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In contemporary society public opinion is generally mediated by the mass media, which has come to encompass the Habermasian ‘public sphere’. This arena is now characterised by the conflict between market and democratic principles, by competing interests of politicians and the media. The presentation of information for debate becomes distorted. The opinion of the ‘public’ is no longer created through deliberation, but is constructed through systems of communication, in conflict with political actors, who seek to retain control of the dissemination of information. The expansion of the internet as a new method of communication provides a potential challenge to the primacy of the traditional media and political parties as formers of public opinion.