The phenomenon of electronic government (e-government), and electronic democracy (e-democracy) more specifically, is a relatively new subject of study. However, with the globalization of Internet use, the deployment of technology to improve democracy has rapidly gained worldwide attention. While scholarly analysis of recent and potential developments in this area covers a diverse range of subjects, we have organized the case studies presented here around three specific examples within the Swiss context that, in turn, map roughly onto three distinct stages of the democratic process. These are:
The pre-voting stage in the first case study of the automated Swiss candidate-voter matching system, Smartvote;
The voting stage itself in our second study on the implementation of electronic voting (e-voting) in Switzerland;
The post-voting phase in our third study on the use of blogs by elected candidates in the Swiss government.
Building upon anecdotal, but substantive evidence, we will assess the actual and potential implications of these uses of the Internet on democratic processes. Although all three studies are examples of preliminary and recent projects, enough evidence was observed to state that, altogether, developing the tools discussed would hold promising opportunities for the citizenry and democracy more broadly in Switzerland. In all three of these case studies we can discern contributions to central principles of the democratic process, namely voter participation and citizen awareness.
Use the links above to download the full Executive Summary and the three case studies.
This set of case studies is part of a series of studies produced by the Internet & Democracy Project, which investigates the impact of the Internet on civic engagement and democratic processes. This set was produced in association with the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.