Can Social Media Enrich Democracy?

Whether it's informing the electorate or providing direct access to the legislative process, there are many experiments that pair online tools and representative politics.

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  1. With Turkey's general election set for June 12th, a team of Turkish political scientists worked in partnership with a Dutch programme called Vote Compass to expose citizens to different party platforms.

  2. Vote Compass is an online tool which allows users to find the party which most closely matches their own views on a range of political, social and economic issues.
  3. While few voters have the time to study a party's manifesto in detail, Vote Compass helps them cut straight to the parties' positions on the issues they care about, said Ali Carkoglu, a professor of political science at Istanbul's Koc University and the project's lead analyst.
  4. The Stream spoke with Nuh Yilmaz, a commentator on Turkish media and politics, about Vote Compass and his own results.
  5. Nuh Yilmaz Talks with The Stream
  6. Other online projects aim to connect citizens directly to their representatives.

  7. In Israel, a new political party called Hayeshira says it will use the "wisdom of the crowds" to form its positions. The party's site uses online polls to choose leaders and stances on upcoming bills in the Knesset.

  8. Direct the party is conducted by you - who choose and voters, in cooperation with you. You navigate the party, turn it which promote bills and how to vote in the Knesset plenum, the various committees and the cabinet table
  9. Hayeshira's Facebook page claims that it will run in the next elections, and that Knesset Members will only serve a technical role, referring to the results of polls each day to decide their positions in the legislature.

  10. In Bhutan the leader of the opposition used his Facebook page to solicit supporters' thoughts on what to discuss in the national assembly.

  11. Obviously, I can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to attend to all your questions. But I will guarantee that we’ll do our best.
  12. Thank you for your suggestions. We – Dasho Damcho and I – will see how we can incorporate them in our discussions in the Parliament and the National Assembly. We’ll do our best.
  13. Whether or not these initiatives will actually extend democracy is limited by the percent of citizens with internet access. For example, only seven percent of Bhutan's population is on Facebook.

  14. Social media has also been used in recent elections to help citizens vote strategically in countries with many political parties.

  15. For Canada's 2011 federal election, a site called Project Democracy allowed people to see the predicted winners for their district.

  16. Project Democracy is a tool to help you determine if there is a way to "amp up" your vote and stop a Harper majority. By using a riding by riding election prediction model based on the most up to date public opinion polls, we can tell you which Party is best positioned to defeat the Conservative in your riding.
  17. Strategic voting in Canada
    Strategic voting in Canada
  18. Another site called Pair Vote helped people to swap their votes when their preferred party had no chance of winning in their district. Here's how it works:

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