Digital Democracy in Latin America: How ICT-based innovations may improve democracy


In the last years new forms of citizen participation have been growing steadily across Latin America. New institutional designs that allow citizens to play a larger role on public issues have been implemented by governments, civil society organizations, and international agencies alike. Among such innovations, one finds an increasing number of forms of citizen engagement that rely on new information and communication technologies (ICTs). The potential of ICTs to increase participation seems clear, as it reduces the costs of time usually associated with participation. Using their own smartphones, citizens can assist local governments to set their policy agenda, as well as report crimes or infrastructure problems in their cities. On the other hand, ICT-enabled innovations depend on access to internet and electronic devices that may not be equally accessible in Latin America.

This research project investigates ICT-enabled democratic innovations in four Latin American countries. It will look which new institutional designs for citizen participation have been created in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru using digital tools. It will identify and describe those mechanisms, and the actors and institutions behind them. More importantly, the research will investigate the potential of digital participatory innovations to impact on and improve the quality of democracy in Latin America.