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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.9 E-participation

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 11/11/2020 - 01:20

There is no provision for online voting in the UK, although the issue is discussed periodically, nor is there currently any provision for online voter registration in Northern Ireland, unlike in the rest of the UK.

#Ask the Speaker, (formerly known as Skype the Speaker), was launched in May 2016. It gives schools across the UK the opportunity to take part in a live Question and Answer session with the Speaker of the UK Parliament’s House of Commons, live from their classrooms. Priority is given to schools in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. 

The use of online platforms for consultations is common (see ‘Formal mechanisms of consultation’).

There is no system of e-petitions in the Northern Ireland Assembly. There is an online facility provided by the UK Parliament for all British citizens and UK residents to create or sign a petition, supported by five other people. Petitions gaining 10,000 signatures get a response from the Government, while those gaining 100,000 signatures will be considered for a debate in Parliament. Petitions can be shared through social media or email.

The Commission on Digital Democracy, which was set up by the Speaker of the UK Parliament's House of Commons, encourages participation through various social media. As part of the Commission’s work they have developed online forums, such as the national online forum held with student representatives from eight Universities, including the University of Ulster, in 2014 to discuss the challenges of digital democracy. 

The Commission, which is particularly interested in the role of young people in the UK’s democracy, reported in January 2015.  Its recommendations included that the House of Commons should take further steps to improve active involvement by young people, which might include:

  • encouraging young people to participate in the e-petitions system
  • youth issue-focused debates which involve young people and MPs.

It also recommended that the House of Commons, as part of its professional communications strategy should pilot and test new online activities, working with national and local partners, to target and engage specific groups who are not currently engaged in the democratic process. One of the potential target groups identified was 18- to 25-year-olds not at university.