Practicing Democracy: Local Activism and Politics in France and Finland

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Such cross-fertilizations may contribute to overcoming the ephemeral nature of their camps and the sporadic nature characterising many recent mobilizations [20] and movements rooted in experience [21] , subjectivity, creativity and horizontal organization. Rather than contesting representative democracy, as many activists claim to do, these movements explore four ways to complement representative democracy and empower citizenship. Taken together, these forms of counter-democracy [22] direct democracy, responsible democracy, argumentative democracy and protest democracy offer concrete ways forward for a multi-dimensional approach to deal with some structural limits of representative democracy and to explore paths towards more democratic societies, which remain to be invented.

This exploratory phase of the research is based on 27 interviews conducted with progressive activists in France, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Poland and Germany as well as participatory observation between January 15th and the 1st of March In addition, a focus group was organized in Paris.

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The results of this exploratory phase of the research are neither exhaustive nor representative. They may however provide a perspective that helps to categorize some parts of the subterranean politics and set bases of further research.

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These research results owe a lot to their efficient work. Kaldor M.


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See Alter-globalization. Becoming actors in the global age , Cambridge: Polity, Fernandez A. Maye D. Murray, R. Kaldor, H. Moore, S.

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Selchow, eds. Expertise is not the monopoly of activists who focus on the European level some experts focus on the local or national debates. However, there is a strong correlation between the importance given to the European scale and to expertise.

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Della Porta, D. Della Porta and S. Tarrow, eds. Sallustio M. The Viola provides a clear illustration. See Emanuele Toscano's analysis. McDonald K. Rosanvallon P. That's just the tip of the iceberg: we've got many more leads to chase down. Find out more and support our work here. If you have any queries about republishing please contact us. Please check individual images for licensing details. These movements emerging across the country arise from the political fatigue currently prevailing in Spain. Outrage turned to action through the M movement.

Since , citizen empowerment has enabled many people to channel their social activism in citizen movements of all kinds against evictions, for a new energy model, for a real democracy… , but also through new political parties committed to new ways of conducting politics EQUO since and above all Podemos since the European elections where it channelled the cultural hegemony of the M movement [1]. In recent years, more and more people have understood that action and transformation from below are essential for change. Similarly, the neglect and incompetence of the authorities in the face of a democratic, social and ecological emergency paired with their collusion with the economic powers have demonstrated that a political presence is equally indispensable.

The innovative aspect of these political participation movements is that they emerge as spaces of convergence between social and local activism and political activism. In particular:.

At this point we must stress the role played by EQUO in the construction of these movements, with a presence in practically all the convergence groups. From the outset, the support base of EQUO has opted for this participation model, precisely because it represents part of the green essence of participatory democracy and commitment to municipalism.

On the other hand, and although in many cases it was not the initial concern of many convergence candidacies, nor the central point of convergence, we have incorporated ecological policies into local electoral agendas, through key issues for the greens such as sustainable urban development, energy efficiency and food self-sufficiency within municipalities, sustainable transport or the abolition of cruelty to animals.

It is difficult to make a precise calculation of the number of candidates who have stood for election, but they will amount to several hundred nationwide. There are several reasons impeding the establishment of a standard model:. Different combinations and intensities of these factors have conditioned the processes and the result itself, with the consequent collapse of convergences that failed to integrate all the local transformation agents. Collaboration, networking and diversity are the elements of this new policy that has its own benchmarks. It is very relevant that the convergence candidacies for Barcelona and Madrid are headed by two women, Ada Colau and Manuela Carmena, without militancy in any party and with a long history of defending rights from their careers in activism and law respectively.

The electoral results of 24 May have mostly supported these municipalist convergence candidacies:. Now it remains to be seen whether the political management of the convergence movements within the institutions will live up to the expectations of their ethical, transparency or accountability commitments. It will also be very important to examine how their relationship with the citizenry is expressed in terms of consultations and participatory democracy.

Furthermore, it will be crucial to see how they put into practice their basic ecological policy proposals, beyond their formal inclusion in the electoral program.


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At a more general level and throughout we will observe to what extreme this new way of conducting politics emerges from their organisation, discourse and conduct. After the social and economic transformation in Polish cities fell into chaos and decline. Many of them suffered from closures of industrial facilities, and crime was on the rise.

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She is specialized in comparative political sociology, and has published on local democracy, gender and politics, practices of everyday politics and citizenship, and methodological issues in political sociology. Luhtakallio carefully excavates the historical, institutional and cultural differences between one nation's practices of democracy and another's, without becoming mired in a swamp of detail, and without reifying the 'culture' of the nations being compared. Its extraordinarily useful and innovative combination of ethnographic, visual, and interview-based research methods, exceptionally clear theory, and a lively writing style make this into a book that non-specialists will enjoy and specialists will need.

The approach is ethnographic, and the viewpoint actor-centered. This is delightful and renders Luhtakallio's book an important and significant contribution to the field of political sociology that has not seemed this fresh and vivid for a long time. It is also a great step in developing comparative research. The approach distinguishes itself as new and radical. The author shows equal familiarity with her two empirical contexts, and her mastery of the French context in particular is outstanding.

Yet, new practices of politicization vary according to historical context and the sense citizenship is given in different societies.