XI Congreso de la AECPA (IV). Political representation and citizen participation: whan can political theory bring to institutional reform?

Notes from the XI Congreso de la AECPA. La política en tiempos de incertidumbre, organized by the Asociación Española de Ciencia Política y de la Administración (AECPA), in Seville, Spain, the 18-20 September 2013. More notes on this event: 11aecpa.

Political representation and citizen participation: whan can political theory bring to institutional reform?

En el contexto en el que nos encontramos, con una crisis económica que no solo está mostrando las debilidades e ineficiencias de nuestro sistema político, sino que comienza a afectar a su legitimación democrática, resulta imperioso revisar la organización y el funcionamiento de nuestras instituciones más básicas. Pero hacerlo exige huir de propuestas de reforma reactivas, condicionadas por la coyuntura y dirigidas a corregir malas prácticas, y a hacer un análisis de nuestras instituciones democráticas que tenga en cuenta la enorme complejidad de los procesos políticos en sistemas multi-nivel, cuyas instituciones apenas han modificado su diseño o sus fines para tener un mejor encaje en el sistema final, o para que este adquiera una mayor coherencia como un todo. Este panel tiene por objeto presentar las aportaciones teóricas que pueden ser relevantes para orientar globalmente esas reformas y mejorar la calidad de la democracia, centradas en la renovación del discurso de la representación política y la participación ciudadana (Anskersmit, Saward, Warren, Mansbridge, etc.) y su repercusión institucional (rol de los parlamentos, mecanismos deliberativos, representatividad de los grupos de interés, etc.).

Participative Democracy in local Mexican governments: the country capital
Ernesto Casas Cárdenas.

The republican perspective approaches negotiation and agreements as endogenous.
Deliberation requires:

  • Equity in socioeconomic terms.
  • Equality before the law and sharing of values.

Hypothesis: Success of participation is related to the commitment of the authorities with the agreements achieved.
Informal relationships between citizens, civic organizations and authorities have a key role in relationships, but can logically hurt formality.
Conclusions:

  • Informality and scepticism of political parties are important barriers to the development of participation.

Liberal and democratic? The participative theory of civic neorepublicanism.
Rafael Vázquez García, Aleksandra Sojka

Can civic neorepublicanism integrate the values of liberalism and of communitarism?
It seems that after WWII democracy is not working: is too much formalist, infested with protocol, non-participative. Can we bring participation back into democracy?

  • Less participation weakens democracy.
  • Civil society as a fosterer.

Civic neorepublicanism:

  • Plurality of groups
  • Autonomy between different spheres of life
  • Publicity in interaction
  • Privacy as space of moral development of individuals
  • Necessary legality that enables its functioning.
  • The health of democracies relies on moral commitments.
  • Volunteer associations.

Obedience to law has to be accompanied with moral values and strong criticism: civic disobedience is, thus, highly democratic.

Democracy, crisis, alternatives and the reproduction of the patriarchate
Jone Martínez Palacios.

Has participative democracy taken into account the gender issue?
The social contract that builds societies and democracies has surely not taken into account the feminine factor but, on the contrary, is reproducing the patriarchate of society. In this sense, democracy is not in crisis, but <em>was born</em> in crisis.
It now seems that there is an ongoing regeneration of democracy in which a new contract is being drawn and agreed, led not by the three democratic powers but led by the fourth power of civic participation.
The problem is that most participatory or deliberative democracy experiences are not explicitly addressing the issue of a sexual contract.
Proposals

  • Link the economic debate to the democratic debate.
  • Deepen the quality of democracy, including a notion of gender.
  • Take women as full citizens.

What is represented. A renewed approach to the concept of representation.
Gonzalo Cavero Cano.

Context:

  • Diversity of values
  • Multilevel systems
  • Giving away of sovereignty
  • More actor in the political arena
  • Elected and non-elected actors

Weaknesses of representation:

  • Distance between representatives and citizens
  • Centrality of the representative vs. Importance of what is represented
  • Non-electoral representation

Changes:

  • Complex institutional system
  • Difficult accountability
  • Globalization and ICTs
  • Multiple political arenas and models of governance
  • The “simple mechanism” of representation becomes a “series of complex practices” (Lord & Pollak, 2013)

So, besides the crisis of representation, is there also a crisis of legitimacy of the model?
Does not seem so.
The constructivist turn of representation (E. Severs)

  • Centred in the communication processes
  • Enables studying extra-parliamentary actors.
  • Based on scheme of principal – agent – representation.
  • Representation is more seen as an event, a process, rather than a “moment”
  • This model puts into the equation of representation actors that were usually labelled as participation or civil society.

Conclusions:

  • More a crisis of performance, more than a crisis of model
  • Concept of representation is in tension
  • The constructivist approach can contribute to explain a more complex reality
  • “When we become more familiar with institutions and we cease to question the justifications of their existence, they atrophied by disuse”

Yes, they do represent us? Contemporary challenges to the idea of political representation in Spain.
Pedro Abelllán Artacho.

Two big issues in Spain that challenge representation: the 15M Indignados movement, and the Catalan independentist movement. Possible approaches to these phenomena.
15M:

  • We want representation
  • We want “complete” democracy
  • We have representation, but “those ones” do not represent us
  • In this model we cannot be represented

We need an idea of representation vs. Representative government
Complex sovereignty and will: apply Quebec to Catalonia
Catalan independentism:

  • Recognition and presence, now
  • I am Catalan because I speak Catalan / live in Catalonia
  • If you are Catalan you are not Spanish
  • They do not want us

Identity as a basis for democracy.
Application to the 15M: identity between representatives and represented citizens.

XI Congreso de la AECPA (2013)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2013) “XI Congreso de la AECPA (IV). Political representation and citizen participation: whan can political theory bring to institutional reform?” In ICTlogy, #120, September 2013. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4121

Previous post: XI Congreso de la AECPA (III). The effects of the economic crisis in Spanish democracy: legitimacy, dissatisfaction and dissaffection

Next post: XI Congreso de la AECPA (V). Political behaviour and political communication

2 Comments to “XI Congreso de la AECPA (IV). Political representation and citizen participation: whan can political theory bring to institutional reform?” »

  1. Muchas gracias por recoger lo expuesto en el panel y de forma (creo) tan clara y precisa.
    Ha sido una alegría encontrarse con este trabajo.
    He cambiado el lugar de trabajo (ahora estoy en Viena) pero sigo interesado en los mismos temas, básicamente la relación entre la representación y la participación política, así que si necesitas cualquier cosa ya tienes mi email.
    Un saludo y gracias otra vez por el post

RSS feed RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Your comment:


Warning: file_get_contents(http://ictlogy.net/wiki/api.php?action=query&list=recentchanges&rclimit=20&format=json): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.1 503 Service Temporarily Unavailable in /home/ismapi/ictlogy.net/common/common.php on line 657

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/ismapi/ictlogy.net/common/common.php on line 664

About Me

    I am Ismael Peña-López.

    I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia, and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university. During 2014 I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.