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Legislatures around the world are experimenting with online petitions as a means of enabling the public to express policy preferences. In many countries they have attracted an extraordinarily large number of signatories, but it is often unclear what, if anything, they achieve. This article addresses this important question through an analysis of the UK P -petitions system. Drawing on a review of historical and comparative research, it develops a new analytical framework which identifies fourdoi:10.1332/030557319x15579230420117 fatcat:wbmkyylgabhwnd6ixnt7tg45zi