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The challenge of participatory democracy in Brazil, Portugal and Spain

by Richard Meckien - published Feb 18, 2016 06:15 PM - - last modified Jun 04, 2019 11:47 AM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Sylvia Miguel.

The challenge of participatory democracy will be the topic of the third meeting of the IEA's Laboratory of Global Megatrends and Challenges to Democracy, coordinated by Portuguese political scientist Álvaro de Vasconcelos, a former visiting professor at the USP's Institute of International Relations (IRI). The guests will take turns in several thematic roundtables on February 26, from 10 am to 6 pm. The debates will take place in the IEA Events Room.

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Besides Vasconcelos, the debate will have the moderation of Professor Pedro Dallari, from the USP's Faculty of Law (FD), and Martin Grossmann, director of the IEA.

The issues to be addressed at the event The challenge of participatory democracy: Brazil, Portugal, Spain are the crisis of representation and the requirement of participation, social networks and civic action, and arts and the requirement of participation.

"In one year we have seen numerous signs of a deep crisis of representative democracy and an almost universal objection of the parties that have sustained it. Striking examples of this trend are the Brazilian political crisis, elections in Portugal and Spain, and American primaries featuring an emergence of right-wing and left-wing 'anti-system' candidates," says Professor Vasconcelos.

According to him, an expert on international security issues, the need for social participation is the result of a global trend towards the empowerment of citizens who question the political and cultural monopoly of traditional institutions.

To Vasconcelos, citizens are increasingly favoring a democracy and a more participatory culture, which reflects the very action of civil society in information and digital culture, promoting the development of social networks.

In parallel to the political participation, there is "a huge loss of popularity for democratic institutions and, paradoxically, the lack of interest in political processes."

The political scientist believes that the democratic system has difficulties in responding to the demands of citizen participation, and the result is the extreme polarization and the growth of populism, which are "serious disintegration factors and threats for the future of democracy."

Other issues to be addressed during the debate are: the political and cultural impact of the demand for social participation; the ability of political systems in Europe and Brazil to adapt to the requirements of participation and ensure the necessary forms of representation; the lessons of the recent elections in Portugal and Spain; the balance of the Brazilian experience of participatory democracy; the forms of action by civil society in the era of information society; and the analysis of the impact of digital culture on the future of democracy.

Trends: The crisis of representation and the requirement of participation is the opening theme, which will have the moderation of Professor Pedro Dallari. The following speakers are expected to participate: former Minister of Education Renato Janine Ribeiro, a professor at the USP's Faculty of Philosophy, Languages and Literature, and Human Sciences (FFLCH); professor Reginaldo Nasser, course coordinator of International Relations at the Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP); Marina Mattar, from the Free Pass Movement (MPL); Adrian Campos, curator of the exhibition on Arabic Cinema; and Massimo Cannevaci (IEA), among others.