November 18, 2019
ADDRESS TO THE NEWLY ELECTED MAYORS AND MUNICIPAL COUNCILORS OF THE BULGARIAN COMMUNITY FOR LIBERAL DEMOCRACY (BOLD)
On November 9, 2019, the Bulgarian Community for Liberal Democracy (BOLD) held a series of panel discussions on “Post-election: Civic participation in local self-government.” Based on the discussions and the proposals made, we address the following Address to all newly elected mayors and municipal councilors:
The voice of the citizens in the local elections, which ended on November 3, 2019, created a much more diverse political representation in a significant number of municipal councils. Although this contains certain risks to the effectiveness of governance due to the difficulties of achieving a majority, we see in it an opportunity for increased dialogue between municipal councilors and an opportunity for a wider range of protected interests of citizens.
The elections also showed support for candidates who consistently defended the civic interest, not so much in the election campaigns as in the elections – in various initiatives in defense of significant needs stated by local citizens. This request from the citizens encourages us to send the following expectations and proposals to the attention of all newly elected representatives of the local government:
1. All policies pursued at the local level to affirm the human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens, regulated by the international treaties ratified by Bulgaria, the Constitution and the laws of the country.
2. In the performance of their duties, mayors and municipal councilors should promote civic participation and attract democratic civic organizations and movements, applying the principles and standards of good governance established at the European level.
3. The interaction with representatives of local communities to be carried out at all stages of policy making-planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The 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 invisible groups in public life, incl. minorities, people with disabilities, young people.
4. It is necessary for the municipalities to provide full and transparent access to information to the citizens, as well as to respect the right to free expression and assembly. Diversifying the forms of interaction with citizens must be a priority. Given the political fragmentation in many municipal councils, to achieve a majority in their work, to seek such associations that will respect the rights of all groups in the local community through sectoral policies (education, housing, health, ecology, utilities, 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 social communities, whose integration, living together, is crucial for the quality of life. Under no circumstances should one or another local policy be allowed to cause inter-ethnic opposition, instill unfounded fears and confusion among citizens.
6. As citizens, we expect the most significant problems in the local communities to be among the priorities of the new municipal councils and municipal administrations:
– 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, encourage them to concrete measures and activities to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens, 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