Rewiring Democracy

Adam Smith Institute has recently published
REWIRING DEMOCRACY: Better e-government for the UK (pdf, 33 pages). It compares e-government efforts in the UK to those in Estonia – and Estonia wins hands down.

In the UK, they note, e-government has been all about enabling electonic access to services – but not about taking advantage of these technologies to enable greater particupation in the democratic process. In effect, the UK is making the common mistake of computerising what we already do, and not thinking about what else is enabled. In Estonia, citizens can go on-line and amend draft legislation.

Why might this matter for Exc-el? Have a look at the conclusions below; what this shows is that developments like Exc-el are significant in making that change. As well as providing a model for education, Exc-el is also modelling the kind of citizen input to the democratic process that the Adam Smith Institute regard as overdue elsewhere in local and national government. Perhaps within ELC we should be thinking of other areas where the Exc-el approach could help?

This is an extract from the Conclusions © Adam Smith Research Trust 2006.

A 5-point action plan

1. e-government in the UK has so far failed due to a lack of clear strategy and
coordination. …

2. e-government is about more than making forms easier and quicker to fill in: it is about
increasing the participation in democracy as a whole. To recast democracy in a way that
involves more people, greater openness must be pursued by abandoning the 30-year
rule and making the decisions taken by the Cabinet and all other government bodies
immediately available to the public.

3. There must be a means by which the public can comment on or even propose
legislation. Only when citizens become more involved in the decisions that shape their
lives will the process of political re-engagement occur.