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Cities are for citizens, declares Taipei democracy city summit
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Cities are for citizens, declares Taipei democracy city summit

Agency News

Taipei, Taiwan, Oct 7 : The International League of Democracy Cities has called upon all the cities of the world to take the path of direct democracy with the purpose to accomplish the goals of open government, citizen participation and transparency.

The International League of Democracy Cities held its first ever City Summit in Taipei on Saturday evening as part of the 2019 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy (GFMDD) convention in Taichung city from Wednesday until Saturday. Opening the summit, the GFMDD co-president Bruno Kaufmann said Taipei has the pride to organise the first ever summit of this kind.

“We are writing history today. More than 60 per cent citizens of the world live in the cities today. The cities are the places where democracy is learnt. It is the cities where participatory leadership can be trained and deal with the issues related to water, climate change, etc,” he pointed out, adding that Taipei was the natural choice for the first ever City Summit.

“With this summit, today, we reinforce our commitment towards democracy,” said the GFMDD co-president. In his remarks on the occasion, the Taipei mayor Dr Wen-Je Ko said the Taipei City Government was working towards its vision of open government, citizen participation and transparency.

“Since 2014, the city has provided its citizens a variety of direct democracy tools such as participatory budgeting, online voting, and the city open data platform,” said the mayor adding that it was a pleasure that the GFMDD selected Taipei as a host for signing ceremony of the International League of Democratic Cities.

“Democracy in Taiwan will grow further,” he declared in the summit. The mayor of Anyang city in South Korea, Dr Choi Dae-Ho, said the Candlelight Revolution has changed the politics in his country. “The Candlelight Government in South Korea is accountable to the people. The people of the country have adopted direct democracy by popular vote,” he said, adding that the government has to answer when people have issues. “When the people ask, the government answers,” he said, concluding that the people even have a right to participate in the budget making.

Introducing the Magna Charta of the International League of Democracy Cities, Mr Joe Mathews, co-president of the GFMDD, said direct democracy was true representation of people. “Democracy is about working on more democracy all the time. The cities have shown the path to us. And we are here with the Magna Charta cities where people freely speak to each other, where people support each other. In a nutshell, the cities are for the citizens. I hope that the International League of Democracy City will connect all the cities of the world so that freedom, liberty and speech are respected.

A brief founding ceremony of the International League of Democracy Cities was also held in which a Magna Charta of the International League of Democracy Cities was signed by representatives of the founding cities. They included: Mayor We-Je Ko (Taipei-Taiwan), mayor Dr Choi Dae-Ho (Anyang-Korea), director Regula Buchmuller (Bern-Switzerland), director Marco Banti (Brno-Czech Republic), director Johanna Seppala (Helsinki-Finland), councilman Yosuke Yamashita (Kashiwa-Japan), director Thomas Scuderi (Metz-France), director Bernardo Valle Monroy (Mexico City, Mexico), chairperson Huang-Sheng Wu (Taichung, Taiwan) and Prof Mehdi Ben Mimoun (Tunis, Tunisia).

The purpose of founding the International League of Democracy Cities is to implement direct democracy through the local governments in the cities and establish the fundamental principles of citizen participation under the framework of direct democracy. The global passport to modern direct democracy was also released in the Chinese language for the first time. It has been published by the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). This passport gives a basic introduction to the tools of direct citizen participation and the definitions of a variety of key terminology in modern direct democracy. It includes useful information for supporters of citizen participation, journalists covering modern direct democracy, public administrators and representatives, and even for opponents of direct democracy.

Later, several panellists like Prof Dun-Yuan Chen (National Chengchi University Taiwan), Prof Yun-Hsiang Hsu (National Central University Taiwan), Prof Kai-Hung Fang (Shih Hsin University Taiwan), Ms Caroline Vernaillen (community manager, Democracy International, Germany), and Ms Adria Duarte (coordinator, International Observatory of Participatory Democracy, Spain) took part in the discussions in the Democracy City Summit. A dinner was also hosted by the Taipei City Government in honour of the international guests followed by the award ceremony, etc. (UNI)