International Forum on the Challenges of Citizen Participation, organized by the IECM

The IOPD coordinator gives a keynote presentation at the forum organized by the Mexico City Electoral Institute



On June 29th and 30th, 2020 the Electoral Institute of Mexico City (IECM) organized a virtual International Forum: "Challenges of citizen participation, in innovative schemes and extraordinary contexts".

In view of the current global health emergency, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the local, national and international democratic system must be redesigned so that citizens have access to political and decision-making processes, in order to guarantee their fundamental human right to vote and be voted for. This would thus avoid putting democratic systems at risk, as a result of the postponement and cancellation of elections due to the pandemic, as has been warned in several nations, said the Counselor of the Electoral Institute of Mexico City (IECM) Bernardo Valle Monroy.

The first day of the forum, moderated by the Electoral Counselor Mauricio Huesca Rodriguez, was attended by the Rector of the Autonomous University of Mexico City (UACM), Tania Hogla Rodriguez Mora, as well as the Co-Chairman of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, Bruno Kaufmann, who stressed that representative democracy in the current situation requires autonomous institutions that are not politically biased; public servants and elected politicians responsible; and position the dialogue as the main engine of the democratic system.

The second session of the forum, moderated by the Electoral Counselor Carolina del Angel Cruz, was titled "Modalities of participation, designs and new forms of virtual participation". It counted with the participation of the National Coordinator for the slowU initiative of the School of Humanities and Education of the Tec de Monterrey, David Gómez Abad; the Academic and Researcher of the Autonomous University of Baja California, Alejandra Leonor Salado Íñiguez; and the Coordinator of the Technical Secretariat of the International Observatory on Participatory Democracy, Adrià Duarte Griño.

Duarte presented the Agenda for Local Democracy structured around seven basic axes for participation: local democracy as an ecosystem; inclusion; common goods, community and citizen strengthening; digital infrastructures; evaluation of policies and programmes; local autonomy and relations with other levels; and strategic plans for improving democratic quality.

On the subject of citizen participation at the time of COVID-19, he stressed that the the required distance is physical not social: "It is important for civil society to be present and active, but also for governments and authorities not to be passive spectators, but facilitators of the necessary means for the organization of meetings such as these, in order not to lose contact and to maintain this democratic dynamic".

Duarte pointed out that this stage derived from the pandemic cannot be an excuse to weaken democracy. In view of this, public debate must continue so as to avoid falling into authoritarian discourses.

Democracy goes beyond going out to vote, as we all must continue to defend political and human rights. It is important to continue to work together and share experiences so that democracy can improve much more in this context.  A. Duarte Griño, IOPD Coordinator.



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