The Institute of Advanced Studies (ISA) of Europe’s oldest university, the University of Bologna, Italy, organised a workshop on “The Future of Democracy” [report in Italian] on 3 November 2016. The workshop’s objective was to start an activity on the topic of democracy and participation. Such initiative is by its nature multidisciplinary, involving mathematics, computer science, social psychology, and political science. Experts from Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, and the Netherlands met at this workshop.
Andreas Nitsche, board member of the Association for Interactive Democracy, presented the project LiquidFeedback which is a part of the WeGovNow project. He talked on how technology can be applied to provide a fully self organized proposition development and decision-making process. He elaborated on challenges and solutions for a fair democratic process: collective moderation, minority protection, dealing with noisy minorities, preferential voting and verifiability. He also informed about LiquidFeedback's involvement in the WeGovNow project: its new geo-spatial approach and the upcoming integration with community engagement, information, participation and e-government platforms across Europe.
The background of the workshop was that the participation in political decision processes appears to be less and less appealing in Europe, particularly among young people. For multiple reasons: lack of trust in institutions, unsatisfactory outcomes of elections, feeling of being unable to affect how the system works. This is also a challenge WeGovNow seeks to counteract by increasing participation and reducing current tendencies to turn European democracies dysfunctional.