“Local democracy: building trust”
Co-designing local democracy together with citizens and practicing open government
At its meeting in Strasbourg on 4 April, the Congress Bureau approved the biennial theme of European Local Democracy Week (ELDW) 2019-2020, based on the proposals of the coordination meeting participants:
Our societies nowadays are facing a democratic and institutional crisis, resulting in a growing loss of public confidence in democratic institutions and politicians, as many citizens do not feel that they are properly represented nor protected.
However, local authorities still enjoy a relatively high level of trust as the closest level to citizens. This proximity helps to ensure a strong social fabric of communities and a political bond with citizens. Trust between people and authorities is key to the good functioning of democracy, and local authorities are key to strengthening public confidence in the democratic system of governance. This grassroots level is an ideal one for participatory democracy as it ensures a substantial degree of people’s engagement in public affairs and decision-making, and provides an excellent platform for using innovative practices and tools.
Using this potential will be the challenges for future ELDW participating cities, in particular by practicing open government. It is a simple but powerful idea that governments will work better for people if they are transparent, participatory and accountable.
“Trust is really important. People do not trust politicians, but actually, at local level, people do have more connection with the people who represent them. I think it is necessary to reengage citizens and young people in particular. […] Showing people that they can make a difference at local level, whether it is through participatory budgeting, or local referendum […] is a really important task as it can build trust also in national and global governance” said Bryony RUDKIN (United Kingdom, SOC), ELDW Spokesperson since 2019, during the 36th Congress Session in April.
The towns and cities of the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe and beyond, and their national associations, are invited to apply the new theme by means of activities aimed at stimulating citizen participation at local level. In line with the new modalities of the ELDW, the participants are encouraged to organise events and activities under the new theme during the whole year, culminating in a flagship event in the week of 15 October.
Get involved in the 2019 edition of the European Local and Democracy Week in order to reinforce local democracy!
More information on the concept and thematic ideas will be proposed to participants, who will be invited to register on the official ELDW website, as soon as the registration is open.