OnPartDel is a research project dedicated to analysing the role of Spanish political parties in the online deliberative ecosystem. Grounded on a systemic approach to deliberation, this project seeks to study the contribution that parties make inside the democratic deliberative system both internally (as organisations employing organic deliberative channels) and externally in relation to other political actors and citizens (focusing particularly on Twitter as a privileged site for online political discussion).
The aim is to fill a gap in the study of parties as key actors in modern democracy, whose role in the shaping of the public sphere and political deliberation has been mostly disregarded. Their continued survival despite substantive technological changes deserves further research, especially since parties are organisations subject to contradictory pressures to promote or hamper deliberation: on the one hand and in a short-term perspective, they are “electoral machines” interested in homogenising their public discourse and minimising internal dissent; on the other and in a long-term perspective, they are democratic actors increasingly in need of legitimation and social linkage, that justify the opening of channels for participation and deliberation for members and citizens.
In light of these considerations, this project seeks to fill this gap by analysing and evaluating the deliberative potential of parties’ new digital platforms and their use of social media. And it proposes to do so by focusing on the five main parties in Spain (PSOE, PP, Vox, Podemos, Ciudadanos), contributing insight from the interesting case study of a country whose public sphere has been substantially transformed in recent years, due to the breakthrough of new parties that have widened the political spectrum.