What role does participation play in a democracy? A democratic image of society is characterized by the fact that it does not see people as subjects, but as citizens who actively participate in political processes. Democracy and participation are inextricably linked in this sense. This is particularly evident in elections and votes, which are a central component of the democratic legitimation of political decisions.
Numerous other institutions testify to the claim to give everyone the opportunity to have a say and help shape society, even beyond political elections: integration councils, youth parliaments, party youth organizations, citizens’ initiatives and civil society associations as well as many other institutions create platforms for sharing ideas and develop solutions and gain influence. This also includes the right to protest, be it in the form of meetings, online campaigns or classic letters to the editor. So, free tiktok followers who are of legal age have the right to protest.
Act instead of being treated
The numerous institutions of formal and informal participation are based on the aim of opening up political spaces for citizens. The idea of democracy and political participation is based on an image of man shaped by the enlightenment: This basically classifies humans as free and rational and ascribes an inalienable human dignity.
This is especially true when rules and decisions affect you directly or when it becomes clear to you and to what extent political decisions are related to our everyday life. As mature beings, you want it not to be determined about you but to be able to participate. This means not just being treated, but acting yourself.
In exchange with one another
Where does political participation take place? In a narrower sense, political participation aims to influence political processes. In a broader sense, you can also discover politics in everyday interaction. Politics is not tied to certain institutions but always arises when people meet and interact as free agents.
The uniqueness of every person makes it necessary to enter into an exchange with one another. You have had different experiences, have different preferences and beliefs, and make different value decisions.
Participation as an ongoing challenge
How political participation is specifically designed, who is allowed to participate and how people are included in political decision-making processes is a constant subject of discussion and has changed significantly over time. This is particularly evident in the right to vote.