A call to defend democracy!

A call to defend democracy!

The Bulgarian Community for Liberal Democracy (BOLD) is among the supporters of the open letter for protection of democracy, initiated by the Stockholm-based International IDEA and the National Endowment for Democracy

“Post-election: Citizen participation in local self-government” – event program and key messages for an address to the newly elected municipal authorities

“Post-election: Citizen participation in local self-government” – event program and key messages for an address to the newly elected municipal authorities

Program:

Panel 1, “Eco-social justice” (16: 30-17: 15)

Moderator: Vladimir Kolev, BOLD

• Ivaylo Alexandrov, Critical Mass Bulgaria Group – “We do not hinder traffic, we are the traffic”

• Lyuben Handjiev, Free Urban Transport Group – “Free public transport: utopia or opportunity?”

• Meglena Antonova, Greenpeace-Bulgaria – “Civil participation against waste incineration in TPP Bobov Dol”

• Radostina Slavkova, environmental association “For Earth” – “Energy poverty through the prism of heating programs”

• Darina Kokonova, Fridays for Future – “There is no time! We should care!

Panel 2, “Fundamental Rights, Civic Participation and Local Authorities” (17: 15-18: 00)

Moderator: Vanya Kaneva, BOLD

• Alexander Kashumov, Access to Information Program – Access to Information

• Krassimir Kanev, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee – “The rights of assembly and freedom of expression”

• Luba Batembergska, Little Steps – “Children’s participation in a democratic society”

• Alexander Karakachanov – “Civil rights and local government”

Wine break 18:00-18:30

Panel 3, “Children, local policies and civic participation” (18: 30-19:15)

Moderator: Yuliana Metodieva, Marginalia

• Ivanka Shalapatova, For Our Children Foundation – “Citizen participation in the planning of social services for children”

• Nadezhda Deneva, independent consultant – “Engaging municipalities in the deinstitutionalization of children”

• Rosen Bogomilov, Deputy Director, 106th Primary School Sofia – “The municipality and the school: achievements and challenges”

Panel 4 “Empowerment of disadvantaged groups” (19: 15-20: 00)

Moderator: Prof Anna Krasteva, New Bulgarian University

• Katerina Stoyanova, CVC Bulgaria – “Methods for counteracting stereotypes”

• Petar Staykov, Union of the Blind in Bulgaria – “Accessibility of the urban environment for people with disabilities”

• Rumyan Rusinov, independent expert – “The failed Roma integration and the responsibility of municipalities”

• Kalinka Vasileva, independent expert – “Housing policy for Roma neighborhoods”

• Kalina Bozeva, Interethnic Initiative for Human Rights – “Municipalities – the unfulfilled guarantor of effective integration policies in municipal schools”

Key messages for a planned Address to the newly elected mayors and municipal councilors will be finalized during the discussions in the four panels. We shall call on the newly elected municipal authorities to respect and protect the right of citizens participate in decision-making processes at the local level. The discussions will help to highlight some of the key causes driven by civil society in its interaction with local authorities. Messages include:

1. Participation in public and political life and in governance is one of the fundamental human rights. However, it cannot be exercised in a way that violates the rights of others.

2. Civic participation is one of the ways in which citizens can protect their rights, especially when they are violated by the authorities.

3. Municipalities must create conditions for civic participation that allow citizens to exercise control over their policy-making and practices at the local level and to ensure civic participation in decision-making. Participation in decision-making is not limited to the creation of consultative mechanisms.

4. While respecting civic participation, local authorities must not succumb to pressure from anyone when such pressure is contrary to human rights.

5. In the performance of their duties, mayors and municipal councilors must promote civic participation and rely on democratic civil society organizations and movements, applying the principles and standards of good governance established at the European level.