The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Navarria: e-Petitioning and Representative Democracy: a doomed marriage? - Lessons learnt from the Downing Street e-Petition Website and the case of the 2007 Road-Tax petition

Paper presenter: 
Navarria, G., Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster

The paper questions a conventional line of interpretation of the political relevance of the Internet in democratic countries: if on the one hand new communication media such as the Internet represent a positive element in the fight against the hubris of power; on the other hand, the same technologies can serve the agenda of those who want to influence popular consent in support of questionable politics and, hence, hinder the representative system in its very essence. To elucidate this point, the paper focuses on the Road Tax online‐petition that in the early months of 2007 attracted almost 2 million signatures on the UK Government e‐Petition website. My argument here is that when simple and historical democratic means such as petitions are coupled with the new generation of Web technologies the outcome might be unexpected. The road‐tax petition will serve us as a blue print of: the possibilities embedded in the use of new technologies within representative democratic systems; the challenges they pose for democracy, and their unforeseen consequences.

e‐petitions, e‐democracy, web 2.0., road tax, Britain, Internet, politics
Giovanni Navarria