November 18, 2019
ADDRESS TO THE NEWLY ELECTED MAYORS AND MUNICIPAL COUNCILORS BY THE BULGARIAN COMMUNITY FOR LIBERAL DEMOCRACY (BOLD)
On November 9, 2019, the Bulgarian Community for Liberal Democracy (BOLD) held a series of panel discussions entitled “Post-election: Civic participation in local self-government.” Based on the discussions and the proposals made, we adopted the following Address to all newly elected mayors and municipal councilors:
The popular vote in the local election that ended on 3 November 2019 created a much more diverse political representation in a significant number of municipal councils. While this result may carry certain risks to the effectiveness of governance due to the challenges in forming majorities, we see in it an opportunity for increased dialogue between municipal councilors, as well as an opportunity for a wider range of protected citizens’ interests.
The election also showed support for candidates who had consistently defended the public interest, not so much during the election campaign as between elections – through various initiatives in addressing significant issues articulated by local citizens. This civic message sent through the vote encourages us to state the expectations and make the proposals set out below to the attention of all newly elected representatives of the local government:
1. All policies pursued at the local level should affirm the human rights and fundamental freedoms provided in the international treaties ratified by Bulgaria, the Constitution and national law.
2. In the performance of their duties, mayors and municipal councilors should promote citizens’ participation and attract democratic civic organizations and movements, applying the principles and standards of good governance established at the European level.
3. Interaction with representatives of local communities should be carried out at all stages of policy making – planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Policies should take into account in a fair and non-discriminatory way all the diversity of local communities and the need for adequate communication with each of their segments. The participation of more isolated and less visible groups, incl. minorities, people with disabilities, and young people should be particularly encouraged.
4. Municipalities should provide full and transparent access to information, and respect the right to free expression and assembly. Diversifying the forms of interaction with citizens should be a priority. Given the political fragmentation in many municipal councils, majority in decision making should be sought through such associations that will respect the rights of all groups in the local community through sectoral policies (education, housing, health, ecology, communal services, etc.).
5. We expect the newly elected mayors and municipal councilors to declare a clear political will and, in dialogue with the entire local community, to give a strong impetus to policies in the field of integration and inclusion of minorities and disadvantaged groups. Municipalities and settlements are not only infrastructure, but above all communities whose cohesion is crucial for people’s quality of life. Under no circumstances should a local policy be allowed to cause inter-ethnic conflict, or instill unfounded fears and confusion among citizens.
6. As citizens, we expect the priorities of the new municipal councils and municipal administrations to include the most significant current problems in local communities, namely:
– unresolved local environmental and eco-social problems – including clean air, waste incineration, urban transport, lack of safe bicycle lanes, carbon reduction and capacity to respond adequately to disasters caused by global climate change;
– problems in policies towards minorities and disadvantaged groups – including overcoming the segregated education of Roma children and their inclusion in a multicultural educational environment; poor housing conditions, infrastructure and utilities in Roma neighborhoods; providing an accessible environment for people with disabilities;
– problems in child and family policies – including the planning, opening and management of social services for children and family support, as well as active partnerships with NGOs as service providers; the implementation of children’s deinstitutionalization policies; promoting child participation at the local level.
We hope that our civic expectations and proposals will support the actions of the newly elected mayors and municipal councilors, and encourage them to put in place concrete measures and actions to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, sustainable development of local communities and eco-social justice.
If you also stand behind democratic values and see the need to appeal to the newly elected municipal authorities for their observance, please sign the online petition – https://www.peticiq.com/244460