Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
23 March 2022

Crowdsourcing constitutions in the digital era?

The fifth episode of our podcast “Constitutions for Democracy” discusses the experiments aimed at introducing ICTs in collective law and constitution making as well as their consequences.  

Revolutionising democracy to include citizens in decision-making processes was an expectation of the 1990s. The digitalisation of politics and the incorporation of institutions of citizen participation were two lines of action promoted to increase transparency, legitimacy and citizen engagement in times of growing distrust and electoral apathy. Extremist views attributed either unfounded over-optimism – a direct and interconnected global democracy, as the maximum expression – or on the opposite extreme pessimism, a cybernetic nightmare – the big brother, the society of control. What happened and what balance can we make in 2022 is the focus on this episode.

One of the typical arguments in favour of introducing digital media for political communication refers to the increasing citizens disengagement with formal politics. Digital media is foreseen as a mobilisation tool. However, findings on the effects of technology over political participation have shown that these are rather modest and conditioned by the most typical variables influencing political participation, like social capital and political interest. In 1999, Pippa Norris defined the focus on increasing digital politics as something like preaching to the convert that may have the negative effect of increasing the political gap between insiders and outsiders. Stephanie Wojcik and Raphael Kies in conversation with Yanina Welp provide an overview and elaborate on current trends. They also assess the conditions under which digital platforms infrastructures –that have been increasingly used to engage people in deliberative process – could produce meaningful participation.

The promises and pitfalls of digital democracy are analyzed considering that digital media are just part of our lives and we see that as in any other social phenomena, the conditions for good practices are not only neither mainly related to technical aspects but to political and social factors. This podcast is made by the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy and the Cost Action 17135.


Raphael Kies is senior researcher at the University of Luxembourg. He holds his PhD from the European University Institute. He is interested in deliberative democracy, electoral studies, democratic innovations, political system in Luxembourg and Media studies. He is the founder of the Luxembourgish Platform of Participatory Democracy (

Stéphanie Wojcik is Lecturer in information sciences at the University of Paris Est Créteil (France), and member of the CEDITEC, a research centre devoted to discourse analysis, especially in the political field, and media studies. She wrote various papers on web deliberation, and online political participation in French peer-reviewed journals such as Terminal; Réseaux; Politiques de communication; Participations. She is currently working on activism during electoral campaign with a special interest on how citizens use social media to express criticisms against candidates and political system


Yanina Welp is Research Fellow at the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy. She is also editorial coordinator at Agenda Publica and founder member of Red de Politólogas. Her main areas of study are the introduction and practices of mechanisms of direct and participatory democracy, and digital media and politics, i.e. ‘democratic innovations’.