A new article by Florian Toepfl is published online first at the journal New Media & Society. It is entitled
Innovating consultative authoritarianism: Internet votes as a novel digital tool to stabilize non-democratic rule in Russia and its abstract reads as follows:
Extant research on the consequences of the Internet for non-democratic politics has focused on how oppositional activists leverage new digital tools. By contrast, still, relatively little is known about how authoritarian elites proactively deploy digital technologies to legitimize their rule. This article contributes to filling this gap by scrutinizing one highly innovative tactic that has recently been adopted repeatedly by Russia’s ruling elites: the organization of ‘Internet votes’ to staff advisory bodies to the government. In contrast to online petitions, online votes are aimed at aggregating citizen preferences not on issues but on candidates, that is, on individuals who later act as political representatives. The article presents an in-depth case study of the first such Internet vote conducted in Russia in 2012. It concludes that ruling elites deployed the tool swiftly to (1) disempower oppositional activists and (2) convey to the mass public the image of a transparent, accountable and responsive government.
The full text of the article can be downloaded here. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the author anytime.