64 | 31, pp. 63-86 | doxa.comunicación

July-December of 2020

Open political parties: applying the principles of Open Government to Spanish political affiliations

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

1. Introduction

Open government has the capability of improving public services, empowering citizens, and developing more efficient measures (Abu-Shamab, 2015). This is why scholars, politicians and citizens trust in the open strategies of institutions, which must be based on transparency, participation and collaboration.

Open government has been studied and seen as positive for the administration, and has focused primarily on its application to state and local governments (Ruijer et al., 2019; Bvuma and Joseph, 2019). Research has also been carried out regarding the application of open government foundations in the case of the media (Porlezza and Splendore, 2019) and from the perspective of citizens (Wirtz et al., 2019).

However, no references have been found from the point of view of political parties. This study poses the possibility of extending this type of research not only to public institutions, but to political parties as well, so that the latter can promote the principles of Open government with the aim of getting closer to citizens and becoming more efficient, more transparent, making legitimate decisions, and communicating their policies more effectively.

Therefore, this research aims to define the concept of open political parties and to evaluate their degree of implementation in Spain. As pointed out by Sierra (2018), there are already several organizations that periodically measure the transparency of political parties, nearly all of which have similar instruments that consist of checking compliance with various indicators and applying criteria from a descriptive and quantitative point of view. The definition of open political parties requires a new methodology to assess the degree of openness of these Spanish political organisations.

1.1. The Open Government model

Interest in open government began as early as the last century, but the concept has received much greater attention over the last decade. This rise has several explanations. On the one hand, when Barack Obama became president of the United States in 2009, he signed the well-known Memorandum for Transparency and Open Government, in which he committed himself to promoting access to information, as well as citizen participation and collaboration. On the other hand, various administrations have understood and accepted the technological changes and are adapting their services to them (Ruvalcaba-Gómez, Sandoval-Almazán, Criado and Valle-Cruz, 2019) through the implementation of transparency and open government web portals along with different plans and measures. The fight against corruption has also encouraged this trend toward open government because of the fact that even though it is not the solution, transparency is believed to discourage this type of fraud (Attard, Orlandi, Scerri and Auer, 2015).

In the academic field, interest in this area has also been significant, with a large number of publications of scientific articles, books and communications on open government, transparency and e-government around the world, especially focused on Anglo-Saxon countries.

In practice, the openness of administrations has resulted in the publication of documents and data sets on the Internet. However, as Meijer, Curtin and Hillebrandt (2012) explain, this diminishes the value of open government, which is not only about the dissemination of information, but about relations with citizens as well, and these should not be neglected.