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Towards the enhancement of e-democracy: identifying the notion of the ‘middleman paradox’



Abstract. The challenge towards e-democracy, through the electronic transformation of political systems, has become increasingly evident within developed economies. It is regarded as an approach for increased and better quality citizen participation in the democratic processes. E-democracy forms a component of overall e-government initiatives where technology adoption and diffusion, to enhance wider access to, and the delivery of, government services, are apparent. However, previous research demonstrates that very few e-democracy proposals survive the stage of formal political decision-making to become substantive e-government projects within national or international agendas. Furthermore, the implementation  of  e-democracy  projects  is  undertaken  at  a  much  slower  pace and with dramatically less support than the implementation of other, so-called e-administration, activities in the public sector.

The research in this paper considers the notion of the ‘middleman paradox’, presenting theoretical and empirical evidence that further investigates the phenomenon associated with potential e-democracy improvements. Specifically, the paper adds a new dimension to existing theories on the hesitant evolution of e-democracy that clearly identifies politicians as an inhibiting factor. Proposals are made for an enhancement of these processes, and suggestions for further applicable research are demonstrated.