What is participatory democracy and why is it important?


Citizens’ interests and needs should be the focus of every political decision-making process at all different governance levels. It is the heart of democracy that citizens’ concerns are the basis for change. Participatory processes allow exactly for that– they give citizens the possibility to take part in decision-making and to give impulse for change.

There are different levels of participatory democracy practices (information, consultation, dialogue and partnership and many different models to organise participation. Be it a user-friendly interactive municipality homepage, a consultation platform, a Participatory Budgeting initiative or a Citizens Assembly, the aim is always to engage citizens or civil society actors in local, regional, or national decision-making processes on issues that affect their daily life.

The Division of Elections and Participatory Democracy supports public authorities and civil society stakeholders, to establish sustainable mechanisms for civil participation. It also provides innovative tools (“Toolkits”), to implement participatory processes and provides capacity building and trainings for practitioners as well as legal support to create the necessary regulatory framework. Through round table events, expert discussions and public campaigns, it raises local authorities’ and civil society organisations’ awareness builds knowledge regarding International and European participatory standards and mechanisms.

Currently, the Division implements co-operation projects to strengthen participatory democracy in Georgia and in Ukraine. Projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Moldova and Morocco are in the planning.

The Division works closely with the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (CINGO), the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and other Council of Europe entities, who focus on the protection of Human Rights defenders, on the development of Civil Society Organisations and on the political participation of specific sectors for society.