Madrid’s Local Forums

Local Forums of Madrid are spaces for participation, where neighbors and non-profit entities can meet to discuss and work on initiatives to improve the city based on their diverse perspectives. There is a Local Forum in each of the 21 districts of the city. In this sense, the Forums establish their functioning through the Organic Regulation of Functioning of the Local Forums of the Districts of Madrid (December 2016).

This initiative, along with the future approval of the Public-Social Collaboration Ordinance of Madrid, forms part of the two pillars belonging to the new government team, known as Madrid City Council, which are: 1. The decentralization of decisions to the main actors (the District Boards) and the territorialization of the actions; 2. The opening of institutions to the participation of citizens and their associations for the improvement of democratic quality and good governance.

The first Local Forums were established in February 2017, after replacing the former Territorial Councils of Madrid (which were comprised by public utility associations only and limited by number as well as an exclusive selection process. The Forums, on the other hand, include both citizens and all types of associations in each district).

The Local Forums have the ability to adopt agreements for initiatives and proposals that will have a referential character for the presidencies of the Municipal District Boards; that is, the agreements considered are then elevated to the competent decision-making body. In this way, they are the vehicle of active citizenship (both organized and individually) in the design, development and evaluation of municipal public policies.

The Local Forums have the following fundamental objectives:

  • Generate an area of territorial participation accessible to all people living in the city on an equal basis, regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, ideological or religious belief, origin, coexistence or cultural group, disability or any other personal or social circumstance.
  • Create a space and channel that facilitates the intersection of collective and individual participation, with the notion that both parties will be essential for the comprehensive expression of citizenship in public affairs.
  • Promote the associationism and the articulation of citizenship in its different forms of organization and expression.
  • Design a space and an area of information and accountability by the local administration, as well as facilitate dialogue, deliberation, proposal, and evaluation of municipal public policies between citizens and administration.
  • Bring decision-making and public management closer to citizens in the different territorial scales. Thus, Local Forums promote processes of decentralization and participation as it proceeds in a democratically advanced society.

In this research project we will study the Local Forums in the districts of Fuencarral and Moratalaz as urban and socioeconomic transformative experiences in both districts. The selection of these two Forums will allow us to make a comparative study using the application of this initiative in different contexts (socio-economically, organizational culture and social capital). Specifically, we will focus on studying the role that civil society (citizens and associations) have in the Forums and how its collaboration with the local Administration allows for the elaboration and execution of cooperative new public policies.