Social media and online news threat to local democracy
A study by Zurich University is suggesting the Swiss system of local elections and direct democracy is under threat due to the rise of social media and the collapse of regional papers.
Political scientist, Daniel Kübler, examined voter turnout and the availability of local papers in over 400 communes.
He determined in areas with a strong local press turnout was higher.
Regional papers are under pressure from free sheets and the internet. This has led to closures and mergers.
The result is fewer papers not covering local issues. He suggests it’s time for non-profit foundations to start to provide local news.
But voter turnout has been falling for years, even before the internet. In the 1970s, turnout in Zurich was over 70% - in 2014 it was 37%.