives is almost costless. And the impact may be much higher than putting up costly projects without change of attitudes.

Jordi Romeu: there is a problem in measuring open government and it is that measuring usually ends at the output level, and almost never reaches the outcome level.

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About Me

    I am Ismael Peña-López.

    I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia, and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university. Since november 2013 I am on a partial leave to join Open Evidence as a senior researcher and analyst. I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.