This 31-page PDF was used to guide Jay Hartling and Laura Wells’ well-received workshop at NCDD’s 2006 conference in San Francisco. The lively lecture-style presentation and discussion examined action beyond dialogue, and the intersection of state institutions, civil society organizations and neighborhoods through preliminary research on the implementation of Venezuela’s new Law of Communal Councils. Presenters discussed the convergence of political will and pressure from grassroots communities to support a bold shift to a truly participatory democracy. The session also shared information on different approaches to democracy in other regions of the globe, particularly the global south.
Democracy is more than free and fair elections and the ability to choose leaders to represent our views. It is also about creating a healthy civil society, an active political culture, and providing ample opportunities for the incorporation of all people into the political, economic, democratic, cultural and participatory process.
Venezuela has institutionalized representative AND participatory democracy in its constitution, its laws and in practice. This is a work in progress, as Venezuela moves away from 40 years of elite rule to an inclusive, democratic and participatory structure that facilitates the active involvement of all citizens in the development, implementation, management and evaluation of public policy.
Jay Hartling and Laura Wells
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