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RSA Winter Conference Multi-channel governance and Electronic Democracy Leslie Budd and Ivan Horrocks EGOV4U Research Team Open University, UK Paper presented.

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Presentation on theme: "RSA Winter Conference Multi-channel governance and Electronic Democracy Leslie Budd and Ivan Horrocks EGOV4U Research Team Open University, UK Paper presented."— Presentation transcript:

1 RSA Winter Conference Multi-channel governance and Electronic Democracy Leslie Budd and Ivan Horrocks EGOV4U Research Team Open University, UK Paper presented at the Regional Studies Association Winter Conference Contested Regions: Territorial Politics and Policy London, 25 th November 2011

2 Introduction and Issues From eGovernance to Multi-channel Governance? Habermas’ Communicative Action and Bourdieu’s Capitals; The limits of Multi-Level Governance in re-structuring the Public Domain; The trajectory of Post-socialism to Post-Democracy to reclaiming legitimate governance of socio-economic spaces; The Better Reykjavik EGOV4U Case and its wider implication for e-Democracy; Conclusions and conjectures? RSA Winter Conference

3 eGovernance to Multi-Channel Governance? The elastic concept of governance as: “attributing public status to institutions which have been incorporated into governing arrangements over a number of policy domains.” to the equally ‘stretchy’ eGovernance as: “the public sector’s use of information and communications technologies with the aim of improving information and service delivery, encouraging citizen participation in the decision-making process and making government more accountable, transparent and effective.” (UNESCO, 2005). BUT, discourses on “Reinventing government” New Public Management (NPM) New Public Governance (NPG). Network Governance (NG) and Digital-Era Governance (DEG) pursue a functionalist and technicist approach to the promise of ICT as enabler of restructuring the public domain which focuses on the transactional basis of operating efficiencies (transactional economies). In the case of Multi-Channel Governance the transformational basis of integrating and re-inserting socially excluded groups into civil society using a number of ICT service delivery channels (transformational economies) which is the main driver of EGOV4U


5 Integrating Habermas with Bourdieu RSA Winter Conference Communicative action, is the concept in which actors in society seek to reach common understanding and to coordinate actions by reasoned argument, consensus, and cooperation rather than strategic action strictly in pursuit of their own goals. BUT, lack a theory of power in can be filled by integrating Bourdieu’s forms of capitals in the context of the governance of ‘Habitus’ in multi-channel settings Capitals: Human: collective knowledge and skills (technology specific and technology independent); Social: (bonding, bridging, linking); Organisational: processes; managerial and governance structures of community; Environmental: digital and non-digital amenities that facilitate co-production of outcomes and impacts; Infrastructural: ICT and related infrastructure, including ‘back-office’ systems; Financial: individual and collective financial resources; Reputational: Trust and recommendation (underpinned by transparency, security, privacy); democratic endorsement.

6 Community Capitals RSA Winter Conference HABITUS Organisational capital Social capital Infrastructural capital Financial capital Human capital Reputational capital Environmental capital Taken together, Community Capitals constitute a ‘Habitus’ that bounds the attainment of sustainability and cohesiveness for a community. Effective policy interventions are those that ‘enlarge’ the Habitus. Habitus is defined as a socio- cultural space in which individuals acquire patterns of thought, behaviour, and taste as the components of social practice (or social action) by which they negotiate the social structures of modern societies. Thus Habitus can exist in real and virtual spaces

7 The limits of Multi-level Governance RSA Winter Conference Multi-level governance characterizes the changing relationships between actors situated at different territorial levels and from public, private and voluntary sectors…. Most specifically, multi-level governance crosses the traditionally separate domains of domestic and international politics to highlight the increasingly blurred distinction between these domains in the context of European integration. (Bache, 2005, 5). Two types can be distinguished: 1.Akin to federalism, this consists of limited and non-overlapping jurisdictions within a restricted number of territorial levels. The focus is on specific governmental purposes rather than a set of policies or issues; 2. Is a more complex and fluid type that consists of a larger number of overlapping and flexible jurisdictions. The focus is much more on specific policy sectors and issues …... Like most governance structures there is a tendency to instability as the policy environment alters, but it is designed to seek optimal decision-making (Hooge and Marks, 2004). According Clarke this approach limits the multi-ness of governance to vertically and hierarchically structured territorial and administrative scales. Thus the possibilities of Type 2 is constrained by the transactional nature of post-bureaucratic treatments of the public domain (eg NPM and DEG) Thus the possibilities of the transformational nature of eGovernance to open up opportunities for eParticipation and eDemocracy are limited to transactional gains in governmental efficiencies

8 Post-socialism into Post-Democracy? RSA Winter Conference Post-socialism as the study of the transition of formerly Communist societies is a rather inchoate conception that tends to aggregate complex and manifold interactions. The technocratic appeal of market transformations in these and associated societies is based upon the apparently rational and technocratic logic of this form of socio-economic organisation. Yet this logic leads directly to Post-Democracy : That is, representing a critical and problematic interpretation which assigns to the new media and ICTs a role not of re-launching and revitalising direct and collective participation in democratic life, but on the contrary as a further factor of fragmentation and social inequality (the "digital divide"), within a growing transformation of social subjects into information consumers instead of into more informed citizens. (Crouch 2003). Opens up the possibility for exploring representative and accountable forms of eDemocracy through the agency of Multi-Channel Governance which is explored in the case of Reykjavik

9 Iceland and Reykjavik - Statistics  The population of Iceland (2010): 317,593  Population of Reykjavik: 118,427 = 38% of the population of Iceland  ‘Greater’ Reykjavik (shaded triangle on the map above): 200,852 = 63% of the population of Iceland  Average population growth 0.9% per annum.  A little over 8% of the population of Reykjavik are foreign citizens  Internet access extremely high (100% 16-24, over 70% and growing for the above 65 age group RSA Winter Conference

10 From boom to bust  Strong economic expansion 2003 – 2007 (mainly aluminum and banking)  Banks - summer 2008 branches in 10 countries, “assets” 100% of GDP 2000, 800% of GDP 2007  Capital inflow ensured a strong króna  Asset prices reached record heights  Building activity was brisk and housing prices doubled in real terms  2007 - average income $70,000 – 5 th highest in the world  Unemployment was around 1% in 2007 (1.3% in September 2008)  2008 - October  Banking and currency crisis – the size of the commercial banks made it impossible for the Central Bank of Iceland to exercise its role as a lender of last resort  Three largest banks collapse - Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority takes control. Each of the banks divided into two entities: ‘old’ (international) and ‘new’ (domestic) bank.  Currency restrictions and capital movement curbed – krona depreciates by 46% against Euro  Average gross national income fell by 50% in six months  Unemployment rises to 9% by April 2009. It remains above 8% RSA Winter Conference

11 Responsibility for economic crash – all voters 2009 (Scale 0-10, 0 = no responsibility, 10 = very great responsibility) RSA Winter Conference

12 Consequences and responses – government  Reduced revenue from income tax as a result of increased unemployment  Collapse in the building industry drastically reduced the expected revenue from the sale of building plots  Increased demand for social services because of increased unemployment  Collapse of the currency  Inflation increased costs by 10-30%  The cost of paying down loans in foreign currencies almost doubled Responses – Reykjavik Municipality  Secure basic services for citizens with unchanged user-fees  No layoffs/redundancy for the City’s permanent employees – but wages were lowered for city officials, politicians and specialists. Lower wages were protected.  A halt was put on hiring new employees – with a review board to oversee all new appointments  International relations were cut and all overseas travel required approval from City Hall RSA Winter Conference

13 Consequences and responses: political 1 Interest in politics 1983-2009 RSA Winter Conference

14 Consequence and responses: political 2 Historic elections in 2009 and 2010 National - 2009 Conservatives (Independence Party) not largest party at the polls for the first time Social Democrats and left-socialists able to form a two-party majority coalition for the first time Coalition formation: party block(s) for the first time since the 1960s Local - 2010 The economic crash - harms the Independence Party, Progressive Party, Social Democrats Government participation - harms the Social Democrats and Left Greens Strength of this effect differs between communes RSA Winter Conference

15 Consequences and responses – political 3 Local elections 2010: Vote for the four established parties in 4 largest communes: 2006: 92.0% 2010: 66.8% Winners: Best party (Reykjavík) Second best party (Kópavogur) L-list (Akureyri) ‘...the Best Party is a liberal and honest party influenced by Scandinavian ideas, working steadily for social reform and the solution of common tasks on an equal rights basis. We neither smoke nor drink alcohol. We want to create a community etter than other parties!” And the second best party: “Let this election be about consensus, justice and fairness. Let’s give the useless, corrupt and boring parties a leave of absence for four years.... The Second Best Party offers an alternative in Kópavogur. It stands open to all, irrespective of political opinions, place of residence, colour, gender, sexuality, religion or which English football club you support.” RSA Winter Conference

16 Reykjavík 2010 (%): vote intention by gender and Percentage of the parties’ 2006 voters voting for Best Party ( Gallup, before election 2010) RSA Winter Conference

17 Reykjavik political structure  The City Council consists of 15 representatives, elected every fourth year.  Last elections were on the 29 th of May 2010 and voter turnout was 73.4%  Current members represent the following parties: Best Party, Independence Party., Progressive Party, Social Democrats, Red/Greens  The City Council is the highest authority in the city and holds regular meetings twice a month  Council meetings are open to the public and are broadcast on the city’s website and on the radio.  The City Executive Board has, together with the Mayor, executive and fiscal authority in the City of Reykjavík  The board has 7 members elected from among members of the City Council for 1 year terms RSA Winter Conference

18 Better Reykjavik: early development Prior to the 2008 crash Iceland was committed to EU membership and strong movement to adopt the Euro Post 2008 support for joining the EU fell and membership of the Eurozone became impossible The emergence of a general movement in Iceland to reclaim democracy for citizens (i.e. from economic actors), reinvent/reinvigorate representative democracy from the bottom up (e.g. an elected Constitutional Council to review the constitution) An early version of Better Reykjavik (i.e. a web portal) used by the Best Party in their 2010 election campaign Subsequently used during negotiations to form a coalition to govern Reykjavik by the Best Party and Social Democrats to collect ideas and suggestions from citizens about what the parties policy priorities should be. Promise given that Better Reykjavik would be used as an online consultative forum: aim – to promote consensus based decision making leading to an increase in trust in politicians and thus reinvigorate representative democracy RSA Winter Conference

19 Better Reykjavik: current operation The five most supported suggestions each month are put on the agenda of the relevant political committee. The most supported suggestion in a specific policy area (11 plus ‘other’ e.g. tourism. education, transport, environment) Launched 19 th October 2011; 10,000 unique users; 200 ideas by 31 st October - 16 reviewed by committees with decisions posted on the Better Reykjavik web site. Examples: Integration of the whole capital area into one municipality Presented at the City Council (17 November, 2011) Resume Laugarvegur street as pedestrian shopping street with tourists in mind ferdamenn-i-huga Presented at the Culture and Tourism committee (14 November 2011 ferdamenn-i-huga Set up facilities for young graffiti artists. Presented at the Culture and Tourism committee (14 November 2011) RSA Winter Conference

20 Conclusions and Conjectures After the banking crash of 2008 Icelandic political developments – party political, constitutional and technological (i.e. multi-channel) - represent early examples of citizens’ attempts to create more democratic spaces and take control of their community capitals by seeking to: Reclaim democratic governance from corporate influence and control Relocate policy and decision making back to national and local governments Reengage citizens in grass roots politics and policy making Reinvent a belief in politics Renew trust in politicians Since the emergence of the Icelandic examples similar global/local developments that seek to pursue similar aims - and thus develop new democratic/governance channels - include: The Pirate Party (15 seats Berlin State and one Swedish MEP since 2009) - The global #Occupy movement UK Uncut and similar groups (e.g. United States, Australia, etc) RSA Winter Conference

21 Conjectures Does Better Reykjavik and similar multi channel approaches to governance open up the possibility of more democratic space as citizens take control of their community capitals and thus (re)define their habitus (?) Or are they simply the most recent examples of the emergence of ‘two-tier democracy’: ‘big’ democracy – concerned with policy and decision-making at national and international level (witness Italy, Greece, Spain – democracy ‘suspended’ by ‘the market’ – governance by technocrat/technocracy) ‘small’ democracy – where ordinary citizens try to make a difference in terms of the quality of their everyday life. RSA Winter Conference

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