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Ketevan Mikadze: Citizens participation and local development

It is widely believed nowadays that electronic government, known as E-government, which implies the employment of modern information and communication technologies for delivering government information and services to the citizens, is crucial to citizen participation. Among other things, it aims to ensure broad public participation in political life and help the citizens to interact with each other and with their elected representatives in the government. 

Public participation can range from information sharing through consultation to more active forms of participation, such as partnerships, that involve strong citizen influence over public policies and services, something that must be their main goal. Effective citizens involvement is essential for good public policies and good governance. Elected officials and citizens play equally important roles in governing local communities.

Local governments must understand that citizens participation is necessary first of all just for local development. People should be involved in dealing with problems that affect their well-being. In other words, local governments must do things for the people and with the people, not instead of them. 

At the same time, citizens participation should not be an obstacle for local government actions. Quite the contrary, it must be an integral part of this action, because its basic mission is to strengthen democratic institutions in a society. In addition, it increases social capital in local communities and their members' readiness to act together for the common good. 

It is crucial for local governments to promote and sustain an environment for the involvement of responsive citizens. Below are some guidelines for elected officials to this end: 

- Value active citizens involvement as essential for the future of the local community.

- Design the policy-making process to make room for different forms of citizens participation (of individuals and of different organizations).

- Provide adequate financial and staff support to citizens participation.

- Provide citizens with an opportunity to be involved in the process of policy development, planning and project development from the very beginning.

- Carry out deliberative processes according to democratic principles.

- Provide training for local government officials and professional staff in the area of citizens participation

- Permanently search and encourage new forms of citizens participation.

 

 

 

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