Digital Opportunities for Democratic Governance in Latin America

The German Development Institute (GDI) and the Swiss Center for Research on Direct Democracy (C2D) are seeking paper submissions for a joint panel to address the topic of Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) and democratic governance in Latin America.

At the beginning of this century, publications analyzing the link between Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and development placed Latin America on the losers? side of the global digital divide. The proposed panel seeks to reassess this judgement by focussing on recent developments in the field of ICT and democratic governance in the region. Despite efforts to introduce democratic governance in Latin America, problems such as corruption and lack of government accountability and transparency persist, consolidating the notion of citizens that their governments? decisions are designed to serve privileged minorities rather than the majority. The spread of ICTs, has opened opportunities for improved governance efficiency and enhanced political participation. ICTs potentially enable governments to improve their performance in terms of transparency and decentralization and provide civil society with alternative strategies for corruption monitoring and political mobilisation. In fact, over the past decade Latin America has seen a number of remarkable initiatives in the field of ICT use for democratic governance, both on the supply and the demand side of democracy. Massive online mobilisations as in the case of the Brazilian Ficha Limpa campaign to combat electoral corruption, e-government service sites such as the Chilean Portal Trámite Facil, and local digital participatory budgeting programs such as Prefeitura SP of Sao Paolo, Brazil, or Participación Vecinal of Miraflores, Peru, are only a few examples.

Papers presented in this panel should empirically explore the impact of ICT on democratic governance in Latin America and the Caribbean. Questions that papers address may include:

  • In how far have digital ICTs in Latin America contributed to:
  • improve relations between governments and citizens?
  • enhance citizen participation in political decision making?
  • foster government accountability and transparency?
  • reduce public administration corruption?
  • enhance local economic and social development?

What efforts have been undertaken by Latin American governments to:

  • promote the mainstreaming of ICT in national development plans and poverty reduction strategies?
  • expand connectivity rates and increase internet penetration rates in remote areas?
  • use ICT?s as a tool to expedite and facilitate public access to information in the possession of the state?
  • enable access to knowledge and capacity building with the use of ICTs among their citizenries including socially and economically disadvantaged groups?
  • In how far has Latin American civil society been able to employ ICT in order to:
  • create alternative mobilization structure for political participation?
  • efficiently fulfill socio-political watchdog’s functions, such as scrutinising the efficiency and effectiveness of public services and holding politicians accountable?
  • open up new spaces of political debate and public deliberation?

If you are interested in presenting a paper as part of this panel, please submit a 250-word abstract by April 25th to: [email protected] or [email protected]

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