When we elect leaders, we give them the mandate to make decisions and implement proposals on our behalf.
They make proposals that affect us directly or indirectly. We can directly influence policies and decisions that affect us by participating in open forums, airing our views on social media platforms, and forming platforms to air our views.
A democracy that allows citizens to directly contribute their views on proposals and policies before implementation is called participatory democracy.
In a participatory democracy, citizens craft policies and amendments to the present law. Elected leaders implement the policies. This ensures that citizens are involved in making decisions that affect their social and legal wellbeing
Here are seven examples of participatory democracy today.
1. Citizen Assemblies
The local and the national government provide access points where citizens gather and air opinions on emerging policies and proposals.
The access points can be town halls, national stadiums, or parks.
Citizens meet with local or national governments and politicians and discuss upcoming laws and policies. The final draft of the law or policy considers the citizens’ input.
2. Government Initiatives
The government forms initiatives to seek votes on an emerging issue.
When a government wants to change a law or legalize an issue, the citizens air their opinion through the ballot.
The initiative comes through a petition by a registered voter, which must attain a certain number of signatures.
The government electoral body verifies the signatures and puts the proposal on the ballot.
Citizens will vote for or against the proposal. If the proposal wins, it will be implemented.
The legalization of cannabis intake and same-sex marriages are examples of some of the issues discussed under a government initiative in the United States of America.
3. Social movements formed by the government
Local governments use social media to get public opinions on proposals.
The government officials post a proposal on social media in the form of a question or a suggestion and encourage the public to air their views.
The national government can get the view of its citizens by creating a question and answer session on social media.
The citizens air their concerns and the government addresses some.
4. Referendums organized by the government
When the government proposes a constitutional amendment or a new law, the citizens are allowed to vote for or against it.
If the citizens vote for the proposed law, it is passed and included in the constitution.
A referendum allows citizens to decide on laws governing them and proposals that work to their benefit.
One demerit of referendums is that it does not give enough room for discussion.
5. Online open discussion forums
Citizens are allowed to participate in discussions through electronic devices. Experts on the proposal facilitate the forums.
The forums provide legislators with additional views from the public.
The experts create interactive sessions to educate the public about the proposal, helping them make an informed opinion.
Citizens are allowed to deliberate and vote virtually on a proposal. The poll results are a reflection of the opinion of the public.
Online forums serve to educate, inform the public, and, at the same time, get their opinion.
6. Liquid democracy
In liquid democracy, the legislature allows citizens to vote on a proposal or select representatives competent in the proposed area to vote on their behalf.
Liquid democracy improves the legislature’s performance by utilizing expert knowledge within the public.
The government can make liquid democracy more deliberative by appointing a delegation of trustees.
The delegation will vote as they see fit on behalf of the public.
7. Participatory budgeting
In participatory budgeting, citizens decide how public money should be spent to improve their living standards.
The government gives the public a role in monitoring and scrutiny of allocations on the budget.
Participatory budgeting improves services offered in the poor areas by ensuring even allocation of funds.
Locals get real control of their budget and push for the most needed services in an area.
Participatory democracy is the best way to involve the public in formulating and implementing proposals in any government, local or national.
It builds trust between the government and its people and improves accountability—the public gains greater development in infrastructure and other services when they draw the budget.