With two-thirds of the world’s poor rural poor, rural democratisation is clearly relevant and urgent, but at the same time an especially difficult--and underestimated--challenge. If democracy is to be organically rooted in any society, the struggle to “get there” must systematically be opened up to integrate rural poor citizens system-wide, taking stock of their aspirations and, more importantly, their existing efforts to gain control of decision-making affecting their lives.
Since the awakening of the squares in 2011 the political atmosphere in the Spanish state has changed dramatically. “Frustration, despair and fear, instead of being channelled towards the far right, have gone towards the creation of opportunities to meet other people facing similar situations, support each other and resist.”
Everywhere – from Brazil to Britain, from Barcelona to Berlin – the reality behind the language of ‘participation’ is contested, complex and contradictory. To encourage and support participatory democracy, a political party has to lead processes of experimentation, critical reflection and challenge, through which people are able to educate themselves to become subjects and therefore knowing actors.