Last weekend we lived one of the most important experiences of citizen participation in the history of Chile. While there was a lot of skepticism about the Municipal Consultation organized by the Chilean Association of Municipalities and we hear comments such as “worthless because it won’t be binding” or “they’re not going to vote, they don’t even vote for the presidential,” more than 2.1 millions of Chileans participated by expressing their views in one vote.
Beyond the results, the important thing is the milestone in itself: a clear demonstration of citizen participation, perhaps one of the most important in our history.
This whole process was supported by thousands of volunteers, who offered their time so that the Citizen Consultation could happen in a timely manner.
To understand this phenomenon, it is worth looking back and analyzing the volunteer trends in our country. According to our survey, in 2006 only 7% of the population claimed to have volunteered last year, while today that figure stands at 32% of Chileans and Chileans. Almost five times more than thirteen years ago.
How do you explain this hike? Some will say it has to do with multiple possibilities to know and learn about causes and organizations. While that is true, I believe that the increase in voluntary work reflects the empowerment and understanding of political space as a catalyst for social change, which should not necessarily be linked to “partisan politics”.
Volunteering is an effective form of citizen participation, in which I not only manifest myself on the street or in the vote, but I actively defend ideals, joining with those people who share my vision of life, creating a better society for everyone in their Environment.
Would the Citizen Consultation have been possible without the support of thousands of volunteers? At the weekend there were no military personnel guarding the polling stations, nor the budget of the central apparatus. This time it was different: volunteers committed to democracy and offered to be members of the table, helping seniors with electronic voting, ordering polling places and thus a long list of activities.
Thanks to all those people who, quietly and away from the chambers, allowed us to live one of the most important milestones of citizen participation in the history of Chile. Right in the month when International Volunteer Day is commemorated around the world.
The content poured into this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.