Participatory democracy


Let us remember that the term democracy refers to the government or the authority that a people has , it is a form of power that proclaims the principle of subordination of a minority to a majority. In the case of participatory democracy , the phrase refers to those forms of democracy in which the individuals that make it up have a greater opportunity in different political decision-making .


What is participatory democracy?

It is a political model that makes it easier for the inhabitants of a place to have the ability to associate to exert influence on public decisions through referendums that are prepared as consultations and that are presented to government representatives .

  • What is participatory democracy?
  • History
  • features
  • goals
  • Advantages of participatory democracy
  • Disadvantages
  • Forms of participation
  • Mechanisms
  • How it differs from representative democracy
  • Importance
  • Examples of countries with participatory democracy

What is participatory democracy?

Participatory democracy consists of a system of organization in the area of ​​politics that gives citizens more capacity to intervene more actively and more directly in the different decision-making processes that are public in nature .



The term participatory democracy can then be understood as the evolution that occurs in democracy since Ancient Greece in which all citizens had a voice and vote and also exerted an influence on the decisions that were made by the State and that were of a public nature.


The main characteristics of participatory democracy are the following:

  • Take advantage of the different experiences and capabilities of the inhabitants of a place.
  • Society functions as a network that creates a relationship between the government , communities and the population .
  • Promote legitimacy .
  • The government and the different sectoral organizations recognize that they have great advantages when they take citizens into account in decision-making .
  • Citizens have the opportunity to promote initiatives .
  • New capacities are developed in the individuals of a country.
  • They work by practicing collaboration with others, giving rise to better citizens.
  • It improves the quality of life that the inhabitants have.
  • Citizens have greater opportunities to achieve better collaboration effectiveness.


One of the main objectives of participatory democracy is to ensure that the citizen does not limit the role they play within the democratic system at the time of voting , as is the case of representative democracy , but on the contrary, it seeks that the individual have a leading , active and purposeful role within politics , and that is involved at the community , regional and national level .

It is for this reason that the objectives of participatory democracy is to achieve the formation of a society that is made up of citizens who are active , organized and who are prepared to be able to assume a dynamic role within the political scene;  it looks for the form to form individuals who are educated so that they can participate within the political system .

It is for this reason that its objective also involves the participation of the citizens in making the decisions that can get to affect, by proposing initiatives , creating debates and assemblies, and publicly say whether they are for or against the measures that have been imposed.

Advantages of participatory democracy

Some advantages of participatory democracy are the following:

  • The people who live there have a greater capacity to influence and participate in political issues.
  • Politics is more humane and a more just society is formed.
  • There is a cooperative environment that is based on consensus.
  • Transparency in decision-making is encouraged.


Among the main disadvantages that can be had with participatory democracy are:

  • There is a lack of professional specializations to be able to deal with certain matters correctly.
  • There is great difficulty in being concise in making decisions.
  • Majorities can oppress minorities.
  • Citizens are not represented in parliament.

Forms of participation

The different forms of participation that occur in a participatory democracy are the following:

  • Participation in Decision Making: through a selection process to elect the members of the government by universal vote.
  • Participation in the Execution of Decisions: through the decentralization of political management in order to achieve a better participation of citizens by strengthening the organizational capacities of civil society.
  • Participation in the Control of Execution: using different mechanisms to verify the development of the process, support it, correct it, improve it or reject it.
  • Participation in Contributions: evaluating the social effort to find perspectives of solidarity
  • Profit Sharing: using the benefits of the State’s social effort as a regulator of the economy and social justice .


It is very important to carefully evaluate and calculate the different participation mechanisms so that when they are put into practice they do not cause fatigue on the part of the communities , since they can feel overwhelmed by having many consultations and debates . The main mechanism that participatory democracy has is the potential participation of citizens in decision-making at the community and municipal level

The popular participation makes it possible that there is a community supervision of officials and thus provides a series of derogatory processes that can be applied to individuals who do not meet the mandates to be met depending on their positions.

How it differs from representative democracy

The representative democracy is the kind of democracy that is characterized by less than one activism by citizens that make up a state so that individuals are limited to elect the representative popular during the voting . Representative democracy focuses on improving and perfecting electoral systems . The participatory democracy is based on citizen activism , this means that the individual is not based solely on electing a representative, but seeking ways to be present in the decision-making, to be an active part in the tasks of the State , and to be more attentive to the actions and decisions taken by the rulers.


The main importance of participatory democracy is that it fosters the ideal that gives greater importance to the participatory democratic system, promoting the formation of a more just, multiple society that has better and greater social inclusion, thus recognizing the different values ​​of the consensus. , tolerance and collaboration.

Examples of countries with participatory democracy

They are two places in the world that are considered as examples of Participatory Democracy and they are Switzerland and California . In these two places, the people who vote mark the policy of the Executive Power in power , and they do so through referendums or binding popular initiatives . In Switzerland, according to its constitution, the people have two types of citizen participation tools, one is the referendum and the other is the popular legislative initiative , which is subject to consultation if it gathers the minimum number of signatures .

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