Parliamentary Information Visualization as a Means for Legislative Transparency and Citizen Empowerment?

December 06, 2016 by Aspasia Papaloi, Dimitris Gouscos

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The objective of this article is to highlight the contribution and importance of parliamentary information visualization (PIV) with a view to legislative transparency and citizen empowerment. The constant appeal for parliamentary openness regarding information on laws and bills and accountability of elected representatives calls for transparency in parliamentary procedures and at several areas of parliamentary informatics, in order to enhance democratic control and re-establish constituents’ trust. On the other hand, the provision of easy to understand and analyze information plays a central role to the achievement of transparency. In this respect, this paper provides an overview of the characteristics and capabilities of information visualization that can contribute to delineating the institutional, but also technical possibilities and constraints of achieving legislative transparency. On the basis of this overview, it is attempted to highlight some causal relationships between parliamentary openness, legislative transparency and parliamentary information visualization, and discuss the potential and limitations of PIV not only in terms of technical solutions but also with respect to human factors and political aspects that need to be considered as further determining the success or failure of PIV efforts. In this line of thought, the concluding section of the article provides a discussion on the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats that can be identified for parliamentary information visualization, as well as on dimensions and specific checkpoints that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of PIV efforts, as regards the end objective of citizen empowerment.