Digital political participation in the Swiss cantons: The midfield is catching up
Institutional Communication Service
12 October 2022
The DigiPart Index records the extent to which it is possible to participate digitally in political processes in Switzerland's cantons on a scale of 0 to 100. In the second year of its survey, the average score across all cantons is still relatively low, but rose from 31 to 33 points. The ranking of the cantons shows that digital participation in political processes can be improved in all cantons. At the same time, the cantons in the lower midfield are catching up and competing with the cantons at the top. This is due, on the one hand, to small, gradual improvements in all areas covered by the index and, on the other hand, to a certain instability regarding the supply and use of tools in the "participation" dimension.
Digital political participation increasingly complements analogue forms of political participation. Elements of the political process such as dialogue, consultation, participation, and voting and elections in the digital space are becoming increasingly important. This is because they correspond to the new digital lifestyles and experiences of increasingly broad sections of the population. Accordingly, the Centre for Democracy Aarau (ZDA), the Procivis Think Tank and the Institute for Communication and Public Policy and as well as the Institute for Digital Technologies of Communication of the Università della Svizzera italiana produce an index for Switzerland that records digital political participation and maps cantons in a comparable way.
Digital political participation is recorded using an index in a standardized value range. The values for the DigiPart Index Switzerland range from 0 to 100 points and include the dimensions "opinion formation," "participation," and "decision-making”. Also in 2022, the differences between the cantons are also considerable. A minimum of 5 to a maximum of 56 points were scored. The mean value is 33 points. Financially stronger cantons tend to lead the ranking. Cantons with an older population structure tend to offer fewer digital participation opportunities. However, even the cantons at the top still have room to improve in all areas.
Compared to the previous year, there have been fluctuations, particularly in the "participation" dimension. This instability can be observed both in "eConsultation" and "eObjections" and is primarily due to discontinued pilot tests or lower use of the corresponding platforms by civil society. In the dimension of "opinion formation", minor improvements were observed in some cantons for the areas of "eDeliberation", "ePolitical education" and "eTransparency". Finally, in the dimension of "Decision-making" - especially in the area of "eID" - minor improvements were also recorded for a few cantons. Nothing has changed in the area of "eVoting".
The index is updated annually. Report and data sets are available on the website http://digipartindex.ch.
Gabriel Hofmann, Uwe Serdült, Costa Vayenas, Marine Benli-Trichet, Jean-Patrick Villeneuve, Anna Picco-Schwendener and Leonardo Colosante (2022): DigiPartIndex Switzerland 2022. Aarau, Zurich and Lugano Centre for Democracy Aarau (ZDA), Procivis Think Tank and Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI). Link: https://digipartindex.ch/en/blog/digipartindex_2022/
About the project
The Index of Digital Political Participation Switzerland makes it possible to measure and compare the state of digital political participation, initially for the Swiss cantons. The project is funded by the "Digitization + Society" programme of the Mercator Foundation Switzerland. 2About the Centre for Democracy Aarau (ZDA) The Centre for Democracy Aarau is a scientific research centre supported by the University of Zurich, the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, the Canton of Aargau and the City of Aarau. It conducts fundamental research and focuses on current issues concerning democracy – regionally, in Switzerland and worldwide. Link: www.zdaarau.ch
About the Procivis
Think Tank The mission of the Procivis Think Tank is to study the impact of digital technologies on democracy and to contribute to the development of innovative solutions with regard to the digitalization of public sector services and democracy. Link: www.procivis.ch/think-thank
About the Institute of Communication and Public Policy and the Institute of Digital Technologies for Communication of the Università della Svizzera italiana
The Institute of Communication and Public Policy and the Institute of Digital Technologies for Communication are research centers of the Università della Svizzera italiana in Lugano. Their research activities are at the intersection of communication, citizenship and technology and aim to link theories with practical applications.