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In politics the phrase democracy is used to refer to the form of governance whereby all the subjects have the opportunity to determine their leaders and the laws that will govern them. This could be at organizational level, national level and even global level. A democratic system is the one that allows people to exercise their democratic rights in order to put in power leaders passing laws that the majority believe that they are for their own good. The issue of democracy is not a new one and it has its roots back to the early 20th century when many countries gained independence from their colonizers (Putnam, 1995 p.16). Putnam (1995), points out that before independence in developing countries, policies were made by their colonizers and the locals had not any role in determining the nature of their political systems. It is after the attainment of independence by a majority of the developing countries that the issue of democracy started to gain popularity as the newly established ones fought to have their own leaders and laws that were not affiliated to their colonizers (Lee, 2003 p. 25).
The concept of independence that was established in the 19th and 20th century was that of representation. People could elect or nominate representatives who represented them in the Common House where national decisions were made. According to (Lee, 2003 p. 66), in this form of democracy a common citizen does not have the direct say in the decisions made in the Common House or what is currently referred to as Parliament. People rely on their representatives who have the responsibility of making decisions and choices that reflect the needs of those who elected or nominated them. This form of democracy is still popular in modern politics although it is being integrated with participatory democracy in order to improve democracy in modern political systems (Lee, 2003 p. 71).
Lee, ( 2003), goes ahead to add that, the famous representative democracy whereby people elected leaders to make decisions and policies on their behalf has been faced with several challenges regardless of the fact that it has been practiced for many years. Research shows that not all the politicians represent the needs of those who elected them. According to researchers, most of the politicians seem to forget the need of those who put them in power once they assume offices as representatives of democracy. This has contributed to major conflicts being experienced in some countries after the members of the public realizing that people whom they elected into power have failed to provide them with democratic leadership to that they were elected . This has been the core reason for conflicts that are happening in some countries currently such as Libya, Syria, Egypt and other parts of the world where those in leadership are forced to step down before their terms are over due to poor performance.
With modern technology people have come up with new strategies to express their democratic rights other than relying on representative democracy only. This has been possible due to technological advancement that has been witnessed towards the last years of the 20th century (Rosenberg, 2004 p. 143). Use of modern technology to express democratic rights began back in 1970 with the introduction of ‘television democracy’ that is believed to be the oldest concept of electronic democracy. This form democracy was developed by Ted Becker who used cable television for political decisions in 1970s (Toffler, 1995p. 76). Tele-democracy aimed at establishing more forms of direct democracy within the American political life. This was more participatory since people were allowed to air their views about the political systems in their countries. Currently cyber democracy has over taken tele-democracy and the Internet has become a major tool for expressing democratic rights in many parts of the world, especially in developing countries. Communication gadgets such as computers, Smartphones, cell phones and other online communication channels are used in modern politics to express democratic rights. Currently there are several Internet sites and blogs where people can express their political democratic free views thereby participating in establishing a political democracy that they want and criticize political systems both at national and global levels. Political analysts argue that cyber democracy is taking the future of politics since there are some countries where even voting for leaders is done online. In some developed countries such as the USA, presidential aspirants conducted majority of their campaigns through Internet (Lee, 2003 p. 88).
Statement of the problem
The emergence and use of cyber democracy have been welcome with mixed reactions. There are those who argue that cyber democracy has provided solution to the challenges associated with representative democracy that is popular in many countries (Miller, 1996 p. 95). Supporters of cyber democracy point out that this form of democracy has enabled people to express their democratic opinion without the need for physical representation (Bonchek, 1995 p. 32). For instance, with cyber democracy people are able to give their political views online, vote their leaders, criticize the existing political systems and even establish a revolution whereby leaders are forced to step down ( Rheingold, 1993 p. 156).
On the other hand researchers and theorists against cyber democracy argue that this form of democracy has eroded qualities and values associated with representative democracy. Those against cyber democracy point out that although the concept creates room for participatory democracy, there are not any limitations to those who may take advantage of cyber democracy to disrespect the existing political system and leaders in office, so they believe that cyber democracy is responsible for political revolutions witnessed in several parts of the world recently (Thakur, 2010 p. 188-192).
This study aims to expound on cyber democracy in order to distinguish it from other forms of democracy. It also highlights on the components of cyber democracy, its availability, and development in various countries. The core aim of the study is to establish a clear understanding of the concept of cyber democracy and impacts on both national and global politics in the 21st century. This way a solution to the controversy associated with cyber democracy that will be established there by determining the future of cyber democracy.
Objectives of the study
The objectives of this study are classified in two categories to ensure understanding and clarity of the purpose of the study to both the researcher and other users who did not participate in the study. The objectives also serve as guidelines to ensure that all resources are aimed at achieving the intended objectives only. This eliminates cases of biasness and inconsistency during the study. These objectives are general and specific ones.
The general purpose of the study is to establish a clear understanding of cyber democracy and its impacts on national and global politics.
The following are the specific objectives that the study aims to achieve:
- To define the concept of cyber democracy, its development and acceptance in various countries.
- To highlights on both advantages and disadvantages associated with cyber democracy relative to representative democracy.
- To determine the acceptability and the ability of developing countries to embrace cyber democracy in their political system.
- To shed light on the effectiveness of cyber democracy in relation to infrastructures and technological support being available to back it.
- To evaluate both positive and negative impacts of cyber democracy and determine its effectiveness in promoting political democracy in the 21st century
- To make an inclusive conclusion on the way that cyber democracy has affected politicians, political systems and their supporters, especially in developed countries where the new technology infrastructure is available.
Significance of the study
This study is that of great importance to many people and in all disciplines of study. Personally, the study provides a very rich research field where I can expand my knowledge on the effects of modern technology on democracy and politics. This study also provides a very rich source of knowledge to other researchers and students in political science, information technology and other related courses. Political analysts can also use the findings of this study in understanding how modern technology has influenced national and global politics and the expression of democracy. The study also provides a rich source of knowledge to the general public that can be used to understand the concept of cyber democracy and its applicability in modern politics. Last but not least, this study serves as an opener for researchers to conduct more empirical studies in this field in order to capture the actual picture of how cyber democracy has influenced on politics in different countries.
Research methods and scope of the study
As it is mentioned in the introduction, this study involves a thorough evaluation of all readily available literature on cyber democracy and its effects on modern politics. This includes scholarly journals and articles, books, research reports from other researchers and Internet sources. The review will involve analysis of the information in favor and that against cyber democracy in order to understand the concept of cyber democracy, its development and how it has influenced modern politics both at the national and global level. After the analysis of the study, an all inclusive conclusion will be made in order to determine the future of cyber democracy.
Understanding of democracy and politics
From political science point of view, democracy refers to the ideal that all people within a specific political system have the ability to determine the laws and leaders that will govern their resources. The political boundaries could be that of a nation, organization, region and even global political bodies whereby people are required to determine the form of administration, which they want. For instance, in a nation that observes a democratic political system citizen are expected to determine the laws of their nation in both law making process and election of leaders (Snider, 1994 p. 68-72). Generally, democracy is the opposite of dictatorial whereby citizen have no room to determine the kind of leadership and laws they want (Athina, 2000 p. 67).
In the modern world, parliamentary democracy is the most common. This requires the voting public of a nation to participate in elections whereby they choose political leaders that feel that have policies that meet their needs. The elected politicians participate in law making in a legislative assembly whereby by national decisions are made on the basis of majority voting. This normally referred as direct democracy whereby citizens participate directly in the political process. This is the form of democracy in many countries.
Research shows that there is no universal definition for the world ‘democracy’. However, political theorists point out that democracy is normally founded on the principle of freedom and equality. According to these principles, all the members of a state are equal before the law and have the same rights and capacities in the making of the state laws. The concept of democracy is argued to have formally started in the ancient Greece from where it spread throughout the Roman Empire, to other countries in Europe, both North and South America, Asian countries, and, lastly to Africa (Lee, 2003 p 112).
There are several forms of democracy which include representative democracy, deliberate democracy, consensus democracy and participatory democracy among others. It is worth noting that representative democracy is the most common form of democracy and it is the one that was used in the early days of democracy. According to Lee, 2003, in this form of democracy citizens elected few representatives on the basis of majority vote who are given the responsibility of making laws and controlling state resources. This form of democracy embraces both the presidential system and parliamentary systems of government (Cynthia & Leslie, 2011 p. 250).
Another form of democracy is the deliberative democracy which some political theorists refer to as discursive democracy. In this form of democracy state decisions are normally made through the deliberations. This form of democracy constitutes elements of both traditional representative democracy and consensus democracy. The phrase ‘deliberative democracy’ was first used by Joseph Bessette in 1980. The other form of democracy is the consensus democracy whereby major state decisions are made on the basis of all the opinions of the citizens. In such democracy majority’s votes do not matter in making state decisions. Citizens are also involved in the establishment of political systems and political agendas. According to political theorists and analysts discussed by (Cynthia & Leslie, 2011 p. 266), it is the consensus democracy that has led to the development of cyber democracy through the use of modern information and communication technology.
Although the term democracy is used in many fields, ranging from politics, human rights, social practices and civic liberties among others, this paper intends to evaluate democracy in relation to politics.
Emergence of cyber democracy
Research shows that democracy is an old concept that has been there since the early days of the ancient Greece kingdoms. However, democracy has undergone several evolutions in order to suit the needs and expectations of the majority. Lack of reliability and satisfaction by the people with both deliberative and representative democracies are the core factors that give rise to cyber democracy. However, it is worth noting that technological advancement in the recent past has boosted the development of cyber democracy (Cynthia & Leslie, 2011 p. 256).
Research shows that most politicians seem to forget the need of those who put them in power once they assume offices as representatives of democracy. This has contributed to major conflict experienced in some countries after the members of the public realizing that people whom they elected into power have failed to provide them with the democratic leadership that the electors provided them. This has been the core reason for conflicts that are happening in some countries currently such as Libya, Syria, Egypt and other parts of the world where those in leadership are forced to step down before their terms are over due to poor performance. It's the failure of both representative and deliberative democracy that give rise to consensus democracy that has given birth to cyber democracy (Cynthia & Leslie, 2011 p. 256).
Cyber democracy generally refers to a participatory democracy where people are enabled to participate in the political activities around them through new information technology facilities such as Smartphones, Internet connected computers, cell phones and other modern technology gadgets. Both national and global politics have changed in the 21st century with the introduction of cyber democracy and now people are able to monitor, contribute and criticize government actions and other political happenings. Similarly, modern politicians are currently using the Internet for campaign purposes which shows how cyber democracy is rooted into our societies. Cyber democracy concepts are believed to have developed as the result of the evolution of computer networks. Researchers point out that cyber democracy began back in the 1970s on nets such as the Usenet, Bitnet, Internet and EIES among others. However it is worth noting that it is the Internet that has really shaped cyber democracy ideas (Dutton, 1992 p.155. ).
The concept of cyber democracy is believed to have been developed from a mixture of two West America cultures. Researchers point out that it is a virtual class working and living between the Silicon Valley and Stanford University that were responsible for it. It is this virtual class that mixed in the cyber democracy that the dream of true democracy was born. In this context, the idea of cyber democracy was understood as the direct self empowerment of citizens, the individual’s pursuit of political happiness, dream for a wealthy nation in terms of money and stock. Nevertheless, the initial concept of cyber democracy was also concerned about the politics of the time for the American people believed that politics were potential threats to freedom and the ability to maximize wealth (Cynthia & Leslie, 2011 p. 256).
Out of this early American concept of cyber-democracy, two variants were developed which include the conservative or the libertarian and the liberal or the communitarian. The libertarian emphasized on the importance of the free market while the liberal variant was more concerned with community values. It is the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF) that is believed to be the first attempt to come up with a political theory based on cyberspace. Newt Gingrich was among the first Congress to come up with an e-mail address that was used to achieve political goals in the US. Later on, Howard Rheingold developed a more user’s friendly version of cyber-democracy. According to Rheingold, this was a very brave move in establishing cyber-democracy whereby they are not only to create links with their wealth friendships but also exchanged political ideologies that influence on the American politics (Milbrath, 1965 p. 19).
Rheingold is believed to be among the first people to appreciate the idea of cyber-democracy. According to him, unlike Tele - democracy where cable TV was used, cyber democracy is more interactive (Saldich, 1979 p. 27). He, together with other cyber-democracy advocates, points out that this technology has provided the community with a social capital that they can use to free use political systems in their countries. According to Rheingold, cyberspace technology has facilitated the creation of virtual communities that have enabled people not only to bring changes in the national and political systems but also to do it in social life, intellectual leverage, and commercial sector among others.
Political analysts from the US argue that the Internet is a very important tool as far as cyber democracy is concerned whereby information can be exchanged freely among individuals, especially in the 21st century (Lee, 2003 p. 79).
Advocates of cyber-democracy point out that claims to power by politicians can no longer be validated on the basis of political property of the aspirants, but on the power of information the general public has about those vying for political positions (Ax ford, 1997 p. 199). Therefore, it is important to promote the establishment and development of virtual space whereby democratic organizations can air out their views and criticism against the current political systems. Research shows that both liberal and conservative proponents of cyber-democracy uniformly support the idea of cyber-democracy and they believe that by well managing it can determine the future of national and global politics (Lee, 2003 p. 34). However, critics of cyber-democracy argue that cyber-democracy is not fully effective since it creates room for centralism between the politicians and communication structures thereby hindering the implementation of democracy (Morino Institute, 1995 p. 12). According to the authors, Francisco James Brook and Ian Boal pointed that shifting from material political sphere of cyber politics is a necessary move, especially in the 21st century where people are spread to different parts of the world and they need to participate in their local politics too (Ricardo, 2009 p. 45).
Factors that contributed to cyber democracy
There are several factors that contributed greatly to the establishment and development of cyber-democracy. One of the major factors that contributed to cyber democracy is technological advancement in the last a few decades. Similar to the arguments by lovers of technology that the world has become small whereby communication from one part of the world to another is possible and fast without the need for actual physical movement, modern technology has made global politics to local politics (Abramson, Arterton & Orren, 1988 p. 23-25). People from different parts of the world are using computer aided networks such as the Internet to exercise their political rights without the need for actual physical movement unlike the past.
The level of poverty among nations has decreased when compared with the situation half a century ago. According to a report released by political analysts from Harvard University in 2010, economic prosperity empowers people with the freedom and power to criticize unfair political regimes. Similarly, the concept of cyber-democracy has also resulted from economic prosperity that has taken place in several parts of the world. The research shows that currently there are incidences of one-party or one-person dictatorship while comparing with the situations 50 years ago when most of the developing countries were struggling for their independence (Bertelsen, 1992 p. 39). During the period when countries were struggling for independence, the leadership was based on one goal that was to fight for the independence for their countries and other democratic rights. Cases of one party or one person were not major concerns since the agenda was one (Ann & Efthimios, 2009 p. 56). However, this has changed and current leaders no longer give the democratic rights of their supporters the necessary considerations they require. Cases of dictatorships within political systems have become a common phenomenon in many countries and this has led to political revolutions whereby the general public to force those in political offices to step down (Friedland, 1996 p. 53).
Economic prosperities among the rising middle class from other parts of the world demand for governments that listen to their voice, power and other economic resources. This has contributed greatly to cyber democracy where people are using cyberspace to mobilize themselves in order to vote out or demand for the unfair regimes to leave the offices.
Effects of cyber democracy on national politics
In the recent past, we have witnessed several information technology related with evolutions which had both positive and native implications to the nations where they took place. A good example of such countries where cyber democracy has resulted in substantial changes include the USA, Egypt, Libya, Syria, North Korea, South Korea, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Greece, Germany and France among others (Cynthia & Leslie, 2011 p. 201). Generally, democratic and other wealthy countries have shifted to cyberspace as a means of promoting democracy. The introduction of cyber democracy has resulted in several benefits to the national politics of the countries that are using them.
A good example is the United States of America which for the past decades has relied on cyber democracy as a means of perfecting its national politics. It is the issue of political apathy and under representation of the popular wills that has contributed to the implementation of cyber democracy in many countries globally. For instance, in the US during the US congressional election voters’ turnout is often less than 50% due to the culture and distribution of the US citizens globally (Barber, 1984). The case of low voters’ turnout is a serious problem for the country that advocates democratic political processes. Consequently countries like US have developed methods that can be used to eliminate political apathy and the most popular means in the 21st century is incorporation of cyber democracy in national politics. This has been achieved by the creations of cyberspaces such as web pages, blogs, and e- government in order to enable citizens to participate in national political processes and public policies.
On the other hand, citizens and other political activists have created their own Internet pages whereby they can freely exchange ideas on national political processes and public policies. However, it is worth noting that the general public and other political activists are not only using cyber democracy as a means of understanding their national governance but also as a means of monitoring, benchmarking and criticizing fair regimes in their countries.
There following are the major positive impacts on national politics that are as result of cyber democracy.
- Introduction of cyber democracy has enabled citizens to participate in public policies and political processes, the process that was not possible in a purely representative democracy a few decades ago. For instance, the US has been able to improve its political systems through the use of cyber democracy whereby its citizens can access government services and information from their states through the Internet (Lee, 2003 p. 112).
- Another positive impact on national security that is associated with cyber democracy is the ability to vote for leaders online. The fact that majority of the people in both developed and developing countries do not reside in their countries or where they registered as voters has been a major reason for low voters’ turnout in many countries in the recent past. However, with the introduction of cyber democracy this challenge has been overcome since people now can vote from where they are residing without having to travel to their voting centers, courtesy of the advancement in information technology and cyber democracy.
- Politicians have also been relieved some of the challenges since they no longer need to move to all parts of their nations in order to communicate their political policies or respond to the voters' questions concerning his/her abilities to represent them. With the introduction of cyber democracy, politicians can now create web pages, blogs, e-mail addresses and other communication channels through which they can reach voters and communicate their policies (Elgin, 1993 p.11).
- Cyber democracy has empowered the majority in every nation with a means through which they can monitor and criticize their government if they fail to meet their expectations. Unlike the purely representative democracy witnesses in the past where people had to wait until when there is another voting period in order to vote in or out leaders that have failed to represent their democratic rights in the common house, cyber now citizens have the opportunity to monitor and air their stand about a bad regime while being still in office. A good example where this has been implemented is Greece, Italy, Syria and Egypt. In these countries Internet communication among the citizens has played a great role in mobilizing people to revolt against the regimes that failed to mean their national expectations (London, 1994 p. 88).
- Easy and effective governance. With the introduction of e-government, it is now easy for citizens to access administrative services from without having to travel to the headquarters. In developed countries major services can be accessed online whereby citizens can log in and fill forms or send e-mails in order to communicate their issues to the government. It is also possible for citizens to recommend changes in the governance without necessarily having to move access the relevant administrative offices.
- Political analysts point out that national politics have become less complicated with the introduction of Internet aided democracy as long as a country has well established information and communication network.
- Cyber democracy has politics parts of the social life in many countries, especially where IT infrastructure is excellent. The factor that social sites such as Facebook and Twitters are used by people to share political issues is evident enough in that cyber democracy has made politics parts of the people’s lives. Mobile phones that have access to the Internet are popularly used in to access social sites and this means that people can now access political information and national policies from the comfort of their homes.
Although the introduction of cyber democracy is viewed as the solution to democratic challenges facing both develooped and developing countries, the concept also has several demerits to national politics that has made conservative political analysts to consider it as the core contributor to the political revolutions witnessed in various parts of the world. Political theorists against the concept of cyber democracy point out that majority of the developed countries have a well established political storm and there are high levels of citizen participation in public policies and political processes unlike in developing countries (Hollander, 1985 p. 24-26). Consequently, it is not clear whether cyber democracy and other IT enabled political systems have any affected to the developed countries. Those against the concept of cyber democracy argue that only the newly developed or the developing countries that have achieved democracy recently can really benefit from cyber democracy if they have a strong IT infrastructure. Such countries include South Korea, Egypt, Syria and Libya among others (Cynthia & Leslie, 2011 p. 304).
Political theorists and analyst against the concept of cyber democracy argue that it is too early for developing countries to embrace IT aided political systems and do away with the traditional representative political system and democracy. According to a group of political analysts from Harvard University, developing countries have not established sufficient IT infrastructure nationally and relying on cyber democracy as a political tool has will limit political democracy since only a small portion of the citizens in developing countries have the access to Internet and other computer added communications . The following are the major negative impacts of cyber democracy on national politics:
- Poor participation by citizens in developing countries in public policies and national political processes. Research shows that majority of the developing countries does not have adequate IT infrastructure to support cyber democracy. There, over reliance of cyber democracy by developing countries results to poor participation by citizens thereby hindering the same democracy that they are supposed to be promoting. For instance, conducting national campaigns and voting through the cyberspace in some developing countries being not effective will hinder majority of the citizens from practicing their democratic rights (Dartnell, 2006 p. 43).
- There is an increasing tendency for people to misuse Internet usage whereby disrespectful and irrelevant messages are communicated through cyberspace to the government and other political leaders by their opposition and their supporters. Political analysts argue that cyber democracy has been misused in various countries, especially in newly developed countries where there is completion for power and leadership at the national level. Several cases have been reported whereby Internet users have sent disrespectful messages to the government or have used government web pages to communicated irrelevant information.
- Cyber democracy has contributed greatly to political violence witnessed in various parts of the world such as in Italy, Greece, Egypt, Libya and Syria. Although the governments in these countries have failed to address the democratic rights of the majority citizens, violence and destruction of property was not part of the solution. The fact that people could not organize violence openly made it necessary for the perpetrators of these conflicts to rely on Internet aided communication to team up people so that they can participate in violence. Political analysts point out that the use of Internet communication in political activities and processes has empowered political rivals to organize conflicts in their countries even when they are in other countries (Lee, 2003 p. 167).
Impacts of cyber democracy on global politics
- With the recent globalization and introductions of faster and more convenient communication technologies such as the Internet, the world has become like a small village and an occurrence in one country has a significant effect on other countries (Kole, 1999 p. 99). Global politics have also become part of our national politics because our national policies must be in accordance with the global policies. Generally, there is not much difference between the national policies and global politics in the 21st century except that there are different national political systems in some countries due to religious and cultural backgrounds (Dartnell, 2006 p. 48).
Research sources that cyber democracy has improved global politics, especially in the 21st century due to the advancement in communication technology. The following are the major positive impacts of cyber democracy on global politics according to a report released by political analysts from Harvard University:
- Cyber democracy has facilitated exchange of political information and knowledge among people from different parts of the world. Consequently, it is possible for citizens from countries that have become democratic recently or those that are still under dictatorship to get some ideas on democratic political systems from democratic and developed countries. This exchange of political information has helped in harmonizing political policies and processes on the global perspective thereby promoting global political harmony (Bimber, 1996 p. 82).
- It is possible to follow and criticize political processes in other countries from one country through the cyberspace. This enables people to familiarize with the politics of the countries that they are interested in it before making decisions for business ventures and other social-economic activities with these countries. This has taken global politics to a different level unlike in the past where the concerns of global politics were left in the hands of politicians and other national leaders (Margolis & Riaño, 2009 p. 153).
- Cyber democracy has enabled global organizations in-change of global relationship to monitor political processes from different parts of the world in order to ensure democracy that is promoted globally. During the period of purely representative democracy, it was not possible to monitor global political, especially in situations where dictatorial leaders at national level failed to cooperate with the international society (Grossman, 1995 p. 43). For instance, in the case of Libya during the recent violence, it could not be easy for the international world to follow the undemocratic activities that were taking place within its boundaries if not for cyber democracy. Libya citizens that were against the dictatorial regime relied on Internet communications to inform the outside world of what was happening in their country thereby enabling the intervention of the outside world. (Arterton, 1987 p. 27).
- Cyber democracy has introduced the concept decentralization on global politics. Before the introduction of Internet aided communication in politics, it was difficult to ensure that global politics are not centralized at national or regional levels (Ogden, 1994 p. 36). Countries emphasized in their own political systems without much consideration on the consequence of their politics in the international world. Currently, cyber democracy has enabled politicians from different parts of the world to exchange information without necessarily having to hold international meetings to discuss global political issues (Hagen, 1996 p. 98).
- The concept of cyber democracy has made global political processes much easier economical unlike the days of Tele-democracy and representative politics where a lot of financing was spent in global politics for communication purposes (Kaczmarczyk, 2010). Currently communication is far much easier through the Internet and, therefore, citizens of all countries can always be informed of all happenings on global politics.
According political analysts and theorists the concept of cyber democracy does not only have only positive contributions to cyber democracy (Kalathil & Boas, 2003 p. 67). The incorporation of cyber democracy in global politics has also contributed to several challenges that are experienced in many parts of the world. According to political analysts, political changes are occurred with a faster rate than other social changes such as cultural changes, religious and economic ones (Patterson, 1993 p. 76-77). Therefore, unifications of the global politics that has been established due to cyber democracy do not reflect the social cultural and economic situations of various countries. Developing countries are currently struggling to implement political processes and public policies practiced by the developed countries. This has brought political inconsistency and stress. The following are the major negative impacts of cyber democracy that conservative political analysts feel that they have hindered completed the practice of democracy in developing countries.
- Cyber- democracy has contributed to the spread of biased or unrealistic political policies from developing countries to the developing nations whereby they are implemented by the locals resulting in political conflicts. For instance, research shows that over 60% of the political information exchanged between individuals in social sites such as Facebook and Twitter is not original and once it is passed from one person to another there is loss or additional of false information depending on the understanding of the previous recipient (Arterton, 1987 p. 188).
- Political analysts point out that most conflicts happening in most of the countries world are the result of integration of cyber democracy in modern national and global politics. With the introduction of cyber democracy, countries can not more fully regulate political information access by its citizens. Internet communication has allowed people from countries facing similar political challenges to exchange information thereby entering into political revolutions and conflicts at the same time. This has imposed challenge on global politics since it is easy to address global political challenges if they happen at the same time (Poster, 1995 p. 54).
- Last but not least, political analysts and theorists against cyber democracy argue that the introduction of online voting, campaign, and meetings to address issues related to global political issues has hindered some of the parties from developing countries in accessing information from Internet sites due to lack of adequate IT infrastructure in communication.
The research shows that both global political and national ones have undergone several evolutions since the ancient days. Initially, the form of democracy that was practiced in all parts of the world was the representative politics whereby the majority elected an individual to represent them in the Common House, currently referred to as Parliament. It is the elected leaders that protected the interests of those who voted in office. However, the research confirms that there are not all the elected leaders who represent the interests of the majority citizens as it is expected (Grewlich, 1999 p. 66).
It is the failure of elected leaders and governments to protect their democratic rights that led to the concept of participatory democracy where individuals are able to participate directly in contributing to public policies and political processes. The most recent form of participatory democracy is cyber democracy where people from the same nation or from different parts of the world can exchange political views (Holmes, 1997 p. 117).
The study shows that cyber democracy had both positive and negative impacts on both national and global politics. Nevertheless, considering the fact that there is advancement in IT communication is to stay. It is better for us to embrace it even in our politics but ensuring that it does not contribute to national and global conflict (Graber, 1995 p. 56). It is evident from the study that cyber democracy has more positive impacts to both national and global politics. The few negative impacts are as result of lack of control and misuse of the cyber space. Introduction of cyber democracy and those in power can not longer go unmonitored and this has improved the situation of national and global politics. According to the study, those against cyber democracy both at the national level and the global one are enemies of change and, thus, they do not justify the concept of cyber democracy as unworthy one.
In order to take advantage for countries of cyber democracy at both national and global levels, there is need for governments to ensure that there is adequate and modern IT infrastructure that can support fair and equal practice of cyber democracy. There is also need for both national and international governance to establish as systems where by ethics in Internet communication can be upheld to avoid and prevent those with ill motives to take advantage of cyber democracy to mislead the general public (Dartnell, 2006 p. 104).
Cyber democracy refers to a participatory democracy where people are enabled to participate in the political activities around them through new information technology facilities such as Smartphones, Internet connected computers, cell phones and other modern technology gadgets (Wim, 2004 p. 16). Both national and global politics have changed in the 21st century with the introduction of cyber democracy and now people are able to monitor, contribute and criticize government actions and other political happenings. This research aims at evaluating the concept of cyber democracy and its impacts on national and global politics. This will involve conducting a thorough literature review of readily available peer reviewed sources to determine the advantages and disadvantages of cyber democracy. Challenges facing cyber democracy in developing countries will also be evaluated in order to determine its applicability.
The study starts by giving a detailed explanation of cyber democracy and cyber politics and how they differ from the representative democracy that has been practiced in different parts of the world for long time. There is also an all inclusive discussion on the emergence of cyber democracy and with clear illustration of the factors the led to the emergence of cyber democracy. The study also covers all the factors that have made cyber democracy a reality regardless of the fact that in some countries political systems are still based on the traditional representative democracy. Both negative and positive impacts of cyber democracy to national and global politics are also analyzed in order to determine whether cyber-democracy has more advantages or disadvantages to modern politics and democracy. Lastly a conclusion is made based of the findings and recommendations proposed on how the concept of cyber-democracy can be improved and become more acceptable.