Spanish municipal organiser to bring radical democracy to Dundee ahead of local elections

Electoral Reform Society urge members of the public to “act as if they own the place” ahead of local council elections in May

A LEADING organiser in Spain’s powerful municipal movement will speak in Scotland ahead of May local elections to help Scots engage in a more direct form of local democracy.

Pantxo Ramas, an activist and researcher who has extensive experience with movements for municipal democracy in Spain and Italy, will pay a first visit to Dundee as he tours the country. Local elections are typically quiet affairs in Scotland and the UK, with low turnouts.

But movements like Barcelona en Comú in Barcelona and Conferenza Permanente per la Salute Mentale nel Mondo in Trieste in Italy are challenging the nature of local governance with mass popular participation.

Speaking to CommonSpace, Dundee event organiser Joe Lafferty said: “Dundee is an exciting city. There is a lot going on. And while there are many positives there are still significant challenges. This event is an opportunity to bring the people of Dundee together to discuss the issues we face in our communities. And not just talk, but plan, and take action. What can we do together to make positive change. Our hope is that there will be at least one concrete action from the day we can take forward to make a difference.

Background read: Building a counter-power

“On the one hand this is about extending democracy by choosing to get involved. Both current community activists and others of us who have seen democracy as a vote in an election once in a while. Democracy is at its most effective when it is local and accountable. This, along with the wider ‘Our Democracy’ events happening elsewhere in Scotland are also an opportunity to campaign for structural reform of our local democracy. Combining both is vital, and so too is hearing success stories where local engagement has led to change. So this event will hear local, national and international stories where local democracy activists are making breakthroughs. We’re particularly excited to be hearing from the municipal movement in Barcelona as part of our event. If you live in Dundee or nearby, please come along (it’s free).” 

Emerging out of squatter’s movements and a diverse range of other social movements in some of Europe’s most austerity battered cities, municipal movement are challenging the traditional structures of democratic representation by bringing engaging their support base in programmes for structural change.

Other speakers at the event in Dundee’s The Shore venue on 18 March include the director of the Electoral Reform Society Scotland (ERSS) director Willie Sullivan and Derek Robinson of the University of Dundee, who’s Minecraft on the Waterfront project helped school pupils engage in the city’s waterfront regeneration.

The Scottish local elections will take place across Scotland on 4 May.

Readers can book a free place at the event here.

Picture courtesy of ERSS

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