Dr. Bruce Wilson


Worldwide, representative democracies have experienced declining levels of voter turnout, lower membership levels in political parties, and apathy towards their respective political systems. E-democracy, specifically e-petitioning, has been touted as a possible solution to this problem by scholars of electoral systems. In 1999, the Scottish Parliament reconvened for the first time in nearly three hundred years, and set out to innovate Scottish politics by launching the world's first online e-petition system. The Scottish Parliament's e-petition system serves as a litmus test to see whether it offers an effective medium for increasing public political participation, and whether it can be replicated in other democratic countries. This study collected data from the Scottish Parliament's e-petitioning website, which hosts the e-petitions and details of who signed them, each e-petition's path through Parliament, and other important information. The success of an e-petition is highly subjective due to the original petitioner's desired goals; therefore, a data analysis and two case studies are utilized to evaluate the system. Results suggest that the Scottish Parliament's e-petition system has engaged Scots in the political process, giving them a medium to participate in policy formulation and to produce tangible changes in policy through their e-petitions.

About the Author

Ross Cotton graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Central Florida in 2011. He completed the Honors in the Major and Student-Mentor Academic Team programs, was a participant and a peer mentor at the UCF Summer Research Academy, and was awarded UCF Undergraduate Researcher of the Month in October 2011. He was accepted to the Ph.D. program in Political Science at the University of Florida, where he began his studies in the fall of 2012.


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