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Local Democracy Assessment Guide

Producer: 
IDEA (71)
Source of the information: 
IDEA (71)

 

The purpose of the Local Democracy Assessment Guide is to systematically review and catalogue the quality of representative as well as participatory democracy in a city. In particular, it aims to:
• provide municipal officials, administrators, partners (such as non-government organizations), and civic leaders with a practical tool to conduct self-evaluations of democratic life in their city;
• identify the principal strengths and weaknesses of democratic life and ways to further consolidate strengths and to rectify weaknesses;
• investigate the contributions that local or city level democracy makes toward overall consolidation of democracy in democratizing societies;
• stimulate further thinking on the ways to define and describe the best ways to structure and practice local democracy; and
• give outsiders, such as peer reviewers, a tool by which to conduct independent and impartial evaluations of democratic governance at the city level.

The information needed for this assessment is both objective and subjective. Primary data collection is through meetings, workshops, interviews and discussions conducted by local teams. Publicly available data collected though documentary sources is used to double-check subjective information.

The Local Democracy Assessment comprises 15 ‘assessment areas’ grouped under three themes: the city in context, the quality of representative democracy, and the quality of participatory democracy. Each one of the 15 assessment areas is assessed based on a detailed list of questions. The Guide is an interactive questionnaire applied through participatory research and which relies on an intimate knowledge of local situations. Each theme is assessed based on a fairly comprehensive set of
questions.

Assessment teams typically consist of a representative of the national association of local municipalities, a representative of the local authority, an academic with an expertise in public administration, and an individual from civil society. After completing the questionnaire, the assessment team synthesises the findings in a report and discusses them critically, identifying areas where consensus exists and where it does not. The most significant problems are identified in each area, and recommendations are made by the team in the form of an “action plan” for improving local democracy.

THE CITY IN CONTEXT
1 geography and spatial features
2 demography, social relations, and human development indicators
3 economic structure and municipal finance
4 human rights and human security

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY
5 national and legal frameworks
6 electoral system design and performance
7 party system
8 evaluating elected officials
9 election administration
10 evaluating voter participation
 

PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY
11 local authorities and participatory democracy (openness, fairness, transparency, responsiveness, accountability)
12 civil society, the private sector, the international community and the media
13 forms and methods of citizen outreach
14 evaluating citizen outreach
15 referenda and citizen’s initiatives