THE USE OF THE INTERNET TO SUPPORT AND DEVELOP DEMOCRACY
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The realization of the idea of e-democracy is an important part of the information society, the establishment of which is a priority for the EU. The article analyses some of the aspects of e-democracy and their importance for strengthening democracy, democratic institutions and democratic processes. Its primary objective is to determine the conditions for implementing of the idea of e-democracy in Bulgaria by defining the key problems related to e-democracy and the causes thereof. A large amount of data was subjected to comparative analysis to determine the current status of the information society, e-government and e-services in Bulgaria and in other European Union countries. The author has put emphasis on the essential role of social media in the process of implementation of various forms of electronic democracy.The author's main thesis is that information and communication technologies (ICT) are a prerequisite and a very important factor for the development of e-democracy. However, the use of the Internet in various forms of democratic life depends heavily on the degree of the e-readiness of the country, its efficient e-government and e-services, the sustained interest of its citizens in participating in its governance and their requirements for transparency and free access to information, its government and civil organizations, the adequacy of its egislation, the level of development of its civil society and its drive for continuous strengthening and development of democratic institutions.