IGF 2018 WS #160
Killing me softly with his vote: a battle for legitimacy

Organizer 1: Lucena Claudio, Researcher, FCT Portugal, Professor, UEPB, Brazil
Organizer 2: Olga Kyryliuk, The Influencer Platform
Organizer 3: David Morar, George Mason University
Organizer 4: Varsha Sewlal, ISOC NCSG
Organizer 5: Aida Mahmutovic, CIG

Speaker 1: Olga Kyryliuk, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 2: Varsha Sewlal, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Salvador Camacho Hernandez, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Martin Silva Valent, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Bruna Santos , Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Cláudio Lucena, Professor, UEPB, Brazil/FCT and Católica Lisbon, Portugal, Civil Society

Online Moderator

Aida Mahmutovic, Program Manager at One World Platform, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Civil Society


David Morar, Assistant Curator at Digital Watch Observatory, USA, Academia


Round Table - 60 Min


Moderator will start the session with introductions and short overview of the issue, and present briefly how the team started to work on this topic. Each speaker will describe the situation as seen from his/her country perspective in 5-10 minutes. Interventions and clarifications are expected as part of the debate. Taking that into consideration, 30 minutes will have been used. The remaining time would be open to participants, both attending onsite and remote ones, in an attempt to confirm the observation, to find common aspects, points of touch, discrepancies.


For this session we will bring together experts from Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine, South Korea, and the USA to provide cross-country and cross-regional insights. We will also have a perfectly gender balanced panel.

During the session we will discuss the role of ICTs’ in fostering populism. The specific focus will be paid to judiciary power being confronted by populist groups all over the world. Such confrontation usually takes the form of either a representation claim (questioning the legitimacy of judges themselves) or a political claim (questioning the inconsistency of judicial opinions). Activism might be, thus, contributing to populism.

The volumes of information, smaller part of which is of truly high quality, generates trust crisis. Even though populism is a world-wide phenomenon, some countries achieve the perfection in practicing it to the extent that it becomes the mainstream communication policy. Given that, the winning strategy for a judge is to present himself/herself as a stand-alone figure, independent from institutions, but acting according to good faith standards. By speaking their minds through online media, judges send signals about what future decisions might look like, potentially shaping the behavior of actors outside the court.

We are raising relevant issues from a perspective and with elements connected in a way, which we believe to be new. This discussion has already been triggered in other spaces, and depending on the results of the discussion and its relevance to other countries around the world, apart from the ones we manage to bring into light for discussion, we hope to trigger more comprehensive comparative research and analysis, as well as new inspiring collaborations between different stakeholders.

As for now, we want to draw the attention of a broader community to the risks which are posed to legitimate representation and to a balanced separation of powers in the countries with the dangerous rise of populist trends leveraging the digital space and tools to confront other legitimate state functions.

We will use half of the allocated time for sharing the experiences accumulated so far by the speakers, and then open the floor for discussion, giving space for both asking questions to the speakers and giving other countries’ perspectives that have not been covered by the speakers.

The role of ICTs in the dissemination of populism is not fully explored. Their potential for contributing to the crisis of legitimate representation is enormous due to fast dissemination of thoroughly constructed messages to a broad audience. Using ICTs both populist groups and judges can create an effect of increased visibility. Politicians in many countries and circumstances have been trying to foster the idea that elected representatives are invested in more qualified, at times higher powers than judges. At the same time, judges may tend to use the opposite rhetoric of “us against the establishment”, thus trying to turn negative media coverage to their advantage. In order to retain mass support and trust into judiciary, some judges also actively present themselves as channeling popular sentiment and speaking for the true interests of the people.

Online Participation

We will appreciate interventions from remote participants, since the plan is exactly to publicize and encourage remote attendance and contributions through various social media. The onsite and online moderator will work closely with each other to equally include questions and comments coming from the audience.