Brazil has not experienced any sort of major agrarian reform since then, but dozens of rural movements have been organised and hundreds of thousands of landless peasants have acquired the right of access to land (especially through settlement projects) as a result of these social movements’ struggles. After so many years of fighting and popular mobilisation, what are these movements’ contributions to building rural democracy? This study seeks to understand this process by evaluating social movements’ alliances (both rural and urban alliances) and evaluating their relationships with political parties, especially with the Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT) and with the Brazilian Federal Government.
Has political regime change led to changes in state-society relations? This study begins to address this question by analysing rural movement efforts to exercise newly-won citizen rights. The specific focus is on rural civil society initiatives to use the “right to know” as a tool to bolster long-standing campaigns to build self-managed, community-based economic development institutions, to bolster peasant influence over the policy process, to defend human rights, and to respect indigenous rights.
To be a strong peasant movement in a place like Chokwe, Mozambique requires going beyond ambiguous compromises to develop collective political thinking and to develop the capacity to use political power in ways that ensure that governmental and non-governmental organisations that help the peasantry act in line with what peasants wish and need.
The Civic Driven change Initiative is a recent thinking and debating process to explore and communicate a perspective of change in societies that stems from citizens rather than states or markets. The initiative is meant to kick-start a public debate about and beyond aided-development.
‘Citizens’ participation’ is a fashionable political concept, but one that increasingly means all things to all people. It is time to reclaim ‘participation’ from those who would use it simply to legitimise existing political institutions. This issue of Eurotopia explores different models of participatory democracy in Europe.
Anna Pizzo is a director of Carta (a partner in Eurotopia), and has been a councillor for three years in the Lazio region. Inspired by the experience of Porto Alegre, she has been working on ‘the borderline’ between the movements and the political institutions, in order to open up the Lazio regional council to the demands and pressures of the movements.