Great news! The team over here at the Internet and Democracy project is happy to announce today the release of Three Case Studies From Switzerland, the newest installment in its ongoing set of case studies on the evolving interface between networked technologies and democracy. Headed up by Berkman Center Executive Director Urs Gasser and a team of collaborators at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, this three-part report reviews a variety of experiments happening on all parts of the democratic process. As the report outlines in our Executive Summary, the case study reviews projects affecting:
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.
It is important to note that this report marks a departure from our usual focus in the I&D case studies to date, where activity online was often assessed in conflict with the adversarial efforts of institutions to supress or resist. In contrast, these new studies examine an opposite scenario: a unique political environment in which institutions and networked technologies are actively working together in an effort to enhance democratic governance.
We hope this piece will provoke lively discussion and broaden our understanding of the role technology can play among strong, established democracies. Enjoy! We’re looking forward to any comments or responses you might have.