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First Time in Türkiye: Participatory Democracy School

The School on Participatory Democracy is organized in Türkiye for the first time through a collaborative effort between the Council of Europe, Argüden Governance Academy, and Istanbul Citizens’ Assembly.

First Time in Türkiye: Participatory Democracy School

This news published at Milli Gazete on 22 September 2023, at Türkiye Gazetesi on 26 September 2023, and trmonitor.net on 2 October 2023.

Representatives of local governments and civil society organizations from different cities, including İstanbul Adana, and Balıkesir attended the School on Participative Democracy whose curriculum covers Council of Europe’s participatory democracy approach and standards. The discussions focused on the principles and tools for enhancing civil participation at the local level. Participants explored various civil participation tools, best practices, and experiences from different European countries. Topics such as public space design, participatory budgeting, youth engagement, and citizen panels were among the special topics discussed. The School on Participatory Democracy aims to strengthen civil participation at the local level.

The opening remarks of the program were delivered by Ali Galip Yükseltmek, Head of the Strategy Department of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Cornelia Perle, Representative of the Council of Europe’s Elections and Participatory Democracy Division, Tülin Hadi, President of the Istanbul Citizens’ Assembly, and Dr. Yılmaz Argüden, Chair of Trustees of Argüden Governance Academy.

In his speech, Ali Galip Yükseltmek highlighted the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s emphasis on participatory democracy and civil engagement in its work. He emphasized the effective use of citizen and civil participation in decision-making processes, especially in activities such as preparing the strategic plan and conducting participatory budgeting.

In her speech, Cornelia Perle from the Council of Europe emphasized the importance of the active efforts and participation of civil society as well as local governments in strengthening participatory democracy. She noted that former participants of the school continue to collaborate as a network, highlighting that this five-day exchange of knowledge and experiences will have an impact on the future.

Tülin Hadi, President of the Istanbul Citizen Assembly, stated in her speech that strengthening participatory democracy and civil participation in cities are their top priorities. She explained that the purpose of organizing this school is to introduce standards, principles, tools, and best practice examples that municipalities and civil society organizations can use to enhance civil participation. She emphasized that as skills in using civil participation tools develop, practical work can be implemented more effectively. She underlined that participatory democracy is a culture, and sharing best practices is essential for its continuous development.

In his speech, Dr. Yılmaz Argüden, Chair of Trustees of Argüden Governance Academy, emphasized that “Trust is the essence of good governance, the foundation of sustainable development and quality of life. Building Trust and Reinforcing Democracy is a key priority for all OECD countries and informed, inclusive stakeholder engagement is key for building trust.”

He continued to explain that initiating the ‘School on Participative Democracy’ in Türkiye is a natural extension of the Academy’s work to improve the quality of governance, such as the Municipality Governance Scorecard©Local Development Guidestraining programs for public and NGO managers, and the awarding of the European Label of Governance Excellence (ELoGE) for identifying and promoting good governance examples among local governments.