The Basque Government has launched a new project targeting citizen participation in peace building. The aim of this initiative is to promote direct online and offline channels of participation permitting all local citizens to convey their contributions and proposals to institutions and political parties. As a direct consequence of this program, over 20,000 opinions and proposals were received, 100 online and offline discussion forums were organized, and more than 1,200,000 accesses to the web site were registered. This form of participation enriches democratic participation and is set to become the loudest cry for the end of violence in the area.
The Peace Process in the Basque area has recently collapsed after 2 years of secret negotiations between ETA and the Spanish authorities. The Basque Government is trying to reframe the situation by encouraging civil society to play a more active role.
- 50 local fora were organized during 2007.
- Youth, University and Diaspora For a have also taken place.
- More than 20.000 personal contributions have been received.
- 106 municipalities are promoting new peace Fora in 2008.
- Conclusions have been sent to the Parliament and political parties.
- An evaluation report has been distributed to 1000 local entities.
Basque citizens were invited to put their opinions and proposals across on how to construct peace through on-line channels (web questionnaires, direct messages to the parties, reflections in the blog) and off-line channels (free-phone line for people who do not have access to the Internet, mail shots to all homes in the Basque Country, municipal dialogue forums, etc.)
- Local opinion makers. Local forums were established according to a protocol that invited students, civil servants, business leaders, trade unionists, NGOs representatives, religious leaders, women’s’ groups and teachers. The main goal of this protocol was to guarantee a group of people with different ages, sex and social conditions as well as all political opinions. Local politicians attended as observers.
- Academia. Basque university has been considered a priority due to its permanent contact with the different social strata. 7 university forums were organized at the Basque University based on similar rules to the municipal forums. The members of these groups include students, lecturers and administrative staff from the three different university campuses (Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria), and the faculties of Social Sciences and Information, Medicine, Law, Philology and Psychology.
- Young adults, women and the Diaspora. The Basque Youth Council launched a specific initiative for youth associations to communicate their opinions and proposals to the institutions and political parties. Similar areas of participation are also available via the Basque Women’s Institute, Emakunde and Basque communities inside and outside of the EU (France, Belgium, Argentina, the USA and Australia).
Basque Presidency and CICR