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Primary Elections in Palermo: a Case Study Jesse Marsh Atelier Studio Associato [email_address]
eDemocracy? <ul><li>Top-down approaches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical applications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Improv...
Political Situation ELECTORAL DEFEATS, SPONTANEOUS CITIZENS’ MOVEMENTS, HISTORICAL ANTI-MAFIA GROUPS, MULTI-PARTY COALITIO...
Primary Elections? <ul><li>A novelty </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Much discussed in Italy, rarely implemented </li></ul></ul><ul>...
Province of Palermo ELECTIONS FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE PROVINCE, 25-26 MAY 2003 POPULATION: 1.233.768 (PALERMO, 679.290); ...
An Opportunity? <ul><li>Promote the unity of the centre-left coalition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work together towards a commo...
Approach Adopted <ul><li>Set up a network of “Democracy Points” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Existing structures: party or union ...
Operational Proposal <ul><li>The Democracy Point </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-registration (open to all) via Web </li></ul><...
Debate REACHING AGREEMENT BETWEEN MOVEMENTS AND PARTIES
Negotiation <ul><li>Estimated turonout: 20,000 voters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>200 Democracy Points x 100 registrees each </l...
Active Democracy Points THE RANGE OF STRUCTURES AND PLACES ALREADY REGISTERED
What Happened <ul><li>Democracy Points register over 1.700 delegates in one week </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Parties scramble to...
Aftermath <ul><li>Elections lost </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Centre-left candidate takes 36,5% vs. 60,3% of centre-right </li></...
Conclusions <ul><li>Specific nature of primary elections with a multi-party coalition </li></ul><ul><li>Work with politica...
Open Questions <ul><li>The nature of political credibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mixture between human trust and technical...
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Primary Elections in Palermo: A Case Study

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Case Study presented first at the eChallenges 2003 conference in Bologna and then at the 16th Bled (SI) Conference on 10 June 2003

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Primary Elections in Palermo: A Case Study

  1. 1. Primary Elections in Palermo: a Case Study Jesse Marsh Atelier Studio Associato [email_address]
  2. 2. eDemocracy? <ul><li>Top-down approaches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical applications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Improvements of existing voting procedures </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Objectives: increase turnout, save money </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Theoretical elaborations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dynamics of participation, debate, access to information </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Objectives: develop new models of IST-based democracy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Hands-on, case-study approach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Link up with actual political processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Political commitment and involvement in local debate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Objective: provide on-demand technical support </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generalise outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Link up with similar initiatives, share results </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Objective: spread best practice </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Political Situation ELECTORAL DEFEATS, SPONTANEOUS CITIZENS’ MOVEMENTS, HISTORICAL ANTI-MAFIA GROUPS, MULTI-PARTY COALITION DYNAMICS
  4. 4. Primary Elections? <ul><li>A novelty </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Much discussed in Italy, rarely implemented </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Result of shift from proportional to majority system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key question of selection of candidates </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Who? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reference model (USA) holds primaries within one party </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What about an 8-10 party coalition? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A “coordination of citizen movements” proposes to organize </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New criteria </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Low cost, speed of implementation, flexibility of rules </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Political “believability” more than technical reliability </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Province of Palermo ELECTIONS FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE PROVINCE, 25-26 MAY 2003 POPULATION: 1.233.768 (PALERMO, 679.290); ELIGIBLE VOTERS: 1.075.462 DENSITY: 247,14 Pop/Km2 (PALERMO, 4.275,49) 82 MUNICIPALITIES (POPULATION CONCENTRATED ALONG THE COAST)
  6. 6. An Opportunity? <ul><li>Promote the unity of the centre-left coalition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work together towards a common objective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increase citizen participation, overcome political divisions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contribute to the debate on primary elections </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beyond theoretical essays: “Just do it” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gain attention of national and European observers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Experiment with old and new tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Simplify communication: redundancy of mail-lists, web sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prototype “cheap and quick” voting systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explore acceptability for people and politicians </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Approach Adopted <ul><li>Set up a network of “Democracy Points” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Existing structures: party or union seat, voluntary association, professional office, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Future nodes in a stable network for democratic participation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Web service </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Supporting democracy point activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allowing for distributed voting throughout the territory </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Special challenges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unique voter registration, anonymity of vote </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Security of Internet environment, trust in administrators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Defense against attempts at political manipulation </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Operational Proposal <ul><li>The Democracy Point </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-registration (open to all) via Web </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-control among randomly selected proponents; approval and authorisation with 5 out of 7 approvals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Three options for voting procedures: on-line, batch entry, squad support </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Candidate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-registration (open to all) with any Democracy Point </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>500 voter approvals to become official candidate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Voter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Registration with any Democracy Point </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subsequent access to documents, profiles, voting etc. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Debate REACHING AGREEMENT BETWEEN MOVEMENTS AND PARTIES
  10. 10. Negotiation <ul><li>Estimated turonout: 20,000 voters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>200 Democracy Points x 100 registrees each </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Numerical strength and open system: shock to parties </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Parties’ counter-proposal for a “convention” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>450 Elected representatives of the coalition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>450 Selected by parties with representational division </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>450 Members of “civil society” (e.g. unions, associations, movements) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Compromise solution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Democracy Points register voters (paying € 3 each) for a set period (one week) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parties provide lists of an equal total, plus the elected </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debate on platform and voting occurs in a 2-day convention </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Active Democracy Points THE RANGE OF STRUCTURES AND PLACES ALREADY REGISTERED
  12. 12. What Happened <ul><li>Democracy Points register over 1.700 delegates in one week </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Parties scramble to match number, providing (and changing) lists until the last moment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coalition parties agree on a single “unitary” candidate the night before the Convention </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Movements forced to propose leading figure as alternative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Less than half of registrees actually vote </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Woman candidate gains 300 signatures, to then withdraw </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Party choice wins by only 5% margin </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Party candidate called into question on political background </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Movements decide to procede anyway </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Movements’ candidate becomes Vice-Presidential nominee </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Aftermath <ul><li>Elections lost </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Centre-left candidate takes 36,5% vs. 60,3% of centre-right </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improvement over previous elections, gains better in Palermo city centre than in outlying province </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centre-left parties sing victory, hail method of primaries </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Coordination of Movements” integrated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Key players now engaged in parties’ political processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Convention” accepted as end solution, not just first step </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Potential energy of Movements” remains </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Regrouping of original participants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commitment to carry forward distributed and open eDemocracy solution for primaries </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Conclusions <ul><li>Specific nature of primary elections with a multi-party coalition </li></ul><ul><li>Work with political processes provides structurally new alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Specific technical challenges addressable within time and money constraints </li></ul><ul><li>Significant political implications: new role of citizen in eDemocracy processes </li></ul><ul><li>Resistance to change by parties hampers political innovation </li></ul>
  15. 15. Open Questions <ul><li>The nature of political credibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mixture between human trust and technical reliability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Believability” of systems that people can not understand </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Citizens, ICT and democracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are people actually willing to invest in learning to use tools? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to address the local “digital divide”; is it technical or cultural? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How many people actually vote freely anyway? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Political movements and political parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can citizens’ movements do without political organisation? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can we make / help political parties really address and overcome their crisis of representation? </li></ul></ul>

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