Towards a Brussels Citizens’ Assembly
“En Question” is the quarterly journal of “Centre Avec“, an association located in Brussels aiming at promoting the common good and citizen engagement. The journal addresses ecology, democracy and interculturality with a view to encouraging action for social justice. In its June 2021 issue, the journal reviews challenges facing democracy and ways to overcome them. One of its articles (in French) by Pepijn Kennis, Marie Corman, Florence Prudhomme presents Agora.Brussels:
Agora.Brussels is a citizens’ movement seeking to establish the Brussels Citizens’ Assembly. Composed of inhabitants of the Belgian capital drawn by lot, this Assembly would be endowed with the same level of power as the elected Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region.
Right after its launch in 2018, Agora rallied dozens of volunteers eager to reinvigorate democracy. The new political bottom-up movement participated in the 2019 regional elections, obtained some 3,600 votes and with this a seat in the Brussels’ Regional Parliament. In the same year, 89 people were randomly selected from all neighbourhoods and strata of Brussels population and started deliberating on housing policy in Brussels with the help of experts. In spite of the pandemic, they managed to issue a policy resolution on housing by the end of 2020, which Agora’s elected MP transferred to the Parliament where it is currently being discussed. Work on other pieces of legislation continues in 2021. The article explains the process in more detail and sets out what has facilitated and hampered progress.
In parallel, Agora.Brussels contributes to other initiatives promoting participatory democracy. One of them is an on-line wiki-type database coordinated by Periferia to share knowledge and tools on the subject. We were happy to be allowed to include the URBACT Transfer Guide which is available on the LDnet site. Any interested party is free to use and feed the WIKI and LDnet members are most welcome to do so.