Over the past decade, digital participation platforms such as LiquidFeedback, Rousseau, and Participa Podemos have allowed emerging European parties such as the German Pirate Party, the Italian Five Star Movement, and the Spanish Podemos, respectively, to enroll members online and consult them on key political decisions, including program and policy proposals. Supported by the development of civic technologies and the rise of new municipalist movements, online deliberation and voting are also making strides with citizen initiatives and participatory budgeting projects in cities such as Paris, Madrid, Barcelona and Reykjavik. Similarly, the parliaments of France, Estonia, Finland, Taiwan and Brazil are involving citizens in the law-making process through sophisticated online consultations.
For all their differences, these innovations suggest that digital media are increasingly allowing ordinary citizens to express their opinion and political will directly, rather than entrusting professional politicians with the task of representing them in toto. Thus the growing integration of digital democracy initiatives within parties, local administrations, and parliaments is slowly changing the relationship between the represented and the representatives—with political and constitutional effects that remain, however, largely unexamined and undetected.
Bridging gaps between academic research and hands-on experience, The Direct Parliament will bring together scholars, software developers, and party activists from Spain, Germany, New Zealand, United States, and Italy to discuss a range of critical questions, including: the political values, or different conceptions of democracy, embedded in the design of participation platforms; the impact of digital democracy initiatives on the relationship between the represented and the representatives; the technological, political, and normative challenges to the extension and wider institutionalization of such initiatives; the transformation of the public sphere; and the changing role of intermediary bodies such as political parties.