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What is Participatory democracy?
In a participatory democracy you are able to have more say and influence over what decisions get made, and hold the decision makers to account for the decisions that they have made.
A participatory democracy can be compared to a representative democracy. In a representative democracy you participate in elections every few years and vote for a political party or candidate who you think will best represent your needs and aspirations. In effect you have very little control over what decisions this representative makes once you have voted them into power. This is also sometimes referred to as a ‘shallow democracy’.
Participatory democracy is often referred to as a ‘deep democracy’, in that you are able to:
- influence more decisions more often, and not wait for next elections before you can have your say.
- participate in a larger number of decisions in a range of sectors from economic development, education, safety and security, environmental sustainability, health, etc.
- participate in decisions over things that have an effect on your more immediate environment and that are closer to home, as well as things that other scales from provincial, national to global.
- participate in all stages of the development cycle from:
- collecting data on which to base decisions
- participating in the planning processes
- monitoring that decisions made are implemented
- actually implementing the decisions that get made
- to evaluating the success of development interventions
- learning lessons from past intervention for future planning and decision making
Participatory democracy attempts to find ways for you to be able to:
- in the pre decision making phase, have more say and influence in what decisions get made, and
- in the post decision making phase, hold the decision makers to account for the decisions that they have made.