On the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, celebrated each year on 15 September, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Leendert Verbeek, has made the following statement:
“This year, we are marking International Democracy Day as our societies find themselves under enormous strain from multiple crises affecting them – the consequences of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, continued threat of climate change and environmental degradation, migration, social and economic problems and growing polarisation of our societies. More than ever, these crises bring to the fore the urgent need for building stronger democratic resilience of our societies, the need for upholding our democratic values and pursuing our work of strengthening democratic institutions and processes at all levels of governance, and for engaging citizens in order to regain their trust in these institutions.
These crises are also a stark reminder that the work of democracy building is never finished. In the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, we are convinced that this work must be pursued in our communities, to embed democratic values and anchor democracy at the level closest to the citizens. We are also convinced that democratic resilience is built from the bottom up, for the level of our villages, towns, cities, provinces and regions, our territorial communities, and that strong local democracy translates into stronger democracy at all levels. Multi-level governance provides the responses to crises most tailored to citizens’ needs and expectations, and therefore local and regional authorities must be equipped with the necessary resources and freedom to act, as laid down by the European Charter of Local Self-Government. On this International Democracy Day, the Congress is committed to pursuing its mission of advancing and strengthening on the European continent local and regional democracy – which is a landmark feature of Europe’s democratic model.”