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The role of e-democracy in Italy and Hungary

Anna Molnár (Department of International Security Studies, National University of Public Service, Budapest, Hungary)
Anna Urbanovics (Faculty of Public Governance and International Studies, National University of Public Service, Budapest, Hungary)

Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Article publication date: 1 May 2020

Issue publication date: 28 August 2020

427

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the mechanisms behind the development of e-democracy. The contrasting cases of Italy and Hungary are selected as the case studies. With the development of new information and communication technology, more and more elements of domestic politics have been transferred to the internet-based platforms. As a response to the deep financial, economic and political crisis that Europe endured over the period 2010-2015 and as a result of the disappointment with traditional parties, new political movements and parties were created. In this paper, the Italian Five Star Movement (M5S) and the Hungarian Lehet Más a Politika (“Politics Can Be Different”) and Momentum are examined to trace the specific mechanisms that led to their establishment.

Design/methodology/approach

The research is based on mixed method approach, using primary and secondary data to identify and examine mechanisms conducive to the emergence of e-democracy. It uses quantitative analysis along with discourse analysis and social media analysis. The research is based on the analysis of respective parties’ social media communication. The social media analysis has been carried out by the SentiOne social listening software within the time frame of February 2018 and the end of 2019. Along different types of democracy measurements, Italy and Hungary have been analysed between 2017 and 2019.

Findings

The paper identifies the key preconditions for the emergence of e-democracy. These are freedom, gender gap, inequality and corruption. It also then elaborates on mechanisms, such as social media activity and citizen engagement, which lead to the emergence of e-democracy. The thesis of this article is that in Hungary (compared to Italy), elements of high-quality standards for a democracy are still missing to establish a successful political party which uses the sustainable concept for e-democracy. In Hungary, the examined parties use social media only as media representation without exploiting the possibilities lying in social media platforms. They mostly rely on these networking sites during elections and no strong sentiments can be identified in their communication. Italy is a more developed democracy where online platforms are used to engage citizens regularly. M5S actively communicates through these platforms, which is reflected in the amount of comments and strong social media activity even out of election period.

Originality/value

The originality of the paper is the social media analysis to test the use of social media in the parties’ political communication. The paper defines key factors and mechanisms concerning the establishment of e-democracy through inductive analysis of two contrasting cases. Italy and Hungary are two member states of the European Union (EU) with different development, their current preparation and situation regarding e-democracy give insights on how the quality of democracy determines their attitude towards cyber parties. While Italy being a founding member of the EU has become an established democracy, Hungary, after the transition, has developed into a new democracy.

Keywords

Citation

Molnár, A. and Urbanovics, A. (2020), "The role of e-democracy in Italy and Hungary", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 545-560. https://doi.org/10.1108/TG-01-2020-0010

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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