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Academic study aimed at increasing citizen engagement in Belgium.

The involvement in elections has been declining for decades in Belgium. In the last 2019 elections, 17% of eligible voters, which amounts to 1.3 million people, did not vote or cast a blank/invalid vote. itsme supports a two-part study by VUB and ULB to open the debate and offer realistic solutions to reduce the distance between citizens and politics. 

Part 1: why some Belgians don't vote

In the first part of the study, the researchers explore electoral absenteeism, which refers to the reasons why certain Belgians don't vote. This issue poses a significant challenge to democracy. The study provides an overview of absenteeism in both Europe and Belgium and identifies the key factors that contribute to voter abstention on election day.

It also puts forward possible solutions for reducing absenteeism in both the short and long term such as citizenship education, online voting tests, direct contact with elected officials, better representation of minority groups, simpler voting processes, and online voting.

Part 2: more citizen engagement

Voting is just one of the many ways in which citizens can take action. Although parliamentary democracy remains the cornerstone of our society, there are many other forms of citizen participation that keep democracy alive. This second part of the study lists these initiatives from petitions, referendums, and commissions to dialogues and meetings. The researchers also make recommendations for strengthening citizen involvement in political decision-making, such as a lack of a clear legislative framework and an appropriate vocabulary for participation.

The study ends by providing recommendations for public authorities to follow. It emphasizes the importance of effective communication and transparency, among other factors, for the successful implementation of citizen initiatives.

“As a digital identity, itsme wants to contribute to an inclusive and trusted society. E-voting is perfectly possible from a technical point of view, but e-democracy takes more than a digital solution. We want to open the debate and find together how to reduce the gap between citizens and politics.”

Download the study