Decentralization and citizen participation in Barcelona

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The experience of Barcelona highlights both the possibilities and difficulties of moving towards a more participatory democracy. Following the left-wing victory in the 1979 municipal elections in Barcelona, those who entered the town halls, many of whom had come from the social movements themselves, made serious efforts to protect and build upon Barcelona's legacy of civic activism by creating spaces and mechanisms of participation. The 1979 manifesto shows that the neighbourhood movement played a key role not just in demanding democracy, but also in defining the nature of that democracy. Moreover, the active role of political leaders in facilitating participation, even when these leaders are progressive and where their actions respond to the demands of civil society itself, can be counterproductive: the initiative and protagonism passes to local government and away from the self-organization of activists in civil society, which can reduce the incentive for people to participate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublic Participation and Innovations in Community Governance
EditorsPeter McLaverty
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781315245652
ISBN (Print)9780754615668, 9781138258105
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2002


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