Rejuvenating Democracy: lessons from a communitarian experiment (FORUM 3)

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Publication date: September 1, 2011

HENRY BENEDICT TAM

Democracy has been weakened in the United Kingdom with citizens increasingly frustrated at not being able to shape government decisions in any meaningful way. State actions at the local and national level are at risk of becoming even more influenced by vested private interests. This poses a major challenge to the democratic health of the country. However, something can be done to strengthen collaboration between state and citizens. This article recounts a large scale communitarian experiment conducted by the author as a senior public official in local and central government between 1995 and 2010, with the aim of empowering communities to become real partners in public policy making. It draws out five key lessons to be learnt from the experiment for anyone concerned with rejuvenating democracy in the UK.

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