Welcome to our Campaign Journal

for an effective democracy, political literacy is just as important as the ability to read and write

Friday, 26 March 2010

Why Democracy Matters

Why democracy matters

People do not trust politicians, parties or the political process. Membership of political parties and turnout in elections has fallen dramatically. Many people feel powerless to influence decisions. Many do not take part in collective decision-making at any level, in their neighbourhood, local or national government.

Many people simply do know who is responsible for decision-making or who represents them at a local, regional, national, European or global level, let alone how to influence decisions.

Yet many people are active citizens - as members of community associations, school governors and in campaigns. They are active in grassroots movements for community development, fair-trade, rights for people with disabilities, Transition Towns and many other issues.

But our formal political system does not connect well with the many forums and movements where citizens are active. It does almost nothing to involve those who do not take part or do not know how the system works.

This lack of trust and connection matters greatly.

Democracy matters because it is the way in which we, as a society, make collective decisions about how we live and the rules, laws and people that govern us at a local, national, European or even global level.

We believe that our society should be governed by and for all citizens, as a democracy. That is,

• all citizens are free and equal before the law

• citizens have equal access to power

• citizens’ civil and political rights are protected by law

• citizens can organise freely and influence decision making at every level

• laws are made by elected citizens in an open, transparent and accountable manner

For democracy to be real, people need to know how the system works, how they can influence decisions and how they can play an active role. For this reason, people need to be able to learn how to engage in politics in a way that is meaningful and effective. They also need to be able to develop confidence, skills and voice through active participation in community associations and civic forums at a local level.