Disengagement of citizens, loss of legitimacy of elected … Dark table than Quebec democracy as presented in the media. The cornerstone of social development, is the democratic ideal really threatened in Quebec? Four thinkers and civil society have focused on “sick”: Claire Bolduc, president of Solidarité rurale du Québec (SRQ); Sandra Breux, Assistant Professor at the Urban Institute of the University of Montreal; Diane Lamoureux, professor at Université Laval; and Michel Venne, Director General of the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM). They offer us their diagnosis of democracy’s health in Quebec and propose remedies.
First, it is clear, according to Claire Bolduc, that the exercise of democracy is no longer done. Apathy, both citizens formal democratic institutions, has taken over the necessary debate of ideas. But for Madame Bolduc, democracy calls for citizen vigilance at all times: “Democracy, this includes the right to vote, but not only. This implies that at all times, everyone, we are responsible for social welfare. ”
The turnout in the municipal elections, according Sandra Breux, one of the indicators to be considered in relation to the democratic health: 45% in 2009 alone. If the election is worrying for dropping Michel Venne, it must be analyzed in light of unfeigned desire of citizens to participate. “If citizens shun elections and parliamentary institutions are dissatisfied, this does not mean they do not want to participate in politics. Citizens express willingness to participate, but beyond the elections. “This lack of participation is accompanied by Mr. Venne, a deliberation deficit:” Deliberation is deficient because the consultations and public debates are structured, usually so that each interest group sets separately its place in perspective to interact with other groups in society. ”
The erosion of civil liberties, including the restriction of political space for expression after September 2001, is another evidence of this democratic malaise. Diane Lamoureux denounced the criminalization of certain events, whether protests against the “G” or various socio-economic summits. “These events, another way for citizens to express their views outside the elections, are treated as delinquency. ”
Examination of causes
The causes of reduced democratic vitality are numerous, whether democratic institutions pending reform of the control and media concentration that deprive citizens of a variety of information, quality and interest public, etc. Diane Lamoureux sees especially in the exclusive representative democracy as the only form of participation a major problem, especially if one notes the disaffection of citizens in relation to elections. If representative democracy is fundamental, it is insufficient when democratic practice is reduced to a single time of voting.
Michel Venne, meanwhile, said the election stall by structural factors. Among them, the impression on the part of citizens to be deprived of their decision-making on certain issues, particularly economic.More and more citizens, especially at local level, believe they can solve the problems themselves, without government intervention, engaging in the community, in the social economy or even in the private enterprise. He added: “We live in the era of continuous improvement: we must improve the welfare state, everyone agrees on that, but on key issues, many people believe that the most serious problems are solved. ”
On the municipal level, the apolitical weighs on democratic vitality. “Political parties are still very few, their affiliation is unclear, they have difficulty in their role of media issues,” says Sandra Breux. How then to promote local democratic debate?
“We must collectively give back to citizens the ability to decide on the present and the future of the political community to which they belong,” Diane Lamoureux advance. Yes but how?
An “educational work” must be performed. This means, for the President of SRQ, to inform citizens of their rights, duties and spaces at its disposal to make its voice heard.
At the municipal level, “the challenge is to politicize the municipal election scene: have real political parties capable of mediating local issues likely to generate debate of ideas” recommends Sandra Breux.”Reviving the democratic play. ”
It is also important to take note of the shift between the citizen and the state. “Citizens want to participate in decisions, it must be taken into account and change our institutions so as to make room for more participation and public deliberation” says General Director of the MNI. “This would improve the quality of public decisions and the general politicization of the population” says Diane Lamoureux.
So Hope is necessary when it comes to treating the patient: Saint-Camille “village-world 1 ” in Quebec and neighborhood councils, via Montreal and his first thought with the development plan citizens, participatory model brings together elected officials and citizens around a common purpose and “living together” is booming. Promising avenues to deploy at other levels to heal the wounds of our battered democracy …