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Marzo-abril de 2021, vol. 30, núm. 2
Imágenes y verdad/ Images and truth


Transparent information and access to citizen participation on municipal websites

Núria Simelio-Solà; Carme Ferré-Pavia; Francisco-Javier Herrero-Gutiérrez

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Abstract: This study analyses the information and tools for citizen participation on the institutional websites of local bodies to improve participation in the management of local resources in a context following the introduction of Spain’s Transparency Law. The method is based on applying 14 indicators to analyse the institutional websites of 605 municipalities that have over 10,000 residents, located in 9 autonomous communities of the Spanish state. The main results show how the institutional information offered on the websites of the councils analysed does not follow journalistic criteria in terms of accountability, meaning that citizens’ decisions regarding their local governments cannot be based on precise, reliable information. In this regard, in this study we have confirmed that council websites publish very little information on the activity of the opposition or on the plenary sessions, debates and agreements, but do publish information on the activity of the government. Furthermore, they do not make use of web resources for citizen participation, which impedes the transparent, collaborative management of political processes between leaders and citizens. Nonetheless, the results show how political and technical managers are not averse to change if they have access to guidance and incentives to improve the management of information and participation on municipal websites.

Keywords: Public communication; Citizen participation; Transparency; Municipal websites; Internet; Political information; Indicators; Accountability.