Two Models of Online Petitioning in the United Kingdom

Two Models of Online Petitioning in the United Kingdom

Johannes Fritz (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6066-3.ch019

Abstract

The chapter identifies two models of petitioning in the United Kingdom. One is found at the devolved legislatures in Scotland and Wales, the other on the Prime Minister's Website. Differences between these petition systems are analyzed with respect to their political and institutional context, functionality, use, and impact on politics. The model in Scotland and Wales evolved from the context of devolution and the desire of the new institutions to distance themselves from the Westminster Parliament. Their petition systems offer petitioners a detailed treatment of their petitions by specialised petition committees. Petitions are generally assessed in qualitative terms and received in small numbers. The second model on the Prime Minister's (2006-2010) and the coalition government's Website (since 2011) is used to collect popular demands as part of an e-engagement strategy reflecting the dominant position of the Prime Minister within the UK political system. The system focuses on quantitative criteria to identify successful petitions.
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Political And Institutional Context

As this section will show, whether and how online petition systems are established depends heavily on the political and institutional context in which the respective political institutions operate at the time. Impulses for modernising the handling of petitions may well come from outside the institutions, but the decision to follow or ignore that proposal is mostly with their members and staff.

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