The Madrid City Council, governed by PP and Ciudadanos, advances in its strategy of reducing citizen participation in the municipal politics of the city. A decree signed this Monday by the delegate of the area of Territorial Coordination, Transparency and Citizen Participation, Silvia Saavedra –of Ciudadanos–, will prevent residents from participating in the plenary sessions of the district boards. Just when normality is restored in these spaces with the return to the presence of 100% of the representatives of the municipal political groups as of October 1.
The provision also establishes that each municipal group may be accompanied by a councilor who is not a member of the municipal board. However, it closes the door to retake the participation of the neighbors, who will only be able to present their proposals in writing five days before the plenary session and whose response will only reach them in the same way, through a piece of paper. Citizen associations will also be limited in their participation in these spaces.
The Saavedra area, dependent on the Vice Mayor’s Office of Begoña Villacís, justifies the measure published this Monday, September 13 in the Official Gazette of the Madrid City Council (BOAM) on the health situation caused by COVID-19. However, the Organic Regulation of the Districts, in its article 81, establishes that in a plenary session only a maximum of three people (neighbors) who have requested it in a timely manner may participate.
This closure to the participation of neighbors in the plenary sessions, therefore, supposes that the presence of even three more people in the plenary hall is prevented without taking into account the capacity of each of the buildings in which they are held. . With the provision, residents who want to raise an issue related to the session may present it in writing, five days in advance of the session and will also answer in writing, since the session is held behind closed doors. The measure also prevents residents from attending discussions on local issues at those district boards.
In the case of the representatives of the associations and citizen entities whose initiatives are to be debated, their attendance of the district plenary session will be limited exclusively to the specific moment of their participation in the debate, establishes the provision published in the BOAM. Yes, the person holding the proximity counseling will be able to attend the entire session.
Article 5 of said regulation stipulates, however, that the Municipal District Board is conceived as a collegiate body of political-neighborhood representation. For this reason, for Más Madrid, the provision published this Monday in the BOAM supposes “curtailing the exercise of the fundamental right of political participation, recognized in article 23 of the Spanish Constitution,” denounces the councilor for the training Carolina Pulido. And he adds: “This government team intends to prevent, through a decree, the face-to-face participation of citizens precisely in the closest institutional body, the Municipal Boards.”
The measure published this Monday came on the same day that the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, announced the end of time restrictions in hotels and nightlife and also put an end to capacity in cinemas and theaters to starting Monday, September 20. “We attend uncontrolled crowds of people on the terraces in the center of Madrid, in the subway cars … but they resort to health security as a pretext to prevent the participation of neighbors in the full district, coincidentally at one point in which the creation of platforms and citizen mobilizations against the construction of parking lots, the proliferation of terraces in the center of the city, etc. proliferate “, regrets Pulido, who announces that Más Madrid will take the appropriate actions to try to correct this new” democratic abnormality.
It is not the first recent measure that has curtailed citizen participation in the political life of the capital carried out by this government team. As we were advancing this Tuesday, Somos, a media associated with elDiario.es, the City Council governed by Almeida advances in the end of the Participatory Budgets that Manuela Carmena launched in 2016. Also through the Participation area with Saavedra in front, the BOAM collected this Monday the “declaration of the supervening non-viability” of 182 citizen projects that received enough votes to be approved during the editions of the years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. It is the final step for their definitive elimination, after the department That it depends on Begoña Villacís announced a year ago that it had concluded most of these citizen initiatives inherited from the previous stage.
Before this, this government team ended the City Observatory, the Local Forums –which were suspended only ten days after Almeida took office– and culminated in the eviction of different associations of municipal spaces, such as EVA Arganzuela, Chamberí House of Culture, among others. The next few months will determine if the end of the presence of the neighbors in the district plenary sessions is really a sanitary measure or will it be permanent.