Strasbourg, Alsace (F), 10 October 2012
The conclusion is clear: the financial and economic crisis that we are experiencing spares no one, and has political consequences all around the world. This crisis is partly rooted in globalisation and is often associated with populism movements, community decline and with an increasing desire for independence.
Regionalisation is a counterweight to globalisation and an antidote to the political instability that threatens certain countries. It allows for decision-making processes that are closer to the individuals, it takes into account cultural, social and economic specificities and identities, distributes public finances between more or less successfull territorial entities and, ultimately, it enhances political participation of the entire society.
Decentralisation of powers is essential when creating a new model of governance – that of participatory democracy, based on citizen’s involvement in decision-making processes, in the life of their communities and society at large. According to the principle of subsidiarity, local authorities are better able boost the voice of their citizens beside Government and Institutions. More than a principle, the word encompasses a concrete reality: that of a level of decision-making that knows how to capitalise on its proximity to the citizens on the one hand and, on the other hand, on its prvileged relationship with the State for the recreation of a strong democratic alliance.
These were the conclusions of the conference-debate “Regionalization and democracy” co-organised by the Alsace Region, the Congress of the Council of Europe and the Assembly of European Regions within the framework of the 1st World Forum on Democracy. More than 450 people joined in for the debate, testimony to the fact that the issue of democracy around the world is a major topic for citizens!
What was said:
Michèle Sabban, President of the Assembly of European Regions: “Let us rediscover the authentic spirit of the ancient Greek democracy, when democracy was fully embodied and it maintained the concept of a government led by and for the people. The initial idea of ancient democracy couldn’t avoid undergoing major changes over the centuries, and if it has gained in proportions to appear today as the most fair political system, it has also distanced itself from its basic component – the citizens. I call for a local democracy more than a principle based one, a democracy of the people more than one of concepts, a democracy that wins and will always win by standing closer to its citizens. I hope that together with all our member regions we can help new democracies around the world build a stable foundation and offer a democratic and serene environment to their citizens! “.
André Reichardt, First Vice-President of the Alsace Region: “I would take the French example: 30 years ago France was going through decentralization. Skills transfer advanced step by step, especially in Alsace which, for the past ten years, has been pilot region for the direct management of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The example of my region fully proves the effectiveness of policy when decisions are made closer to the citizens. And democracy has everything to gain from it!”
Jameleddine Gharbi, Minister of Regional Development and Planning (Tunisia): “Regionalisation is the structure of the natural sphere. Democracy is the structure of the public sphere. Consequently, the structuring mode adopted by the political regime influences, in a similar way, the regionalisation and the governance system. Indeed, the political regime stripped of dominance and dictatorship was characterized by an instrumental relation with the world, a mapping of power, a sacralisation of dominance and the supression of the individual. The current government, stemming from the revolution, is putting into place a more symbolic and normative relationship with the world, a mapping of the distinction, a demystification and deconstruction of power and institutionalisation of democratic action.”
Kim Jae Hyo, Secretary General of the North East Asian Regions (NEAR), (South Korea): “Citizens request greater participation in public decision-making because aspirations have increased with the emergence of New Information Technologies and Social Network Systems”.
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