Regiune, regional, regionalizare şi reprezentare politică (Region, regional, regionalisation and political representation)

Regiune, regional, regionalizare şi reprezentare politică (Region, regional, regionalisation and political representation)

 

Dragos-Andrei PREUTESCU Vasile BRASOVANU

 

Abstract. Romania is at a crossroad to shape and redefine its regional territorial-administrative design as an European Union member. A regionalization process is at a controversial point in this moment and is necessarry to see if this process could have a significant impact to develop and consolidate democracy in this country. Following the main aspects of regionalism, regionalization and political discourses amoung politicians, the purpose of this article is to see if their is any kind of connection between regionalization process and the involvement of the citizens in public decisions. More so, the new institutional design could consolidate democracy and increase the public responsabilities from both sides: decision makers and citizens. Doing so could lead to better public policies in accordance with needs, expectations and desires of the citizens. In this way, what is called as „regional identity”, or „local identity” could have more significance in the public imagination and consciousness. Furthermore the so called „movement” for better and developed communities is being shaped in this direction by political discourses and political ideas. What can create better conditions for shaping these democratic options is to have an important political and civic culture once the regionalization process is implemented. The progression of economy, tourism, political representation, culture, and institutions is a consequence of how much these elements are compatible in the regionalization process.

Keywords: regionalization, representation, democracy, identity, community, civic culture.


Introduction

 

Romania faces a moment in which it has to decide on the new administrative forms of state functioning through regions. This happens after a first period of activity as member of the European

Union (2007-2013), whilst not happening to other East-Central-European countries such as Poland or the Czech Republic. The latter ones had, at the moment of adherence to the EU an already functional bounded regional admi­nistrative-territorial structure. In this


respect Romania needs a conceptual structure that can be politically represented (by politicians, aca­demia, elites, NGOs) which can explain the phenomenon, or, if it is necessary to follow through. Considering the tendencies of many EU member states and the effects that the regionalization had to some countries, not only at the admi­nistrative level, but also at the political participation level, and civic attitudes, it is necessary to approach the subject of the present day Romania, and for the formation of an attachment or a culture of regionalization for its citizens.

Up to this moment, the regiona-lization process was showed as more of a rhetoric used by politicians that wanted to captures the volition (more or less conscious) of the electorate. Amidst a crisis identified as being of economical origin, it was ordinary that a dispute about the problem on regional delimitations and the manner of how these would be administrated would turn up to be a necessary point, of the day to day politics. We must remember that politicians are dynamic groups and very adaptable to realities, needs and wishes. The reality is that it is necessary a new institutional approach that would relax the political imaginary of the „majority” and how it sees the administration. Besides, we need to know that regionalization is an effect of decentralization. The fact that we are in need as members of the EU, with a very low absorption rate of the European funds the regionalization would be a better form of integration with the European community structures and a with a greater capacity of attracting funds. Another need tells us that an efficient administration (which refers to a greater extent to transparent spending of public funds) includes the civic attitudes of the citizens, which is a very low level in our country. It is very easy to show this by just observing the percentage of voting voters, without even counting the number of impor­tant regional and local debates. Desires are split between ideas like „closer to us” (the decision maker’s version „closer to the people”), modernization, reformation and local identity, and regional identity. All this is tied to a representative discourse that politicians use, which we will analyze in the second part of this study.

Maybe the most striking idea, at first glance, would be the „local identity” one, which it’s not completely true in its entirety. We must be honest and point out that regionalization is just a motive that mobilizes decentralization (a more important action). In this sense regionalization becomes a public meta-policy (political discourse, political representation, and political necessity) worn by politicians and identifiable for the citizens (only by the creation of an identity, the citizens would take part in the process). This process needs to be sustained   (the   version   of  the political medium) and consciously noted (the version of political theories about efficient governing and consolidated democracy).

We are interested in this study, to delineate the conceptual relations between the ideas of regionalization with, obviously, the other two characteristics, region and regional (maybe just on the level of discourse as impact) and the poli­tical representability, as an necessary element of identifying with this process, both regarding the political decision makers and the citizens of the community. Political representability as a variable of consolidating democracy is created by a participative political culture and a new institutional construct. But, it seems that we are walking along the lines of the type of political representability noted by discourse and methodology in the process of regionalization. On this path we will try to approach political representability because while talking about regionalization where new institutions, new communities and new subordinated relationships emerge all of these are a part of a democracy. More accurately, we are talking about a new bureaucracy, which is „closer to the citizen”. We can also approach de idea of regional democracy having at our disposal the different progress that some regions are following in this respect. We cannot make here, a clear connection with the electoral system because that would  mean   a  more  technical approach. But now we can indulge ourselves in the thought that regionalization is a topic-symbol that must exist for the public, which must be used by the politicians.

This paper is also intended as a study that brings in the attention of specialists, and readers, the way the possible process of the regionalization of Romania could modify civic activity, social development, repre-sentability of the citizens at the local and national level, what road will political culture take, and why not, if the democratic regime would suffer changes that will allow a con­solidation of itself. The authors of this study have tried on the basis of specialized works, theories, quan­titative data as well as reaction by the national press, to capture in a more objective way the characteristics that define the process of administrative-territorial change of this country.

Is there a culture of regional identity that modifies the aspects that are related with political repre-sentability, linking with the afo­rementioned elements? At the very least do we have a tendency of rea­lizing this process or is there a need of such thing? These are two important questions that fundament our approach.

 

Region, regional, regionalization

 

A region is a territorial delimi­tation that presumes an identity support of the population and a materialized institutional autonomy. Even if there is no active admissive law, the region, in the imaginary of the public, exists for a long time. We have the historical regions (Moldavia, Dobruja, Montenia etc.), we have the regions of distribution of the European funds (North-East, South-East, Dobruja etc), also named as development regions, and now we try to delineate more zones, 8 to be exact, in which we transfer authority to the institutions. The dispute was waged between the ruling parties which had very different discoursing views about these regions. The region goes hand in hand with the idea of local governing, and the „aspirations on the identity and local governing could produce even more actions or divisions”1. We know that the purpose of the region in agreement with the process of regionalization „is presented as a level that builds new strategic and democratic governing structures and to complete or partially change the political responsabilities and representability at a national level2. If we are to consider the imaginary of the public and historic memory, the region has clearer delimitations as mentioned beforehand. But if we position ourselves on the new institutional and symbolic frame that comes together with the European agenda, we can say that „regions are not pinned in place”3 or a place is „a reality”, a region is „a choice” and not necessarily one that is desired by its inhabitants4. A problem that many overlook is the naming   of   the    regions.    The positioning only on the basis of the four cardinal points is not enough. Maybe because of this, the regional „effect” doesn’t have a broader attention in part it’s also about the quality of the political discourse and the perceived representability of it in the „ability of calling it a region”5, We would not want to move away of the historic truth and we must assume that „the establishment of a region is shaped by the historic legacy of a country”6 and not the historical legacy of the political parties. A „return to the roots”7 had always had a more honest attachment, and while Romania is still a parish, conser­vative state,8 we have no reasons to not accept this reality.

Thinking about a „Europe of regions” we must know that it is necessary to take a leap from the national-state to the federal-regional (in the last phase) without having the time to increase nationalistic sentiments in the establishment of local governance. Taking on the idea of the distinguished Vasile Puşcaş, „a region represents a subdivision of the economic territory of the member states, established by statistical reasons. Furthermore it assumes the pre­existence of administrative units (as a geographic area having admi­nistrative authority capable to undertake administrative or political decision making for that region in a legal and institutional frame of the state members)”9. In the end the national-state   of   the   XX-XXI century, communicating in an open Europe, was an act of stability. As problems begin to be more current, as are the discrepancies of development in various regions, and not only for the nation-states, thus the European theory of „from close to closer” (as in local, county, regional, national) there can be created conditions for progress (as in development). Maybe so, the citizens are more attracted to be a part of the process, feeling more attached to „what its closer to them”, the local and the regional. Nevertheless, what is more interesting, is that what has started as an instrument of measurement had transformed into an instrument vital for the transfer of large sums of money in Europe and then into an increasingly more important fundament of a regional agenda10. Therefore, the region becomes a strategic subject in the development of the European regions. Every region embraces its own strategy that leads to more ambitions in the economic, political, and cultural fields.

 

Regional

 

Following with the reasoning of Arend Lijphardt, we have the tendency to create „regional governments11„, and the notion of regional gains an importance as significant as the national, local and European ones. We know that „the principle of subsidiarity allows the decisions that have been taken to be as close as possible to the citizens regardless if its on a national, regional or local basis12. Further­more, it is spreading towards a new regional identity. We can take an example like the case of Bucovina, or better yet the Bucovineean brand, that is representative to this perspective. We can also take another political controversy, cer­tainly not one that is an important as the process of regionalization, its in the form of highways, needed for the process of regional de­velopment. In Romania, there is talk about „the grand projects” of the national level, where the decision takers of the center are in dispute with then ones on the local level. Or that the national projects are not compatible with the local level. What is a national remains national, what is regional is left at the disposition of the local decidents along with their projects. The dispute between the „localists” and the „centrists” has been widely known to occur even in Poland and the Czech Republic13. It all depended on how dispersed were the members of the communist elite at the moment of the initiation of the regionalization process. In our country it possible to function even by removing part of the former political nomenclature, but especially by splitting the territories according to the interests of some individuals with power, distributed by the parties.

We know that an effect of the regional must have as a fundament the consent of the citizens, the ones that are represented14. This is why, maybe at a later time, at an opportune moment a new electoral system will be enforced that would allow a broader opening to civically and political participation.

 

Regionalization

 

Regionalization is a process in which we recognize at an adminis­trative, public and academic level, the region and its functionality as a structure.

Regionalization cannot have consistent implications with the identity of the citizens if there isn’t a decentralized process in the background. Due to this, it is necessary to take „a leap from functional regionalism to an institu­tional regionalism”15, from the developing regions as they are present now in Romania, to regions that have direct administrative responsibilities. We can see how this works by observing The Region Committee and the attempt to form de Siret-Prut-Nistru Region as an institutional objective attached to local institutions. Decentralization may exist prior to a regionalization, but the reverse is not possible. Due to this reason, a constitutional assumption is imperious to this process.

The characteristics at a theoretic level can be classified in two directions. The first is the one where regionalization creates „competen-ce”, „governance”, (local – closer to the  citizen),  „sustainability” and

„identity16„, and the other one couples another five elements: „active resistance”, „selective deployment”, „shared aesthetics”, „common identity”, „augmented reality”17.

If the first two are used to raise public awareness by opinion leaders, the second group highlights a better participation of the citizens directly to the regional agenda and a better understanding of this process.

„Political regionalist movements”18 make this process a very politicized one (see the case of the secufs), which is not to be desired. „Econo­mic reasons” or a „reaction towards the centralist directions of moderni­zation „are another evaluation trend of the importance as a political topic and civically implication of the regionalization process. We need here to make a conceptual distinc­tion and mention that „regionalism is a regional project of ideas and initiatives”19, and „regionalization builds concrete systems of inte­ractions (both economic and social) in the interior of an identified geographic space”20. One is a topic like „policy of regional develop­ment” and another one is regarding the problem of regionalization and regionalism processes. Rather it is more important to see how political representation is taking place – at the local, county, level? On how many levels does political repre­sentation rank? One example would be that MPs should group them­selves politically through regions for the local interest. But we should not inquire in giving a greater power to the barons of leading „a region”.

Representation can be acted through chosen counsels, or in the Parliament.

Regionalization can be a con­sequence of a process of decentra­lization, which is more real now in the modern day Romania, but focus is somewhere else. It is debated as „to how the power will be split „or more exactly a „distribution of power”21. The disputes between the different „barons” borderlines the distribution of the spheres of influence and the winning of the trust of the people (party structures) that would be accessed by the distribution of power. An example of this could be the dispute about the placement of capitals of the new regions. In the North-East region, as it was delimitated in a legislative-project, the city of Iaşi, Piatra-Neamţ and Suceava, and the identified leaders of these regions have discursively fought about the future placement of the new regions capital. This fact led to dissension and ample political controversies.

 

Regionalization – civic activity and representation

 

As to have a few general lines of direction, I have started with a series of questions that we are needed to answer when we talk about local representation and civic implication: what is the degree of local autonomy and the level that local structures stimulate citizen parti­cipation? To what extent the local mechanism of decision taking is accessible to the participation of the citizens? How does regionalization change the belief of the individual in his obligation to the community? In what way do they care about the problems of the community rather than their problems? Does the non­governmental participation suffer any changes? Or the participation of civic groups and organizations forming activities for helping the community? Does regionalization imply the obligation to be informed about what is happening around you or to be interested about the direction of the community? Does regionalization bring economic progress or instability? Do the relationships between citizens change? Does the corruption inside the state institutions diminish or increase? Can regionalization change the practices of the democratic institutions and the spirit of democracy? Does this process bring a possible democratic consolidation? As we have expected, the answers that we tried to give are not categorical, but we have tried to estimate by observing the social reality of the present day a possible future evolution.

In order to analyze long-term the relationship between civic impli­cation and representability, political culture has proved to be a variable that can be hardly overlooked. The concept of political culture refers to the specific political orientation -attitudes towards the political system and its different parts, as well as its attitudes towards the role of „good” in the system. We are talking about a political culture exactly as we would talk about an economic culture or a religious culture. It is a set of orientations towards a special set of objects and social processes22.

Another definition of the same authors (Almond and Verba) says that: civic culture is a pluralist culture based on communication and persuasion, a culture of consents and diversity, a culture that has allowed change, a moderated one23. Therefore, we can observe that in order to change something both in the functioning of the institutions as well as its attitudes and behaviors those citizens have towards the state and community, along the lines of regionalization, we need a developed civic culture among the members of the society. Civic involvement and the relationship between local government and the citizens is maintained through active civic participation to the public affairs, with continuous information and with a sense of civic responsibility among its members. What has to be mentioned is the fact that after the classification that the two authors have made about the types of political culture,24 it follows that the active citizen is guided by its rational when we talk about its implication inside the political system, which is representative for the activist-rationalist model.

In contrast to the elected ones, the citizen is an active participant in the process of political input. However, the role of the citizen does not replace the role of the submissive or the parochial; these add up to it. More so, if the ordinary man is interested about the economic problems, he is more likely to be interested about the process of output rather than input25. Although the ordinary individual, that is well informed and is interested about the public state of matter, has inherently a level of interest towards the manner of the decisions that are being taken, and how these decisions affect him (through public policies). Even so, when the economic crisis hits and affects the citizens way of life, their degree of interest about the deci­sions that have been taken, decreases, and they shift their attention towards the results. What interests them is who benefits from these decisions and not the manner of how these decisions are taken. Thereby, we can easily say, that political leaders are bypassing procedures and rules, due to the fact that the shift in interest of the citizens is pointed to the effects that their decisions have. An important aspect will be represented by the way the enactment that follows the regionalization process: will there be a local government/ and or a local Parliament that will enact on the basis of their communities needs and interests, functioning by the principle of subsidiarity, or will there exist at the regional level a monitoring and evaluation of the directives and projects brought in by the central government? The way in which the political leaders that were directly chosen by the people of the region would govern, will have an impact on the perceived attitudes and characteristics of the partici­pation of the citizens in the decision making process.

A while ago we asked ourselves if the process of regionalization could redefine the practices and rules of the institutions, and why not, if it would consolidate demo­cracy. For Juan Linz, and Alfred Stepan, in the article „Toward Consolidated Democracies”, not every political system can follow through the process of consolidating democracy, only the ones that have met some minimal requirements: that folds with the experience of the country; have concluded democratic transition and have a government that respects democratic procedures (The rule of the law, a constitution, human rights, the principle of power separation)26. If we take the case of Romania, we can observe the fact that we still have problems with respecting the Rule of the Law, on top of a conflict between the powers of the state (see Justice Report MCV 2013 of the European Commission), let alone the many charges that different political, regional and national leaders are being charged with: corruption. The same authors have isolated three dimensions that are necessary conditions for democracy: „the behavioral dimension, the attitude dimension and the constitutional dimension”. This would assume that at the behavioral level no political actor would try to build an undemocratic alternative to the democratic system. At the attitude dimension, the majority of the population should support only the democratic means for resolving problems, even for the direst problems, and the support for the undemocratic alternatives should be kept at a minimal level. At the constitutional level, the compliance with the law, and with the consti­tutional procedures and institutio­nalized ruling, should become common conduct and any other way should be seen and perceived as dangerous, inefficient and expen­sive27. To be enforced, however, these principles need the existence of a democratic culture as Robert Dahl points out: „the process of consolidating democracy requires the existence of a strong democratic culture that can offer their emotional and cognitive support adequate for adherence to democratic proce-dures”28. In other words, there is need for a set of rules and values that reside inside the community which guides the behavior and judgment of its citizens.

Under the pretense of the rapprochement of the citizens to the political leaders (both territorially, and as a gradual accessibility) it is possible that the competence and the awareness of participation will steadily increase. Even though the common citizen has the role of being subjected by the rule of law, we must not forego that he is wanted to actively participate at the decisions making process. „It is expected that the ordinary indivi­dual to take part actively in the affairs of the government, and to be aware to the way the decisions are being taken as well as making his own conceptions available to the public”29. When we talk about the proximity of the institutions to the common man, by making the process of communicating easier, it is to be expected that the percepti-veness of the political leaders to the needs of the people to rise (maybe even by the fact that the degree of control over them is even greater).

Given the fact that when we talk about democracy, thinkers and political analysts, from the Stoics and ending with the postmodern era, who argue that democracy is developed from the local commu­nities, (Plato’s Republic) we tend to believe that regionalization may create new opportunities to empower citizens to be active inside their community, and why not, a better understanding of the relationship between local government and citizens. All this is based on the premise „that while the political and governmental problems tend to be understood easier, and the governmental bodies less distant, the chances of efficient participation of the common individual at the local level could be greater than those on the national level”30. This kind of participation could start with the sentiment of trust and belonging to a bigger group (as opposed to the family group) like the adherence to a syndicate, NGO, even a political party. A while ago we talked about efficient participation. It is possible that an administrative-territorial reorganization to produce such an effect? If we look at things from the perspective of satisfaction that a common man could have, the answer would be yes. The amount of resources that he uses (material or otherwise) is small for achieving his personal goal  (or collective

goal).

In the introduction we made a short analysis of the term political culture, the one that stands at the base of shaping the participation of the competent political citizen. With the modification of the adminis­trative-territorial form, and the emergence of new regional institu­tions, maybe even institutions with directly chosen representatives by the electorate, it comes in question the aspect of legitimacy and governance. Samuel Huntington31 says that every country is a political community with a common con­sensus between their citizens about the legitimacy of the political system. In the absence of discussions between the present day political leaders and its citizens, a dialogue that would clearly explicit the advantages and disadvantages of regionalization, (informing the citizens about their involvement in the process) cannot lead to the granting of legitimacy from the people to a project that is not accessible to them, with little or no knowledge, and with the absence of information campaigns.

Both existing institutions, and those that could appear with the regionalization process, are beha­vioral manifestations of the moral consensus and mutual interest of its citizens. A classic definition in poli­tical science says that: „institutio-nalization is a process in which organizations and procedures accu­mulate stability and values. The level of institutionalization of any political system can be defined by the level of adaptability, complexity, autonomy, and the coherence of its procedures and organizations”32. As long as the moral base of the state’s institutions has its roots in the needs of its people, a society with procedures, rules and many institu­tionalized practices will succeeds further in identifying and achieve its political interests.

Lately there has been talk about the benefits that regionalization would bring, especially economical ones, with a high rate of European funds absorption (and others), leading to a potentially accelerated economic growth. Recent studies have shown that economic development is favored by democracy, but democracy does not necessarily lead to economic growth, it can happen even in states that have authoritarian regimes (China). Consolidated demo­cracy is not a direct consequence of economic development, although it is well known that under a particular level of economic development, democracy cannot emerge. Accor­ding to Ronald Inglehert’s thesis found in the paper named: Modernization and Postmoderni-zation. Cultural, Economic and Political Change in 43 Societies, economical development brings forth two tipes of changes that favor democracy: chances in social structures that mobilize public participation and cultural chances that help stabilise democracy.

Nevertheless accelerated eco­nomic growth, can lead to political instability. Here are a few argu­ments to support this33: geographic mobility will increase, that means social relationships will be impaired and it will encourage the rapid transition from village to city (which will lead to alienation and political extremism); the income of some people will increase, and thus this will enhance their dissatisfac­tion towards the existing order; there will be a restriction on consumer related goods, for the encouragement of investments, leading to public unrest; it aggra­vates regional and ethnic conflicts on the distribution of investments and consumerism; it increases the organizational capacity of groups, and thusly the force of the groups demands towards the government, of which it cannot satisfy. Because of this, we can expect that these experiences will redefine our existent political culture, creating a gap between aspirations, expecta­tions and the fulfillment of the desires, leading altogether to frustra­tion and social unrest.

The process of regionalization and the formation of regionalism, represents the level of awareness of common interests of a given population that lives in a region, of the existence of differences between this and other regions and of the desire of its community to be responsible of the solving its problems that cannot be solved by the state. Specialists state that regionalism also emerges with the awareness of regional economic and social imbalances. Thus, the first stage identifies those communities within states that have formed a regional consciousness, only after that they will be entrusted with problems they can address directly, followed by the last stage where they will create regional and local administrative institutions34.

In this paper’s introduction we asked ourselves if once with the start of the process of regiona-lization, we would find an increase in political corruption. Here are two arguments that make us believe it will: this transition coupled with economic development can lead to more means of acquiring power and money, which is a direct con­sequence of the ascension of new groups, resources and effort to climb the ladder of the new spheres of political influence (once with the emergence of new institutions at a regional level, new opportunities will arise to achieve power). Another argument would be that regionalization can facilitate the expansion of governmental authority

– „the passing from governed democracy to a democracy that governs”35 – and the multiplication of the activities that are bound to governmental procedures, or in other words the multiplication of norms and laws, that can create the possibility of corruption, which is dependent by the support they have obtained, the legitimacy from the people.

How can we proceed as a civil society to the process of decision taking? Hereinafter we will try to present a general frame and the conditions of civic participation. NGO’s are an essential component of participation in an open and democratic society because it activates a large portion of individuals. The fact that some of these people are voters underlines the relationship that it has with representative democracy. NGO’s can contribute with their insights and independent expertise with the decision making process. This process has determined the governments and even international institutions to call on their experience and competence in providing assistance for the development and implementation of policies. NGO’s take great pride by the trust they are given by their members and the societies they represent, and by the level of ability to support and represent their interests which is a crucial contribution for the development of policies36.

Regionalization could bring a tighter relationship between the political institutions of the state and the civil society. Giovanni Sartori said that „if we analyze the problem of participation in the same way the participants do, then it would be obvious that participating is a significant attitude, which is both authentic and real but only amidst a narrow closely tied group”37. For it to be accessible, it is needed for political process of decision taking to be open and accessible in a narrow space. Both NGO’s and public authorities having the objective to improve the lives of its people can work together based on mutual trust which implies trans­parency and respect. Responsibility is needed from both sides, and the insurance of respecting the autonomy of the organizations that reside outside the sphere of influence of the state’s institutions, even when their views are opposite.

How can citizens participate to the decision making process, or influence the elected representatives when we talk about the adopting of different measure undergoing the process of regionalization? Surely an extremely important role will be the way of function of the new institutions with the decisional character (at the regional level -institutional design – in the absence of a clear project of regionalization and the way of how the institutions will function, it is hard for us to foresee the manner of distributing workloads inside these new institutions). Nonetheless, we can suggest a few means of action: for citizens to be politically competent38 there is a need for easy access to information. Also there is a need for consulting and dialogues (delibe­rative democracy) that would lead to collaboration between the civil society, citizens and public autho­rities.

In our opinion regionalization should set a model of participative democracy and to have in view the democratization of the state’s institutions „giving a broader reach of action and responsibility for the parliament and the political parties, while the new means of „battle” at the local level should offer the assurance that the society as with state, is subject to procedures that guarantee the sentiment of responsibility”39. As essential traits for this type of democracy we think that it can fold well with the model of regionalization, we must mention that: „the direct participation of the citizens in the regulation of the central institutions of the society, including work spaces in the local community; Reorganizing the party system so that the parties officials to become accountable before its members; maintaining an open institutional process for the assurance of experimenting with different variations of political forms, the reduction of democratic power who lacks a sense of accountability for the public and private life; an open system that assures a documented decision”40.

At the civil society’s level, this can work in the following directions: plea – to raise issues that are related to a specific group or a public interest before authorities; the information and awareness of the institutions of the NGO’s findings towards various particular problems; innovation – the develop­ment of new solutions that can be included on the political agenda; organizing campaigns and lobbies; petition, the dissemination of infor­mation through means of online computing; Public hearings as well as forums that can be accessed through participation of impartial specialists; we must not forget the surveillance function of the civil society towards the political system. Included in the process of regionalization, these measures could bring the citizen closer both to the political process as well as its representatives. In regards to the public authorities, the respon­sibilities included would be the following: exchange of information with the civil society; providing resources, receptivity; consulting with the citizens; partnerships and co-editing41.

According to some researches made in 2013 by the „Multimedia for local democracy „Foundation, these conclusions have been found across all 8 regions: the Romanian society is a traditional one, even after 5 as a member of the EU. Solidarity and trust are built by the means of traditions and conser­vatory behavior, and the most trusted institutions are the hereditary ones namely the church and the army; a good portion of Romania can be characterized as being a closed society. In regards to civic profile, it seems that it’s mainly non-participative. With the excep­tion of electoral participation (which is rather a passive activity due to the lack of effort in participating) the other types of participation are scarcely used. International compa­risons show that the participative Romanian culture is obviously diffe­rent than those found in western countries. Nonetheless, citizens are available for political participation and information, but they do not participate effectively and they lack proper information42.

The same foundation brings some solution to overcome these problems, like: more informative and education campaigns – the civic education of the citizens, the growth of the level of awareness of the power that an active, homogeneous community can have in relation with the authorities and other third parties. Another step would be an increase in the level of tolerance (the diminishing of mistrust and suspicion): the greater the social distance and mistrust of others is more pronounced, the orientation towards civic activism and social cooperation is smaller in scope. Collective action cannot be present when there is no trust between the individuals that are gathered for cooperation. When these individuals are suspicious and the feeling of belonging to the groups is not well developed, these citizens fail to

43

participate .

If a political democratic system is one where the ordinary citizen participates in the process of decision taking, a political democratic culture should be based on a series of beliefs, attitudes, norms, perceptions, that support participation. Surely, the frequency of participation will be affected by the local community’s structures. But if the norm of participation is not widespread, institutional changes in a way that support participation will not lead to a participative democracy44. In other words, the existence of norms and institutions are not enough to favor and increase the longing of civic implication, citizen participation, but above all, availability of the individual to implicate itself in the public affairs is imperiously needed. The citizen must understand and acknowledge his role in the community, his competences, responsibilities and rights that come with his status.

 

Regional and political representation

 

We have a more or less representative discourse for the citizens, but on the other side, we have a political strategy for the politicians. The augmentation45 determines that the regionalization process is locked into a gratification game that overestimates the positive effects that it might have on its citizens. But if the citizens are not attached, or involved in the process, they will not be aware of it, and on the long-term it will be obsolete or nullified. Why shouldn’t regionali-zation be a myth and why is it one? Why should there be an efficient administration and why isn’t there one? Because the process is non-consultative and politicized. Even though you know that citizens do not know the historic theoretic and historic foundation of the regionali-zation (at an academic level), in time they will become more interested if they observe debates or discourses.

You cannot make regionalization happen with a high level of corruption (we do not know when this period will be overcome), or how the political, economic dispa­rities should be fixed in the future. In the Czech Republic a somewhat similar dispute about the „nature of democracy and the role of its citizens in politics” has happened46. And we are concerned that the involvement of civil society in the completion the process of regiona-lization and delineation of political representation to be more construc­tive. But the „discourses about the regional governing has the tendency to make rapid associations with notions like inclusions, participation and democracy (return to the roots)47” We can say that decentra­lization and regionalization are influenced by the political ideas and visions of the political actors during the period of transition,48 but also that the „discursive represen-tation”49 is somewhat like a „lottery of talents”50 so that the political leaders must find legitimacy in their actions and the citizens must be identified to it51. By this reason we are not interested that regiona-lization can build different types of bureaucracy because „bureaucracies are capable in generating meanings, identities and symbols that support them just like any other collecti-vity”52. The larger the number of decision makers, the more difficult it is to deliberate a situation53. In discourses, there is much talk about the local, the counties, but not the regional level. It is necessary to overcome this situation that has been given to us by the politicians through politicization, a process with great democratic meaning.

 

Conclusions

 

This paper has attempted to capture the main characteristics of regionalization, based on firm studies analyzing socio-political reality, focusing on how this process is received by politicians, citizens, and civil society. We have started with the definition of some concepts like regionalization, regionalism and region so that we could see where the project of administrative-territo­rial reconfiguration can be placed. This project that was proposed by the current political leaders as an identity, local or regional model.

A question we attempted to answer was whether there is a culture of regional identity modifying aspects of political representativeness. We have also tried to find out if we have at least a trend of awareness of this process, or if it requires it. Although the region is becoming a strategic issue in the development of European regions, each region embracing its own strategy, leading to more ambitious economic, political, cultural, we believe that Romania divided into regions would lead to economic disparities, the regiona-lization will make the functioning of the bureaucracy more difficult, and the objective to reduce admi­nistrative costs even harder to achieve. Regionalization also brings a process of decentralization that would lead to an arbitrary distribu­tion of power, given the fact that the process is politicized and non­consultative.

As for how citizen participation in decision-making will suffer changes, we believe that a rappro­chement of the political leaders to the electorate could have positive results, given the fact that the pressure from the civil society will be perceived easier by the decision makers. However we cannot ignore the fact that before, for an individual to participate in the political life of the community he must have been aware, and to perceive that he is able to act. We cannot say that regionalization will bring with itself a higher level of participation in the political affairs, so long as local institutions will not encourage participation and a predisposition form the citizens to take a step outside their sphere of interest and empathize with the needs and problems of the community. Another conclusion of our approach would be that the process of regionalization, decentralization, will bring a significant increase of the number of acts of corruption, because of the emergence of new decision making institutions.

After presenting how the process is perceived and how it works, we came with a few recommendations that could lead to an improvement in the way those institutions with decision making powers, work. The first recommendation would be an increase in the transparency of decision making process and a greater openness of the national institutions to the citizen’s masses. At the same time we need greater involvement of the civil society in the decision making process, thus leading to the formation of a pro-participatory political culture. Finally we need a de-politicization of public discourse when it comes to solutions to problems of the community.

We can affirm that a different form of political culture is deve­loping as we can see for example in the approach against the cutting of linden trees in the municipal area of the city of Iaşi. This could have been made even without debates about „local governing”, or how important is civic involvement in the decision making process of the decision makers. What we can observe now is a realization of identity by the citizens to the way that the city is being managed. Regionalization produces a sense of closeness to the local level. The problems are beginning to be local. So a speech like „we want to be part of, or „we must see” becomes an object of political reference for both politicians and citizens. At the regional level the problems stands differently. An economic culture is taking place. But in this case, we are talking about a culture of regionalization that includes the other types of cultures. We do not wish that regionalization will stand for slogans like „let the money rain!”, this is against our pers­pective. We can accept the idea of economic culture (the impact of traditional produce, local and regional tourism, accessing of European funds) but the process of regionalization must involve the construction of a democracy by participation. Local governing is the last step of the process of regionalization and decentralization which can be observed in countries that have a long history and tradition of territorial administration.

 

Note

1      (tr.a.) Arnoud Lagendijk, institutions and boundaries, Regionalisation in Europe. Stories, Nijmegen School of Management, 2003, http://www.ru.nl , p. 10 (accesat pe 10 ianuarie 2014), p. 2.

2      (tr.a.) Ibidem, p. 3.

3      (tr.a.) Andrew Wood, „Regiona-lization and the construction of ephemeral Co-Location”, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 3, http://www.tandfonline . com/doi/abs/10.1080/02773945.201 2.682847?journalCode=rrsq20#.Uu N09xCYvIU, p. 290 (accesat pe 28 decembrie 2013).

4      (tr.a.) Ibidem, p. 290. 56 (tr.a.) Ibidem, p. 290.

6      Jennifer A. Yoder, decentralisation and       Regionalisation       after Communism:  Administrative  and Territorial Reform in Poland and the Czech    Republic”,    Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 55, no. 2 (Mar., 2003), http://www.jstor.org/discover/ 10.2307/3594527?uid=3738920&ui d=2&uid=4&sid=21103332184767, p. 263, (accesat pe 28 decembrie

7      2013.

7      Ibidem, p. 266.

8      See the second part of this study.

9      Vasile Puşcaş, Adrian Liviu Ivan, Regiune şi regionalizare în Uniunea Europeană, Institutul de studii Internaţionale, Cluj-Napoca, 2004, p. 148.

10    Arnoud Lagendijk, op. cit., p. 10.

11    Arend Lijphardt, Modele ale democraţiei. Forme de guvernare şi funcţionare în treizeci şi şase de ţări, Editura Polirom, Iaşi, 2006, p. 177.

12    Vasile Puşcaş, Adrian Liviu Ivan, op. cit., p. 145.

13    Jennifer A. Yoder, op. cit., p. 267.

14    Jennifer A. Yoder, op. cit., p. 267.

15    Vasile Puşcaş, Adrian Liviu Ivan, op. cit., p. 147.

16    Arnoud Lagendijk, op. cit., p. 2.

17    „rezistenţă activă”, „implementare selectivă”,  „estetică  în  comun”, „identitate comună”, „realitate augmentată” (tr. a.) Andrew Wood, op. cit., p. 289.

18    Jennifer A. Yoder, op. cit., p. 265.

19    Vasile Puşcaş, Adrian Liviu Ivan, op. cit., p. 10.

20    Ibidem, p. 10.

21    Arend Lijphardt, op. cit., p. 178.

22    Gabriel Almond, Sidney Verba, Cultura civică, Bucureşti, DU Style, 1996, p. 43.

23    Ibidem, p. 37.

24    Cultură politică parohială specifice societăţilor tribale unde parohialul nu aşteptă nimic de la sistemul politic; Cultura politică dependentă unde relaţia este faţă de sistem la nivel geneal şi către partea administrativă, de output, este o relaţie esenţialmente pasivă; Cultura politică participativă unde societatea tinde să fie interesată către aspectele
de input şi output ale sistemului politic.

25    Gabriel Almond, Sidney Verba, op. cit., p. 142.

26    Juan Linz şi Alfred Stepan, „Drumul spre o democraţie consolidată”, în Cum se consolidează democraţia,
coordonatori: Larry Diamond, Yunhan Chu, Marc F. Plattner, Huangmao Tien, pp. 51-52.

  27   Ibidem, pp. 52-53.

28    Robert A. Dahl, „Dezvoltare şi cultură democratică”, în Cum se consolidează democraţia, coordonatori: Larry Diamond, Yun-han Chu, Marc F. Plattner, Huang-mao Tien, p. 68.

29    Gabriel Almond, Sidney Verba, op. cit., p. 143.

3 0       Ibidem, p. 145.

31    Samuel Huntington, Ordinea politică a societăţilor în schimbare, Polirom, Iaşi, 1999, p. 10.

32    Ibidem, pp. 19-20.

33    Ibidem, pp. 51-52.

34    Călin Sabin Ghiolţan, „Legătura dintre regiunea administrativă şi politica regională”, în Revista Transilvană de Ştiinţe Administrative, nr. 2 (22)/2008, p. 27.

35    Giovanni Sartori, Teoria democraţiei reinterpretată, Editura Polirom, Iaşi, 1999, p. 122.

36    ÎNDRUMĂTOR PENTRU PARTICIPAREA CIVILĂ LA PROCESUL DE LUARE A DECIZIILOR, Adoptat de Conferinţa ONG-urilor
Internaţionale în sesiunea din 1 octombrie 2009, URL: http://www .infoeuropa.md/files/indrumator-pentru-participarea-civila-la-procesul-
de-luare-a-deciziilor.pdf, (accesat pe 25.11.2013).

37    Giovanni Sartori, op. cit., p. 121.

38    Măsura în care cetăţenii unei naţiuni se percep pe sine drept competenţi pentru a influenţa guvernământul afectează, sau mai bine zis influenţează comportamentul lor politic – Gabriel Almond, Sidney Verba, op.
cit.,
p. 163.

39    David Held, Modele ale democraţiei,  Editura  Univers,  Bucureşti, 2000, p. 285.

40    Ibidem, p. 290.

41    Îndrumător pentru participarea civilă la procesul de luare a deciziilor, Adoptat de Conferinţa ONG-urilor Internaţionale în sesiunea din 1 octombrie 2009, URL: http:// www.infoeuropa .md/files/indrumator-pentru-participarea-civila-la-proce
sul-de-luare-a-deciziilor.pdf. (accesat pe 25.11.2013).

42    Iniţiativă pentru societatea civilă, www.infopolitic.ro , (accesat pe 20 iunie 2013).

43    Ibidem.

44    Gabriel Almond, Sidney Verba, op. cit., p. 158.

45    Andrew Wood, op. cit., p. 294.

46    Jennifer A. Yoder, p. 278.

47    (tr.a.) Lagendijk, op. cit., p. 6.

48    Jennifer A. Yoder, op. cit., p. 280.

49    No. 4 (Nov., 2008), http://www .jstor.org/discover/10.2306/2664454 0?uid=3638920&uid=2&uid=4&sid
=21103332184666 (accesat pe 29 decembrie 2013).

5 0     Ibidem, p. 485.

51  „If leaders could not justify their actions in these terms, contributors can back other groups instead”, Ibidem, p. 490.

52    Arnoud Lagendijk, op. cit., p. 12.

53    Ibidem, p. 486.

Bibliography

Almond, Gabriel şi Verba, Sidney, Cultura civică, Du Style, Bucureşti,1996.

Dahl, A. Robert, „Dezvoltare şi cultură democratică”, în Cum se consoli­dează democraţia, Diamond, Larry, Chu, Yun-han, Plattner, F. Marc şi Tien, Huang-mao (coordonatori), Editura Polirom, Iaşi, 2004.

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Yoder, A. Jennifer, „Decentralisation and Regionalisation after Commu­nism: Administrative and Territorial Reform in Poland and the Czech Republic”, Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 55, no. 2 (Mar., 2003), http://www.jstor.org/discover/ 10.23 07/3594527?uid=3738920&uid=2& uid=4&sid=2110333184767, pp. 263-289 (accesat pe 28 decembrie  2013).

Îndrumător pentru participarea civilă la procesul de luare a deciziilor, Adoptat de Conferinţa ONG-urilor Internaţionale în sesiunea din octombrie 2009, URL: http://www.infoeuropa.md/files/indrum ator-pentru-participarea-civila-la-procesul-de-luare-a-deciziilor.pdf, (accesat pe 25 noiembrie 2013)

Iniţiativă pentru societatea civilă, www.infopolitic.ro , (accesat pe 20 iunie 2013)

Translated in English by Cristian Petrică COJOCARU

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