Understanding the rise of e-participation in non-democracies: Domestic and international factors

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Type of work: Article (academic)

Categories:

e-Democracy | e-Government | Participation

Abstract:

While it has often been suggested that information and communication technologies (ICTs) provide an important means of increasing citizen participation (which is at the core of democratic government), few commentators have expected non-democracies to create online environments in which citizens can take an active part in political processes. In recent years, however, some non-democracies have begun to outperform countries with long-standing democratic traditions in terms of e-participation development. According to the 2010 United Nations (UN) e-government survey, Bahrain outranks France, Kazakhstan beats Sweden and Malaysia ranks higher than Germany. This article sets out to understand the recent rise of e-participation initiatives in non-democracies. Drawing on comparative longitudinal data from the UN e-government surveys, we tested the assertion that international drivers of change are competing with the dominant focus on domestic factors, especially in the non-democratic world, and are influencing the patterns of reform. The empirical analysis demonstrated important differences between the drivers of change in democratic and non-democratic countries and found economic globalization to be the strongest predictor of e-participation initiatives in non-democratic countries. In conclusion, we argue that economic globalization alters the context of e-participation and necessitates a re-examination of many of its premises and tenets.