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Numbers on the Rise: Engaging Politics Online

The Internet is playing an increasingly important role in communicating politics and in promoting political commitment among citizens. It offers new opportunities for information, communication and participation, which are used in a variety of ways, especially by young people.

Important potentials of the new medium are seen in its possible contribution to the democratization of society: through better information and participation opportunities, citizens could help shape all areas of life more actively and thus strengthen citizen-friendly democracy.

However, the development of Internet use to date also shows the danger of a “digital split” in society due to a growing gap between users and non-users. This development can create or intensify social inequalities, as the level of education, social status and gender affiliation determine the possibilities for information and political participation.

The number of Internet users is increasing every year

In 2007, 40.8 million People aged 14 and over were online (62.7%). All major parties, organizations and associations are represented on the internet, but also NGOs, associations and alternative political projects. There is a wide range of political activities on the Internet (e.g. chats with politicians, collections of signatures, web discussions), online magazines, Internet portals and information sites.

Spaces for more open communication

it potentially enables the participation and free expression of opinion for all interested parties who can communicate with like-minded and dissenters without ideological and party-political boundaries.

The structure of communication and participation appears to be more equal than real debates and traditional forms of engagement; The usual influencing factors – such as age or social status – have less weight in the virtual space.

The network offers free availability of diverse, up-to-date, inexpensive and quickly retrievable information and public access to knowledge for broad sections of the population . This enables citizens to obtain comprehensive and independent information, but also to spread their own concerns online.

The internet allows communication without time or space restrictions and defies traditional hierarchies and authorities. B. in the public communication rooms of the virtual communities, all interested parties to speak and discuss with each other.

The Internet is not only used for peaceful contact and tolerant communication

It can also support violent actions and provide a forum for content that is politically or morally questionable or prohibited (e.g. violations of the protection of minors, racism, political extremism). In addition, there are specific forms of Internet crime that are linked to the possibilities of the new medium, such as spam emails or exchange rings for child pornography.

Combating these phenomena is often difficult because the Internet crosses national borders and thus severely restricts the options for political intervention and control.

The development of the Internet and its use to date shows that the euphoric hopes for comprehensive democratization have not been fulfilled, but political processes can be more transparent and new information, communication and participation opportunities have emerged and using town planning consultants Perth for town planning and architectural design.