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Deliberative methods: Council of Europe Congress calls for greater citizen participation beyond elections

Deliberative methods have become one of the most innovative ways of deepening citizens' participation in political decision-making and contribute to strengthening public trust in the political process, argued Karl-Heinz Lambertz (Belgium, SOC/V/DP), presenting a report adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities at its 42nd Session on 23 March 2022.

"Deliberative processes increase transparency and citizens' confidence in the decisions that are taken," the rapporteur stressed. Indeed, these forms of non-electoral citizen participation allow a randomly selected group of citizens to formulate proposals to the authorities. They correspond to the principles outlined in the 2009 Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in local affairs, which will mark its 10th anniversary of entry into effect on June 1.

The report offers guidelines for municipalities and regions, illustrated by case studies at the local and regional levels: Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Oud-Heverlee (Belgium), Scottish Climate Assembly (UK) and Ostbelgien (Belgium). "Thanks to the participation of citizens, the action plan of the City of Mostar was adopted unanimously, taking into account their recommendations in the spending plans of public services," said the Mayor of Mostar, referring to the Citizens' Assembly organised within the framework of the project "Building Democratic Participation in the City of Mostar" implemented by the Congress.

The Congress calls for the further implementation of deliberative methods at all levels of governance, identifying specific issues where these mechanisms could contribute to the decision-making process. It stresses the need to plan the whole process, to allocate the necessary time for citizen deliberation, and specifically, to define fair criteria for the selection of participants. The deliberative process could be institutionalized by ensuring that local governments are provided with the necessary financial means.

See also :

 Video of the debate

 Report CG(2022)42-12

For further information :

42nd Session
AgendaWeb fileMultimedia (Live webcasts, interviews, videos and photos)

42nd Session Strasbourg, France 24 March 2022
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