FIGARÓ, THE CHALLENGE OF GOVERNING AMONG NEIGHBOURS

via 15M Barcelona Internacional

Figaro

Figaró-Montmany is a little town in Catalonia, with a population of 1,100 people. The peculiarity of this village is that the governance is held by an assembly of neighbours which does not belong to any political party.

For ten years, residents of this town have been in the Town Hall practicing a participatory democracy  with a genuine desire to involve the rest of the people. This citizen participation has two types of protagonists: individual citizens and entities. The political participation is focused on housing, education, environment and urban planning.

One of its pillars is the voting of a participatory budgeting where citizens can decide how to spend the people’s money. Each year starts with a process through which neighbours decide on the municipal budget: specific proposals for small investments as well as priorities for large ones are discussed and voted. Throughout this budget process, residents are actively involved in policy making on a daily basis as discussions continue on the street, in bars, on the football field and even at schools, where children decide over the portion of the budget allocated to them. This process culminates on the day of voting in the ballot box, an act that is already part of the tradition for the residents of this village. The body of the Permanent Committee for Citizen Participation, consisting of representatives of the neighborhood and political parties, oversees the entire process and ensures the implementation of the regulation on citizen participation.

Figaró-Montmany is an example of citizen participation in decision-making and governing the town from the grassroots. For once, a small town is not a big hell as a well-known quote in Spain says. Quite the opposite, Figaró-Montmany is a mirror of change in participatory policy.

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