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Title: Decentralisation in Venezuela and citizen participation in local government: the case of local councils for public planning and the communal councils
Authors: Araujo, Xiomara
Keywords: Decentralisation
Public participation
Local governance
Communal councils
Local councils for public planning
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: © Xiomara Araujo
Abstract: Venezuela began a process of decentralization in the late 1980s as part of a major period of institutional reform designed to restore legitimacy to the discredited political system of the time. The first efforts towards this end did not complete the process of decentralizing political power, since they did not open more spaces or channels for citizen participation in public affairs. With the adoption of a new National Constitution in 1999, however, new channels for citizen participation were opened through the creation, amongst other mechanisms, of the State Councils of Public Policy Planning, the Local Councils of Public Planning and later, the Community Councils. The primary objectives of this thesis were to analyze the degree to which this decentralization process has improved local governance in Venezuela. More specifically, the investigation focused on exploring the effectiveness of the measures introduced to enhance civil society participation in public affairs. The analysis draws upon and attempts to integrate insights from a range of academic literatures including those dealing with: the debates surrounding good governance , organizational and institutional theory, decentralization and civil society participation in public affairs. Rich empirical research into the degree to which the decentralization process has promoted citizen involvement in decision making involved the exploration of a wide range of secondary materials and the conducting of interviews with key actors and participants within the programmes under investigation. Key findings include the observation that the creation and operation of the Local Councils of Public Planning and Community Councils have led to the evolution of a participatory process that has been marred by a lack of legal continuity, institutional disorganization and a lack of awareness of the existence of the mechanisms (and some suspicion regarding their intentions amongst the general population). Outcomes have also been heavily influenced by the political polarization that exists in contemporary Venezuela. The community councils in particular have been the subject of considerable debate within the country with opinion sharply divided along political lines as to whether they represent a radical new vision of decentralization or another way to further centralize power within the hands of President Hugo Chávez.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/7002
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Geography and Environment)

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