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Calheta ,  June 10, 2019

Vasco Cordeiro announces two new measures and proposes "Contract of Citizenship" to mitigate abstention

The President of the Government announced today two measures aimed at mitigating abstention in the Azores. On the occasion, he launched the debate on a "citizenship contract" that provides for the recognition of the civic performance of citizens with good record of electoral participation registered over the years.
 
"With the intention of encouraging debate, I launch the idea that, without enforcing mandatory voting, this will be a true 'citizenship contract' on voting as the fulfilment of a civic duty," stated Vasco Cordeiro at the solemn session of the Day of the Autonomous Region of the Azores.
 
According to him, this is a "solution that does not take anything away from anyone, but adds something to those who participate and who contribute with their vote to the life of their political community.
 
There are some basic premises on which this citizenship contract is based, namely the universality of voter registration, whether automatically or not, the freedom to vote or not to vote, which continues to be a right of each citizen, and the concept of voting as a civic duty and not a legal one, that is, the non-exercising of voting rights is not subject to sanctions.
 
"However, the contract also highlights the relevance of civic participation in democratic life by fulfilling voting duties in face of a situation where such participation is nonexistent," said the President of the Government at the ceremonies held at the municipality of Calheta, São Jorge Island.
 
In view of the main danger to democracy - abstention -, it is "necessary to go further, perhaps further than the constitutional and statutory intervention possibilities of the Region."
 
According to him, this proposal is based on the fact that it is not appropriate or fair to treat citizens who have a regular record of electoral participation and, therefore, participation in the life of the politically organised community the same way as those who have freely and willingly abdicated from this participation.
 
"Instead of the most common approach to the situations of non-participation, which are sanctioned in the case of countries with compulsory voting systems, the model we defend values citizens who have a good record of participation, stated the President of the Government. As he emphasised, this distinction can happen in the most varied components of State Intervention or in the services that it provides, from the tax to social areas.
 
"Basically, it is a 'citizenship contract' between both parties in which citizens who have a good record of electoral participation over the years are recognised for their civic performance," said the President of the Government. According to him, this "positive solution is not intended to boost statistics on election night, it rather values the citizen committed to the political experience of his community."
 
At this solemn session of the Region's Day, the President of the Government also announced two initiatives aimed at strengthening the awareness of political participation and the exercise of citizenship.
 
The first measure concerns an initiative to strengthen participatory and proximity democracy among young people as a condition for reversing abstention trend in the Azores for the medium term.
 
Accordingly, the Regional Government will launch a major campaign directed to all secondary school students in the Region, which will also be extended to vocational education. Within the next four years, these young people will be able to exercise their voting rights.
 
"A genuine civic promotion campaign that should be followed up by the political parties represented at the Azorean Parliament. It is not only intended to raise awareness for the importance of voting, but also to instil among more than 9,000 young people throughout the archipelago the importance of their participation in various levels of the democratic life of their Region," stated the President of the Government.
 
According to Vasco Cordeiro, this campaign intends to reach all schools through appealing technological means, being persistent in time and consistent in content. The primary goal is to instil democratic and civic values in this decisive phase of the personal path of each youth so that they may be more participatory and enlightened citizens in the future.
 
Hence, the Government will appoint a committee in charge of defining the programme contents and following up their implementation as soon as possible.
 
In turn, as a measure to increase transparency and citizen participation, Vasco Cordeiro announced that the Government will launch a pilot general public hearing project, starting in September, with the aim of hear citizens on all regional legislative or regulatory decree proposals under consideration at the Council of the Government.
 
"The possibility of hearing citizens will be achieved through the online availability of proposals for legislative and regulatory decrees for a period of 30 days prior to their discussion at the Council of the Government. Those who are interested will have the opportunity to give their input online," stated the President of the Government.
 
"Rejecting the black-and-white view, so much to the liking of some, that the problem of abstention lies only in one of the subjects of this political relation, I believe it is important to recognise that there is always room for improving this relation and, consequently, the electoral participation," said Vasco Cordeiro.


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Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

 
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