This Chapter focuses on Italian
public administrations use of web-based experiments in participatory democracy
designed to address citizens questions and needs.
The Chapter aims at investigating
why, in spite of its massive use, such forms of consultation have been largely
unsuccessful. A number of causes are identified for this, including: (1) the
lack of access to the web from large parts of the citizenry; (2) the miscalculation
of the costs from public bodies; (3) and the inadequate use of ICT in public administrations.
The Chapter is divided in three parts. Part I provides informational background
on the topic of participatory democracy and e-government. To this end, Part I begins
by focusing on the international scenario; it then turns to describing and
classifying a number of Italian experiments of online participatory democracy
(at the administrative level). Part II introduces and speculates the causes
behind the failures of such web-based experiments in participatory democracy.
Five reasons are identified: The
first consists of the scope of experiments in digital participation; the second
involves the target of participants; the third relates with the current state
of the Italian digital market; the fourth links to the digital divide in public
administrations; the fifth, and final, argument concerns the budgetary bounds
on public bodies. To conclude, Part III of this Chapter aims at, first, understanding
why the advent of the large-scale Internet did not fix the democratic deficit of
Italian contemporary politics and public administrations; and, second, it aims
at speculating on possible future evolutions of web-based participatory
initiatives in Italy.