Developing democracy – an analytical summary of the Council of Europe’s acquis analyses the context and activities of the Council of Europe’s work to enhance democratic institutions, in particular through adopted texts – conventions, charters, recommendations or resolutions, thus providing a stocktake of the Council’s contribution to the multi-stage process of making democratic institutions work at the different levels in member states. Formal rules have to be created; they then need to be recognised by the relevant political actors; over time they are embedded into institutions; and finally, their implementation must be monitored. All these stages have been accorded significance within the acquis.
This publication argues that, in expanding its acquis, the Council of Europe should consider clarifying and bringing together the values and basic principles that it seeks to articulate through the diversity of its instruments. The Council should also explore the current and historical reasons which have led to varying interpretations of the acquis, and which have given rise to some very different practices in the member states. It will be the Council of Europe’s task to reflect upon new directions for democracy to take in the future which will help accommodate these changes.
Lawrence Pratchett is Director of the Local Governance Research Unit and Reader in Local Democracy at De Montfort University in Leicester. His research and publications focus on a range of issues around local government and democracy, especially: electronic government and electronic democracy, citizen engagement and participation and public service ethics.
Vivien Lowndes is Professor of Local Government Studies at De Montfort University, and her research and publications focus on citizen participation, social capital, local democracy and institutional design. Her most recent research is on local political readership and on local variations in political participation.