Social networks, blogs, and online media offer citizens access to public life in an unprecedentedly direct way. Is the internet revolutionising democratic practice?

This topical question will be raised this year during the World Forum for Democracy, organised by the Council of Europe with the support of the French government, the Alsace Region and the City of Strasbourg.

Over the past few years, internet has become a stimulating space for democratic innovation. Every day, participatory websites are created by parliaments, governments and local authorities, allowing citizens to contribute directly to decision-making processes, to debate political options in real-time, and thus to influence the decisions made by their representatives. Is this an answer to the so-called ‘crisis of politics’ which manifests itself through citizens’ disaffection from political parties and representative institutions?

Should these new online forms of public participation be simply considered as technological advances or do they demand, on the contrary, to re-define democracy? The rapid growth of internet challenges the traditional functioning of representative democracy, but does it lay the foundations of a “democracy 2.0”? Do our institutions, political parties and modes of political participation need to be reshaped accordingly?

Members of civil society, elected officials, political leaders and journalists from more than 100 countries have come together in Strasbourg for the second edition of the World Forum for Democracy. They have discussed these trends and assessed not only the opportunities they bring but also the possible risks they carry for our fundamental freedoms. Is there a digital remedy for democracy in bad health?

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