will parliament survive the digital era

agendaMai 2017
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The 21st century democracy in Europe is in dire straits. Citizens feel disconnected with politics, and a growing distrust has in 2014 led to the lowest participation in European elections ever. According to the latest Eurobarometer, a staggering 54% of citizens thinks that their voice doesn’t count in the EU. Democracy seems overdue for a profound upgrade. How can we reverse the erosion ?

Our digitizing society forms a fertile breeding ground for citizens to get organized in innovative ways, and gain more power to influence and even co-create policy decisions that affect their lives. Digital initiatives like online knowledge centres and participation platforms are popping up all over Europe. What is the potential of these technologies to transform and rethink democracy ? What are the threats ? And how can local governments anticipate to this growing tendency ?

(W)E-Democracy takes a look from different angles at promising (citizen) initiatives who employ digital tools to strengthen democracy. We invite Léa Caillère to talk about young greens in action against mass surveillance. Lina Dencik from Cardiff University will present a study on citizen rights in a digitized society. We then discuss two successful online platforms : CitizenLab, introduced to us by founder Wietse Van Ransbeeck and DemocracyOS France, presented by its President Caroline Corbal. Next, Xabier E. Barandiaran and Arnau Monterde, driving forces behind Decidim Barcelona, will share their experiences with open democracy on city level. Last but not least, Imade Annouri, Green Member of Flemish Parliament, and Dóra Björt Guðjónsdóttir, Chair of the Young Pirates in Iceland, will reflect on the possibilities of e-democracy for political parties.

Free entrance. Registration required. Click here.


13:00 Introduction (Dirk Holemans)
13:20 Young Europeans fighting surveillance (Lea Caillere)
13:40 Citizen rights in a digital era (Lina Dencik)
14:25 - Digital participation : CitizenLab (Wietse Van Ransbeeck)
- Digital commons : DemocracyOS (Caroline Corbal)
15:20 break
15:35 E-democratic cities : Decidim Barcelona (Xabier E. Barandiaran and Arnau Monterde)
16:20 Digital parties - closing panel (Dóra Björt Guðjónsdóttir and Imade Annouri)
17:00 closing drink

This thinking day is organised by the Green European Foundation with the support of Oikos and with the financial support of the European Parliament. It will be livestreamed by Fondation Ecologique Politique in Paris, CDN in Belgrade and Fundacia Strefa Zieleni in Warsaw.

Lea Caillere is an active member of the French Young Greens (Les Jeunes Ecologistes). She became international officer of the Federation in 2015-2016 and is currently working as policy and legal analyst for a digital rights organisation in France.

Lina Dencik is Senior Lecturer at Cardiff’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and serves as Director for the MA Journalism, Media and Communications and the newly established Data Justice Lab. She focuses on the areas of digital surveillance and the politics of data and worked on the ESRC-funded project Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society.

Wietse Van Ransbeeck is the founder of CitizenLab, a digital platform that connects municipalities with their citizens through an easy accessible interface. CitizenLab empowers citizens to participate in their government’s policy-making by sharing their proposals and voting for/against them. Already over 25 cities use CitizenLab to strenghten their local democracy for the digital age

Caroline Corbal is president of the DemocracyOS France association, an Open Source online consultation platform created in Argentina in 2012 and now used by major official institutions and civil society projects in more than 10 different countries. She also co-founded the Open Democracy Now ! project to foster synergies between Free and Open Source civic-tech projects.

Xabier E. Barandiaran currently works on Democratic Innovation at the RTD Department of the Barcelona City Council, where he leads the project Decidim.Barcelona. He is a philosopher working at the multidisciplinary crossroad between cognitive sciences, technology and complex systems. He has long been involved in hacktivism, technopolitics, and the (re)production of commons and free knowledge.

Arnau Monterde is Doctor on Information and Knowledge Society at Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) of UOC and a member of Datanalysis15M research network. He is also researcher on collective network-movement dynamics, their emergency, intensive network uses, their evolution and their impact on society.

Dóra Björt Guðjónsdóttir is the Chair of the Young Pirates of Iceland and ran for Parliament in Iceland in 2016. She is educated in international studies and philosophy in Norway and Germany and now works temporarily for Pirate MEP Julia Reda at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Imade Annouri is Green Member of Flemish Parliament and board member of the Young Greens in Belgium. He recently contributed to a resolution for an inclusive and sustainable digital agenda for Flanders in the context of increasing automation and artifical intelligence in society.

Dirk Holemans is coordinator of Oikos, a Belgian think-tank that aims for social-ecological change. Building an ecological economy and inspiring new citizens initiatives (commons) is at the heart of the organisation’s activities. He is author of the book ‘Freedom & Security’ (2016, in Dutch).