More and more people are taking the initiative to make their local neighbourhood more liveable, for instance by helping to maintain playgrounds or green spaces. As a result, the relationship between government and society is changing.
Many people feel a sense of commitment to their neighbourhood and are actively involved in activities to improve the quality of life there. This is called ‘citizen participation’. For example, local residents engage in voluntary work, organise litter-clearing campaigns, set up collectives to purchase solar panels or form local care cooperatives. They may also be involved in the decision-making about the municipal budget.
As local residents become more involved in public life, the role of government needs to adapt and take greater account of initiatives in the community. This is called 'government participation'. It means local authorities playing a more supportive role, for instance by providing facilities or making them available. In addition, municipalities can use neighbourhood budgets to help residents get things done in their area.
Do-ocracy: new ways for citizens and government to work together
Active citizens don't want the government to provide standard solutions for everything. They prefer a tailor-made approach and authorities that think along with them. So citizens and government are devising new ways of relating to each other and working together – in what is often called a 'do-ocracy'. Central government is keen to promote and support this form of democratic collaboration.
Government support for citizen participation
The government can support citizen participation in various ways, for instance by abolishing unnecessary rules and regulations wherever possible. Like the complex application procedures volunteers sometimes have to contend with to obtain funding for their activities.
The government supports citizen participation through a variety of forums and organisations, such as:
- ProDemos, an organisation that promotes democracy and the rule of law. ProDemos wants to get more members of the public involved in issues like democracy, society and politics.
- The Movisie national knowledge institute, which aims to create a society of self-reliant citizens.