Digital Citizens want to engage with politicians - passive democracy is not enough
People want online tools which allow them to participate and engage with politicians rather than having a passive, broadcast-only relationship with them, says the Hansard Society. The internet has made it easier for Britons online to take part in civic and political activities and half of them prefer to use the internet to take part in democratic life.
'Digital citizens and democratic participation: An analysis of how citizens participate online and connect with MPs and Parliament' finds that 70% of respondents agree that the internet makes it easier for them to participate in civic and political activities.
* 49% agree that they would generally prefer to use the internet to participate in civic and political activities;
* Age is not a barrier to digital engagement when it comes to contacting one's elected representative;
* People aged 55-64 are the age group most likely to contact their MP online (54% did so), and people aged 18-34 were more likely to use the telephone (including mobiles and texting) than any other age group.
Among the digital leaders group, the majority (69%) used the internet or email to contact their MP. They use websites, Twitter and blogs to contact or keep informed about their MP. They would most like to see MPs embracing online tools that allow for conversation and opportunities to engage with citizens. Finally, the group wanted accurate, up-to-date, available information and open data standards which would make data accessible for individuals and groups to use.
Andy Williamson, director of the Hansard Society eDemocracy Programme, said that citizens do not want the passive, broadcast-only relationship with their MPs that has existed until now; "they wish to communicate and engage, to track and contribute to the democratic debate".
"Higher levels of engagement and wider participation in the democratic process will happen when citizens feel that they are a central part of it. This presents a challenge for parliament - both for MPs and the House authorities."
Digital citizens and democratic participation: An analysis of how citizens participate online and connect with MPs and Parliament