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来源:未知 作者:Ana Claudia&nbs 时间:2012-11-11

It was argued at the time of re-democratization, that parties and free elections were not sufficient. It was necessary to create a favorable environment consisting of other institutions, which would ensure the expansion of a decision making space by bringing into politics other social groups besides professional politicians. The core idea was to ensure that such organized sectors- trade unions and popular and social movements – could be heard and could speak out.  

There was, then, a generous bet at stake: that together with the government representatives, the inclusion of civil society players for defining public policies would lead to greater equity and social justice.  By means of such mechanisms –it was believed then, that public policies would become in fact universal by guaranteeing greater coverage and quality in the services provided to the population and reducing the enormous social inequalities.   

We now have a plethora of consolidated participatory spaces, in the different spheres of government (Federal, State and Municipal) and in relation to different public policies. The IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), in 1999, informed the existence of 23,987 municipal councils linked to social policies. In the area of health, recent surveys carried out by the National Council of Health show the existence of councils in all Brazilian Municipalities and States.With Lula’s administration such spaces have grown, especially at national level. Of the 64 existing Federal Councils, 11 were created during Lula’s administration and 9 were reestablished1. According to the Federal Government, it is estimated that nearly 3,5  million people have participated, in this past two years, in conferences at all levels of the Federation.   

But how useful have all such spaces been? What is the meaning of all these mobilizations? What is the role of all this in Brazilian Democracy? It is possible that other social players come to scene by means of these spaces? Have they, by any chance, promoted more equality, more access and better quality in what concerns public services?  

The question we could ask ourselves is: how to improve existing mechanisms for participation? Without discarding or mythicizing them as a panacea for all ills, how to make participatory democracy more democratic and more participatory?  And how to make it a tool for achieving greater social justice?    

The importance of conquered spaces  

It is undeniable that more players participate today in the public debate and that the agenda was in some way enlarged by such participation. Sectors that had once been totally barred from the debate. The councils and conferences are bodies that actual face the public discussion of major issues of national interest. The councils have operated as a means for obtaining information from popular leaderships and also as a pulpit for denouncing, especially the violation of laws and misuse of public resources.    

One of the core objectives of the creation of participatory spaces was to broaden the typical  representation of formal democracy and integrate into the public scene  a new set of representatives of society. In fact, the Brazilian civil society, is increasingly pluralistic, and many sectors have sought to get on the board of the councils as well actively participate in conferences. But we must look closely at who has achieved the boards and spaces to represent whom and what. The imbalances of resources, knowledge and power, in a way, proliferate in these spaces. The question that is posed is: how to effectively allow participation and treat differently the unequal and allow access and effective action? How to pave the way for these organizations that are not structured nationwide? How to deal with those representatives, who practice, so to speak, a double militancy and are often guided by limited partisan and electoral interests?    

Participatory spaces were conceived as something to counterbalance representative democracy. Or, at least, to complement the latter.  But, in fact, we have seen the subordination of participatory democracy to representative democracy. Expectations of participation have been frustrated.  The Government created many participatory spaces, but until now have treated them just as consulting bodies (“escuta forte”2).  This position has been plausibly considered as unsatisfactory by a portion of the civil society 3.   

The respect due to the council as a deliberative body depends heavily on the political will of the rulers and civil society mobilization.   If we presuppose that the creation of participatory tools cannot replace representative democracy institutions but rather complement them, the challenge seems to be how to promote a new institutional architecture in which the representative system can be strengthened and intensified by the inclusion of citizen participation4. 

    Despite the fact that in   Brazil   many participatory bodies such as councils for public policies have been defined as key elements in the decentralization process of policies – especially social policies - , they have not occupied their place in the State structure yet. Instead of complementation between participatory and representative bodies, it seems more appropriate the consolidation of a subordinate combination5.    

The impression conveyed is that participatory experiences in Brazil, tough world widely known, “run on the outside” and are in the periphery of the system and can impact only specifically a certain sector policy and depend on the political will of governments and/or pressure from organized civil society.  They do not seem to result from – or induce to – a deeper strategy combining representation and participation.  In some cases it is possible to say that even when the government allots resources that result in redistributive effects, such procedure cannot be differentiated from the conservative strategies for holding onto power and old pork barrel practices.   

    One of the greatest challenges posed for participation has been the access to information. It is impossible to actively participate if information data are restricted, nonsystematic, unclear and inaccurate. Concerning this issue, the evaluation about the Mexican Federal Law for Transparency and Access to Information of June 2002 is worthwhile.  This law assures all people access to information data that are in possession of the Union powers.  In order to guarantee such law, the Federal Institute for Access to Public Information was created, and it is in charge of spreading the right to information and deciding on denial of requests and protecting personal data in possession of the State.   Civil servants that do not comply with the law or give wrong or partial information data are punished by administrative proceedings.   

Allow the civil society to participate in important economic decisions and to have access to information, can contribute to the improvement and radicalization of participatory democracy.    

Ana Claudia Teixeira and Silvio Caccia Bava are political scientist and coordinators for the Instituto Pólis.  

1          See Reform Platform for Brazilian Political System – debate version on:  www.participacaopopular.org.br
2          The phrase “escuta forte” was used by the General Secretary of the Presidency to name what the process of consultation from entities carried out by the Pluriannual Federal Plan (PPA) held in 2003 would mean.
3          José Moroni, Participamos: e daí?, Observatório da Cidadania, Ibase, 2005, available on
4         Luciana Tatagiba and Ana Claudia Teixeira, “Democracia representativa y participativa: complementaridad o combinación subordinada? Reflexiones acerca de las instituciones participativas y la géstion pública en la ciudad de  Sao Paulo ”, in  Contraloría y participación social en la gestión pública,   Caracas  , Clad, 2007.
5         The idea of a combination of the subordinate character between participatory and representative democracy, under the hegemony of the latter, was brought fort by Lígia Lüchman in a workshop held in   Porto Alegre   in August 2005, as a part of the discussion agenda of the Study Group on Constructing Democracy.   



                      Grassroots Development and Local Governance
                      Forum on Community Governance   

                      Chengdu-China 17-19 November 2010


Colleagues and friends,

I would first like to express my gratitude to my friend Zhuang Ming and to all colleagues organizers of this Forum for the kind invitation which now allows me to reconnect with China since my last visit 17 years ago, in 1993, just some months after the Rio Conference on Environment and Development  which I had the chance to participate with my dual role as then Chairman of the  Council of NGOs Supporting Development ( CONGAD)-coalition of national and international NGOs from North and South working in Senegal - but also as Secretary General of the Federation of Fouta Development (Fafd)- Solidarity coalition of over 105 village associations- Fouta is located north of Senegal. I hope that my next visit to   China   will not wait 17 years again until 2027, but I especially hope that I will have the chance to invite some of you one day in Senegalese or African soil when the conditions are met!

I would like to share very briefly some thoughts on development and governance based on my experience as an actor and leader of development organizations in the historical evolving context of  Africa , challenges and prospects.


1-Historical context and ideological confusion on the popular participation  

The creations of CONGAD in 1982 and FAFD in 1987 happened in difficult contexts in Africa in general, and in  West Africa  in particular   

 a-On the economic and financial side, Brettons Woods Institutions-World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) submitted high pressure to our states by the strict application and overly strict structural adjustment policies that required a revision of our macroeconomic policies and where our states should withdraw drastically from vital sectors with an excessive liberalization in favor of the market.  

b-On the political front, in many regions of Africa democratization process would mature before reaching its peak in the 1990s with the advent of national conferences, where the issue of popular participation to development and the role of African civil societies had already found a favorable echo  and a sustainable basis with the conference in Arusha, Tanzania in February 1990, in an effort to have a calm dialogue between popular organizations of development, the African governments, the NGOs, and the UN System with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) : effort which resulted in the African Chart for the Popular Participation to Development.  

c-But precisely in this general context, a confusion was maintained-willingly or not-in the interaction between the economic and financial side on one hand, and the political side on the other: the demands of State withdrawal advocated by structural adjustments policies in favor of the Market/Private Sector would let think that the sharing of responsibilities between the State and the Citizens were so committed and that free enterprise was synonymous with popular participation, democracy, freedom and satisfaction of basic needs. In the time of adjustments, populations have suffered from lack of water, energy, education, medicines, viable shelter. The need for solidarity within the population and the flowering phenomenon of civil society organizations was almost recovered by:” you see! the State should disengage in order for free initiative to hatch and for people to organize themselves into associations and breath in the air of freedom and positive transformation which only can be hatched through the Market!”. This ideological shortcut distorts very much the conception of good governance in its meaning of harmonious relationship between the 3 pillars of modern society that are the State, the civil society and the market.  

And it is in this sense that I would like to introduce briefly the Fafd experience which is based/enshrined in the forms of inter-village solidarity; these forms of solidarity existed before the creation of our modern post-colonial states and of course long before the new forms of contemporary associations called NGOs.

In fact these forms of traditional and secular associations often based on youth groups of the same age in a district, village, or even in a larger scale are named « Fedde » or « Mbottay » in Senegal, « Tons » in Mali, « Naam » in Burkina Faso , « Samariya » in Niger, «Harambe » movment in Kenya etc…The termed  NGOs has been a continuation of this associative heritage but sometimes inspired by external agents.   

2-FAFD presentation  

The new context of drought and desertification in the ‘70s in the Sahel Region in  West Africa  an area where agriculture was the main economic activity that can no longer sustain the population, witnessed  a  re-naissance of the traditional associations . This situation had major consequences as the exodus of the more valid arms to local other areas in  Senegal , Africa, Europe,   America  , among others, in search of a hypothetical alternatives to agriculture which places women at the forefront of the fight for development at village level.  

In this difficult situation compounded by the withdrawal of Senegalese state in some vital sectors, decentralization completed by regionalization with the main objective of empowerment of grassroots communities for the implementation of policy development of the State. The emergence of Fouta Village Development Associations is part of the  willingness of people to support themselves and control their own destinies.   

Considering the importance of Fouta in economic and social development and the need to unite the efforts of people within a framework of dialogue and solidarity, Village Development Associations (VDA) have established the Federation of Associations of Fouta pour le Développement - FAFD in 1987. (105 village associations )  


The Federation of Fouta Development's Village Association mission is:   

            -Initiate and promote an endogenous development of the Fouta  

-Develop   Capacity   Building   , Training, Communication and   

-Support Economic Organization  .   


In pursuit of its mission, FAFD aims to achieve three objectives:   

-Strengthen organizational capacity of associations.   

-Strengthen Capacities Population Economics.   

-Develop Solidarity and positive inter-village dynamics.    


The FAFD is both a consolidation of various Village Development Associations  which gives it  its character of federation, and a separate entity recognized by the State  as a Non-Governmental Organization.   

General Assembly  

The General Assembly (GA): it is the supreme organ of the Federation.   

It defines the guidelines and policy of FAFD and sets up an Steering Committee .   

The GA is composed of delegates from unions and VDA  members and meets in regular session every 2 years and at any time in extraordinary session upon convocation by the  Steering Committee members or 2/3 of members up to date with their contributions.   

The Steering Committee( SC) is composed of one representative per member and quarter of VDA members of each Union member.  It is the organ of deliberation between two GA.sessions and is responsible to bring the guidelines and major directives of the General Assembly into plans and programmes .   

The SC meets once every four months in regular session and at any time in extraordinary meeting with the call of office of 2/3 of members.   

The meetings are held alternately in the villages of the Federation.   

The village voluntarily committed to organize a meeting of the SC also supports the restoration costs and accommodation of the delegates attending.   

The mandate of the Steering Committee members is renewable each 2 years, Each association member supports the transportation costs of its delegates for meetings. The Steering Committee elects the Board of Directors which will establish an Executive Board, and eventually technical committees.   

The technical Committees are to set up ad hoc committees only if necessary.  They are made in-house expertise and / or external and are responsible to  reflect on a subject and make definite proposals.   

The Board: consists of nine  members. Its mandate is 2 years renewable once. It meets every two months' in regular session and at any time in extraordinary session upon convocation by the President. The President recruits and administers an Executive Secretariat.  

3-Some considerations on critical issues  

The presentation above is showing clearly that the traditional association movement may borrow modern forms of association (often for reasons related to legal recognition requirements from the State; (some Local Administration officers admit that those requirements are not always as innocent as they may appear! )

Number of challenges and threats facing the traditional association movement are to be raised among  which :
   a – The adoption of the official regulatory framework to be eligible for legal recognition puts these organizations sometimes in a straight jacket : a heavy and bureaucratic structure could kill litterally base of solidarity : the richness ,compassion, enthusiasm and spontaneity of members  .
   b - The renewal of leadership and governing bodies are still suffering, especially in rural areas where behaviours related to customs are still persistent such as:
-The perpetuation of the caste and ruling chiefdoms attitude
-The place of women in decision-making and representation
-The birthright in the decision-making and representation
We had several times, almost every day, to cope with burdens related to these habits and customs .

 But the  interesting thing in this zone of intensive youth migration to urban areas and abroad is that young generations return with  another state of mind most inclined to more democratic forms of internal governance at the grassroots level..

c – The relations to the State (to central and  regional agencies and to the local elected officials) were often a real headache regarding for example national development plans that  do not  often meet the preoccupations and basic priorities deriving from the General Assembly meetings of the Federation.
    Therefore, leaders of the Federation have learned very quickly to negotiate with the regional or central authority regarding  the priorities to be implemented. The question that came up frequently during our discussions was: what strategies vis-à-vis the authorities of central and regional level?
Should we build a strategy of direct physical presence of our own leaders in elective positions and thus get our views taken into account –strategy of invade and occupy the place- or should we influence those already elected but who are not members of our own spheres of decision?  

d- Another important issue is the capacity of the associations to deal with the different approaches and requests from different partners( NGO, State, Donors , Northern Decentralized Authorities and Municipalities…etc . Lack of coordination could reflect negatively in the local governance processes
    These are some questions among a number of others arisen every day in  terms of local leadership and good governance.  

Some main ones remaining:-  

1- our capacity to instill and infuse new trends for a real renewal of the leadership without destroying our societal foundations.  

2-our capacity to remain rooted in our culture but enough open to the winds of change  

3-our capacity to think and act autonomously without destroying the space of collaboration and partnership.  

I thank you for your kind attention.  



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