What is popular participation?

Popular participation is the involvement of all citizens in the decision-making process of a country since they are potentially affected by or interested in a decision. It is a political principle and practice which recognizes the right of the citizens to participate in the decision-making process; or put appropriately, political process. The term ‘popular participation’has been used interchangeably with the concept or practice of stakeholder engagement or public participation.
 Public participation implies that public contribution will influence the decisions affecting their lives. Popular participation may be regarded as a method of empowerment, which is vital component of democratic governance.
     Democracy follows directly from the ideal of political equality interpreted in terms as equal intrinsic worth of individuals. Political equality is a central ideal in all conceptions of democracy. This brings about inclusiveness of the citizenry and equal opportunity to influence political agenda and decision-making. The democratic system can only be sustained and nurtured by collective intelligence and inclusiveness, shaped by the participation of the whole community or society.
   The idea of popular participation of the citizens in politics can be said to be part of  “people centred” or ‘human centric’ principles or advanced as part of a “people first” paradigm shift. The role of public participation in political, economic and human development in general was enshrined in the 1990 African charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation in all democratic systems. Since then, public participation has become a central principle of public policy making, as all levels of government strive to build citizens and stakeholders into their policy-making processes. This is viewed as a toll intended to measure attainable objectives, evaluate government and identify lessons for future pratices. Apart from participating in voting, public opinion and performing their civic rights, citizens now involve in budgeting and environmental planning and governance.

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