By Kerrian Dailey – International Relations student
Democracies must progress and continue developing their own systems where the fundamental values of any democratic model are always strengthened, understanding some of them as greater participation, transparency, democratic education, and the efficiency of the system. But, what role does technology play in this story? It is highly relevant that the media addresses this issue in order to guarantee that Costa Rican society is informed of the possible impact that technological advances can generate for the benefit of our democracy. Therefore, how can technological advances benefit Costa Rican democracy?
Firstly, mechanisms could be streamlined to spread the voice of society to all levels of government, mainly through social networks. Based on the same idea, it could be said that today it is not entirely necessary for citizens to go to the traditional media in order to express their opinions regarding the actions that may impact the development of their communities. As mentioned by the political scientist and Master in Communication Gustavo Araya Martínez, the way of doing politics has changed because social networks present a space -although it is not necessarily representative of the population- to obtain the reactions of citizens regarding important issues in the world of politics in real time, instead of having to wait to do the survey (as cited in Carmona, 2017).
Secondly, it would increase the transparency mainly by improving citizen access to public information. Examples of this would be the efforts such as the open government plan Costa Rican former government that "aims not only to digitize processes, but also make information accessible to all citizens and promote democracy" (Chacón, 2015).
Thirdly, it will allow strategies, such as the one previously used by the TSE (Tribunal supremo de Elecciones) through its Institute for Training and Studies in Democracy (IFED) and the Omar Dengo Foundation, that offer courses through digital technologies on issues of citizenship and democracy, which would create a citizenship more aware of their democratic duties and rights (Diaz, 2015).
Fourthly, electoral technology could strengthen voter authentication processes, voting itself, vote counting, obtaining electoral results, and totalization. As Saba mentions “electoral technology has the potential to improve all the processes associated with the election, from the same logistics that a project of such scope implies, facilitate audits that increase reliability of results, guarantee legitimate governments, elected transparent and exact” (Saba, n.d.)
Finally, taking up the introductory thesis, it is understood that technological advances would benefit Costa Rican democracy taking into account, but not limiting to, mechanisms for citizen participation, transparency, education and electoral technology. Certainly, it is important to mention that there is no perfect answer since technologies can represent a double-edged sword allowing benefits such as electoral technology to be vulnerable to cyber criminals who can use important information for harmful purposes. Nevertheless, it is understood that great changes have never occurred at the same time that a new technology appears, and that the consolidation of these advances takes years, until the technologies become standardized and massively adopted. However, this article presents an easy to understand and effective plan based mostly on previous impacts that technology has had on Costa Rican democracy.
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Carmona, T. (2017). Redes sociales, ciudadanía participativa y democracia. Retrieved from https://www.ucr.ac.cr/noticias/2017/08/01/redes-sociales-ciudadania-participativa-ydemocracia.html
Chacón, (2015). Gobierno abierto tendrá plan en octubre. Retrieved from https://www.elfinancierocr.com/tecnologia/gobierno-abierto-tendra-plan-enoctubre/AVJAG4VNJBCUXHDA3SQ425K76E/story/
Dias, K. (2015). ¡A Vivir la democracia con ayuda de la tecnología! Retrieved from https://www.mep.go.cr/noticias/¡a-vivir-democracia-ayuda-tecnologia
Saba, S. (n.d). El caso de la tecnología para fortalecer la democracia. Retrieved from https://revistaitnow.com/it_connect/el-caso-de-la-tecnologia-para-fortalecer-la-democracia/