Fraunhofer-Institut für
System- und Innovationsforschung ISI

E-public, e-participation, e-voting in Europe: Chances and limits of an Internet-enabled European democracy

The European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG) under the lead of Fraunhofer ISI currently carries out a research project for STOA (Science Technology Options Assessment Panel of the European Parliament) with the official title: "E-democracy: Technical possibilities of the use of electronic voting and other Internet tools in European elections". After having analysed the state-of-the-art research of e-democracy in an overview phase, the in-depth analysis was structured according to the following three main research questions:

  • How can the Internet contribute to the development and establishment on a genuinely European public? (e-public in Europe)

  • What are good practices for e-participation in Europe or how can public organisations profit from opening their processes to a wider audience by using the Internet, respectivley? (e-participation in Europe)

  • Is e-voting a realistic means to increase electoral participation and what are the concrete conditions for its success? (e-voting in Europe) 

The investigations will result in three different papers which are available from December 2010. Preliminary findings show that the Internet is indeed a viable instrument to increase interest (e-public) and involvement (e-participation) of Europeans with public affairs and political decision-making. Different examples will illustrate positive participatory effects of the Internet.

However, e-voting seems to be the difficult part. Only under certain circumstances can Internet-voting increase overall electoral turnouts. Examples from countries with e-voting processes in practice should be considered with care, as the framework conditions often sharply differ from those for European parliament elections. However, there are specific uses for e-voting in other election contexts like student´s parliamants or works councils and there are long-term perspectives which will be described in detail in the forthcoming e-voting paper.

The results of all three papers will be presented and discussed in a series of workshops beginning in March 2011. Institutes involved in the project: Fraunhofer Institute Systems- and Innovation Research ISI, Germany.


Ongoing (Oct 2009-Oct 2011)

Commissioned by

European Parliament, STOA (Science Technology Options Assessment Panel of the European Parliament)


  • KIT, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe, Germany 

  • Institute for Technology Assessment (ITA), Vienna, Austria

Workshop E-Voting, Brussels, 17 March 2011



Introduction and presentation of STOA project
Dr. Bernd Beckert, Fraunhofer ISI, Karlsruhe.

Session 1: Technical and general issues of e-voting
Prof. Rüdiger Grimm, University of  Koblenz, IT Risk Management.
Dr. Barbara Simons, IT security expert, formerly IBM Research, USA.     

Session 2: European perspective of e-voting
Prof. Alexander Prosser, University of Economics and Business Administration Vienna.
Dr. Anne-Marie Oostveen, University of Oxford, Oxford Internet Institute.
Susanne Caarls, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, Programme Advisor.

Deliverable 2: "E-Democracy in Europe - Prospects of Internet-based political participation". The three working papers, October 2010, 124 pp.

Summary: "E-voting arguments", 4 pp.

Announcement: Workshop E-Participation, Brussels, 26 May 2011

Open for registration now:



Lindner, R.; Beckert, B.; Aichholzer, G.; Strauß, S.; Hennen, L. (2010): E-Democracy in Europe – Prospects of Internet-based political participation. Interim Report – Phase I (European Parliament, Science and Technology Options Assessment STOA), Brussels/Strasbourg.

Beckert, B.; Lindner, R.; Goos, K.; Hennen, L.; Aichholzer, G.; Strauß, S. (2010): E-Democracy in Europe – Prospects of Internet-based political participation. Theoretical framework and overview. In-depth examination of three selected areas – Phase II (European Parliament, Science and Technology Options Assessment STOA), Brussels/Strasbourg.

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