DEMO: bridging public opinion for shared governance

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Abstract

The presence of a gap in the relationship between citizens and the political system is a phenomenon that knows no boundaries, which affects governments and political institutions at different scales.Citizens are dissatisfied about the current one-way political interaction held by an elite which is perceived as corrupt and distant. They would like to see a change, but they do not know how to obtain it. On the other hand, politicians promise changes that are hardly or too slow implemented, reinforcing the perception that the political system is an immutable static entity despite democracy is a dynamic process. Despite numerous initiatives undertaken by organisations and private citizens, aim to turn the tide, they fail to trigger significant changes.In this scenario, where citizens are questioning the current quality of democracy, while some are discouraged in manifesting their concerns, others are pushed to ask for participation extension and shared governance firmly. However, they perceive how they currently lack adequate instruments capable of bridging the noisy flows of information and enabling their request to shared governance come across.From here the relevance of this thesis which aims to apply a conjoint combination of strategic mid-set, interaction practices and design for democracy purposes to investigate how to bridge the current gap in the relationship between citizens and the political system and design a solution (desirable, feasible and viable) to enable society in achieving the democratic future they aim for. Thanks to the insights obtained from the extensive multidisciplinary research have been possible to harvest evidence concerning how the current gap is nurtured by the lack of reciprocal information, communication and education which affects citizens and politicians alike. Therefore the importance of realising an intervention at the interaction level capable of providing citizens and governmental institutions with the adequate instruments to establish anongoing bi-directional interaction which will enable to bridge public opinion and share governance representing an extension in participation beyond the moment of voting.Upon this goal, ideation and further data collection led to the realization of DEMO as final design articulated on three concepts: DEMO App for citizens, DEMOs Software for institutions and DEMOc Community, a “sub-partes” guarantor for adequate technical functioning and ethical usage of all the parts.Validation shade light about the authentic potential that an instrument like DEMO would have in improving the dynamics (in terms of information, communication and collaboration) and so the overall relationship between citizens and the political system across societal segments and institutional levels. Although several limitations have been identified regarding the ethical sustainability of the concept (which have been addressed in the dedicate reflection section) results remarked the capability of DEMO in activating the participatory spirit in respondents which declared to have lost it.In light of the positive reactions harvested along with its development, DEMO, as an overall concept, aspires to bring further the discussion about how to enable society to achieve a democratic future in which public opinion is bridged, and governance is incrementally shared between institutions and citizens at local, regional, national & international level.In the end, everything starts with an attempt; everything starts with a DEMO.