Electronic democracy strategy for Bahrain
This thesis attempts to answer the question ‘What e-democracy strategy, if any, is most suitable for Bahrain?’. Based on a qualitative case study for the country, an e-Democracy strategy is synthesised and presented in this thesis. The literature review includes the forms, ideals and values of democracy. The researcher supports and argues for the assertion that any attempt to implement e-Democracy must not undermine the basic values and ideals of democracy. In the review on Islam and democracy, the author argues that Islam is not against democracy. However it is asserted that e-Democracy implementation must consider the cultural and religious context of Bahrain. The process of democratisation and how it is taking place in Bahrain and Gulf countries are also discussed. A strategy formulation framework is adopted after reviewing literature on how to formulate a strategy. E-Government strategies of reading players in the e-Government are reviewed with an objective of learning lessons prior to formulating e-Democracy strategy. The literature review on e-democracy helped to understand the theory and practice of e-Democracy elsewhere in the world and identify issues that required further investigation. The issues identified from the literature were investigated using empirical data. Data from multiple sources were collected and analysed. The methods included interviews, focus groups and analysis of documents. The results confirm that most of the issues identified as part of the literature review are relevant to the case under investigation. However, there were issues that were not present in the literature. This includes the need to consider democracy’s human, social and cultural aspects as well as factors pertaining to the political divide in Bahrain. This, if not tackled properly, may pose some challenges to the implementation of e-Democracy. The results also disprove the assumption held by the government of Bahrain, as well as by the researcher at the beginning of the study, that e-voting is a more plausible type of e-democracy than other forms. The author adapts and presents an e-Democracy model for Bahrain based on Chadwick and May (2003) along with the e-Democracy strategy for Bahrain. The author also argues that the model and the strategy can be tailored to use in other GCC countries. The study fills a gap in the literature, namely the lack of e-democracy studies pertaining to the Middle East. It also provides a framework and lessons for other countries in the region for the creation of an e-democracy strategy.
- PhD