When the mayor was elected in 1979, he established a participatory democracy based on direct citizen action within Marinaleda. All decisions are taken during general assemblies, there is a participatory budget, and the housing is self-built.
Please note this entry requires editing assistance. Help us to complete it.
Problems and Purpose
The village Marinaleda located in the province of Seville in Andalusia is composed of two thousand eight hundred inhabitants, Its peculiarity is that it is self-managed by its inhabitants: all decisions are taken during general assemblies where all the citizens of the city are invited, the economy is based on a participatory budget and a cooperative, the housing units are self-built. The mayor, Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, who was elected in 1979 and re-elected eight times since, has established a participatory democracy based on the direct action of citizens within his village.
Background History and Context
In the 1970s, the village of Marinaleda had no administrative, economic or social infrastructure, the streets were not paved and barely lit, the lack of housing was extremely problematic, as was the lack of local medicine. There is no college, the town hall does not work, the living conditions of the inhabitants of the village are deplorable and the unemployment rate is enormous. The citizens of Marinaleda then began to come together to discuss their living conditions and ended up creating the Union of Agricultural Workers (SOC) in 1977. Their main demand then focused on large farms, private since belonging to lords. . In 1979, Sanchez Gordillo was elected in the first municipal elections held since the end of Francoism. Its main goal is to fight against the misery of the Marinalediens and therefore against the causes of it, namely the economic system favoring the large landowners. According to him, the land must belong to those who work, which is why, followed by the majority of the citizens of his city, he launches into the fight for the appropriation of agricultural land by the farmers. This involves in particular the occupation of the lands of the Humoso, property of the Duke of Infanto, which will ultimately be bought and ceded to the Marinalédiens by the Andalusian government.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Do you know who participated in the organization and / or funding of this initiative? Help us complete this section!
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Do you know how the participants were recruited? Help us complete this section!
Methods and Tools Used
The system in which the city of Marinaleda has operated since 1979 is based on the active participation of all citizens, politically, economically and socially. This organizational form is called self-management: the decision-making process for the management of the city is controlled by the inhabitants of the city. In Marinaleda, the divisions between the political elite and the average citizen no longer exist, the most senior politician, the mayor, has no privileges associated with this position.
Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
Today, the village of Marinaleda operates in self-management and all the inhabitants participate in political life. All political decisions (including on budgets, taxes, the cooperative, etc.) are taken during assemblies to which all the inhabitants of the village are invited. A decision is only adopted if at least 80% of voters are in favor, because according to the mayor, a lower membership rate for the decision does not really reflect the entire population. We can notice three types of assembly: neighborhood, theme and general, although this typology is not official. Usually, an assembly is preceded by individual talks between the mayor and the citizens, who inform him of the subjects they wish to discuss and the mayor then sets the agenda. During the assemblies, the villagers are invited to discuss, debate and give their opinions. Since decisions are made only if a large majority votes in favor, they are the ones who have the final say in the decision-making process. The principle of "one person, one voice" is applied and respected, insofar as there is no discrimination according to gender, age, or even the place occupied in the village (for example, municipal councilors do not benefit from special privileges during meetings). Another interesting element to note in the political organization of Marinaleda is that elected politicians are not paid for their work in politics. It is more a service rendered than a job and the elected officials generally have another job on the side, for which they are paid at the same level as any other worker in Marinaleda. Removing the privileges of playing politics makes it less attractive in terms of personal benefits and limits the risk of abuse.
The economy of Marinaleda is social and united. It is mainly based on the agricultural activity of the village and on the cannery which was created to package agricultural products, managed by a cooperative. The role of the latter is to ensure the proper economic functioning of production and the main lines of its decisions are submitted to the general assembly of the village. Thanks to the factory, an additional stage of the production chain takes place in the village, which has made it possible to create jobs. All workers in this industry as well as farmers are paid the same salary, namely forty-seven euros per day, regardless of their position (workers, managers or administrators). The profits generated by this saving are directly reinvested in the cooperative. The aim of this form of management of the economy is to offer the best possible working conditions and to share the work between citizens as much as possible. As far as decision-making in the economic field is concerned, this too is an operation based on the active participation of citizens. It is organized in the form of a participatory budget: an executive committee is responsible for drawing up a municipal budget which is then presented to the villagers during general assemblies. It is up to citizens to decide whether or not to approve the proposed budget, always according to the rule of 80% of favorable votes.
One of the main problems of Marinaleda before the establishment of self-management was the lack of housing. Here, the right to housing is really applied, thanks to the principle of self-construction. A citizen of Marinaleda wishing to have a house can get one if he has it built and pays it fifteen euros per month. For the construction, the town hall provides the land and pays the architect and the materials are provided by the town hall and by the Junta de Andalucia. When there is a waiting list of people in need of a house, the attributions are made during the general assemblies. The accommodation cannot be sold but is transferable to children. In terms of infrastructure, the town hall, college, sports facilities, homes for the elderly and the stadium have been renovated or built. In addition, a nursery costing twelve euros per month, per child, meal included, has been set up. The school canteen is worth twenty euros per month and the swimming pool, one euro per month. Other low-cost or free services have also been created, such as natural parks, a children's park, a home help service and the organization of cultural events. We can also note that there is no police in Marinaleda, that drinking water is distributed for five euros per month and that the town hall has created a local and associative television channel where it is possible for the Marinalédiens to express yourself.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The first objective of the transformation of the political, economic and social system of Marinaleda is the establishment of a participatory democracy and this has been done through self-management. The term "participatory democracy" is a pleonasm, it is obvious that for power to be in the hands of the people, the latter must participate in the political decision-making process. The use of this term emerges when there is a need to denounce a political system commonly called "democracy" but where the people have no real power. When a movement is set up with the aim of setting up a participatory democracy, it is because the system in which its participants evolved before no longer represents them correctly (Blondiaux 2007: 120). It turns out that this is precisely what happened in Marinaleda, where the fed up with the political system preceding the struggle movement was so strong that the establishment of a real democracy, under the control of the people. , has become the main objective.
The idea of building a participatory democracy aims to institutionalize the participation of average citizens in deeper forms than just voting for political representatives and this can have a positive effect on political and social change (Blondiaux 2007: 121, 127-8). In the case of Marinaleda, citizen participation has clearly been increased and political and social changes have indeed followed, all through the establishment of the self-management system. Indeed, the political, economic and social life of Marinaleda is in self-management, through different mechanisms, such as general assemblies, participatory budget, cooperative, etc. All of these are based on citizen participation. According to Blondiaux, the establishment of a participatory democracy can lead to five main types of political and social change: it can bring political recognition, increase social justice, open up possibilities for political contestation, offer greater control over public action to citizens and constitute an element of political transformation (2007: 128-9). In Marinaleda, the self-management mechanisms that support participatory democracy have had this type of impact, in particular by the fact that all decisions are taken if 80% of voters are in favor. In addition, the principle of equity widely applied through equal wages, self-construction of housing, etc., greatly improves social justice.
The objective of creating a participatory democracy in Marinaleda has therefore been fulfilled, thanks to the establishment of a self-management system concerning all aspects of the life of the Marinaledians.
Several elements show us that the goal of the self-management movement of Marinaleda was also to create a society outside the hegemonic capitalist system. But let's start with an explanation of what anticapitalism is, to better see that Marinaleda corresponds to it. According to Beachler, this ideology addresses three major critiques of capitalism, concerning private property, the market and economism. First of all, private property, ardently defended by capitalism, systematically generates inequalities: offering the legitimate possession of the means and results of human activity to individuals inevitably ends in an unequal distribution which reproduces itself in the infinite. For example, the distribution of land among individuals usually results, after several years or generations, in the majority of land being held by a handful of large landowners (Beachler 1979: 67). Let us remember that the struggles at the origin of the political changes in Marinaleda were aimed at the expropriation of agricultural land belonging to a large landowner, for the benefit of the workers. Since obtaining these lands, they have been collectivized and belong to all the inhabitants of Marinaleda.
The second criticism that the anti-capitalist addresses to capitalism is that of the market, which generates alienation and waste. By alienation, we mean that the results of human action completely escape humans and are imposed on them in a binding manner. The idea of waste refers to the efforts that an individual must make to gather the means necessary to achieve his ends, a process that works by trial and error and in which waste is created. But the latter may represent an interest for another individual, who will then profit from the loss of his neighbor (Beachler 1979: 70-1). The alienation and waste that capitalism creates no longer takes place in Marinaleda. Indeed, the means of production as well as the profits made thanks to them return to the inhabitants of the village through their reinvestment in the cooperative. Moreover, no one benefits from the losses of others, since no personal benefit can be made and everyone is paid equally. The market logic is therefore not in place in Marinaleda, because the self-managed economic system is social and united.
The third criticism targets the economism characterizing capitalism: it is the focus of this ideology on the efficiency of the economy, seen as an end in itself and not a means. Conversely, the anti-capitalist considers that economic efficiency should only be a means of ensuring a good general quality of life. In addition, it takes into account noneconomic, more human-centered values that capitalism completely sidelines (Beachler 1979: 74). This applies very clearly to Marinaleda: economic efficiency is not an end in itself, since all profits are reinvested for the benefit of the community. In addition, the ideology governing this village explicitly advocates the prevalence of human-centered values over purely economic or material ones. Indeed, the rights to housing, to work, to health and to education are considered inalienable and economic efficiency comes after them in the order of priorities. Once again, the self-management mechanisms in place in the village support this ideology. In addition, we can note that the motto of Marinaleda: "a utopia towards peace" and its flag represents utopia (green), peace (white) and communism (red), which goes deeply into opposition to capitalism.
The self-management system in place in Marinaleda in all areas of citizens' life has therefore made it possible to meet the two main objectives of the struggle waged by the latter. The self-management mechanisms have allowed the establishment of a participatory democracy, in particular thanks to the assemblies, and of an anti-capitalist society, where the functioning of the cooperative, the participatory budget and respect for basic rights have surpassed the system. hegemonic capitalist societal elsewhere in the world.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Do you have an analysis of this initiative? Help us complete this section!
Participatory Budgeting (method)
Co-operative Business Management (method)
Baechler, Jean. “On Anticapitalism”, Commentary, vol. number 5, no. 1, 1979, pp. 67-77. Online: http://www.cairn.info/revue- comment-1979-1-p-67.htm . Accessed 07/28/2017.
Blondiaux, Loïc. “Participatory democracy, under conditions and in spite of everything. A paradoxical plea in favor of democratic innovation ”, Mouvements, vol. 50, no. 2, 2007, pp. 118-129. Online: http://www.cairn.info/ journal-movements-2007-2-page-118.htm # anchor_plan . Accessed 07/28/2017.
Desbrousses-Peloille, Hélène. “Representations of self-management”, Revue française de science politique, 36ᵉ year, n ° 5, 1986. pp. 606-632. Online: http://www.persee.fr/docAsPDF/rfsp_0035-2950_1986_num_367.df / a>. Accessed 07/28/2017.
Di Benedetto, Claudio. L'Innovazione Sociale: caso di studio Marinaleda, 2011. Online: https: //www.politesi.polimi.it/bitstream/10589/32322/1/2011_12_DiBenedet ... . Accessed 07/28/2017.
Haffner, Gilbert. "Marinaleda, Andalusian phalanstery in a Spain in crisis", Le Monde Diplomatique, August 2013. Online: http://www.mondediplomatique.fr/2013/08/HAFFNER/49520 . Accessed 07/28/2017.
Keiber, Anaël. “A cooperative oasis in a neoliberal world: the utopian village of Marinaleda in Spain”, Basta !. Online: https://www.bastamag.net/Un-oasis-cooperatifdans- one-world . Accessed 07/28/2017.
Mandly-Robles, Antonio. “Contrapuntos simbólicos de la acción social in Andalucía. Marinaleda (Sevilla) ”, Revista de Estudios Andaluces, n ° 9, 1987: 87-110. Online: https://idus.us.es/xmlui/handle/11441/14126 < / a>. Accessed 07/28/2017.
"No unemployment, no violence and no poverty, a city is testing direct democracy", La Relève et la Peste, 2015. Online: https://lareleveetlapeste.fr/pas-de-chomage-pas-de- violence and no-mis ... . Accessed 07/28/2017.
Talego-Vazquez, Félix. “Democracia asemblearia y liderazgo. La acción politica jornalera en Marinaleda ”, Revista de Estudios Andaluces, n ° 22, 1996: 67-82. Online: http://institucional.us.es/revistas/andaluces/22/ art_4.pdf . Accessed 07/28/2017.
Van Deth, Jan W. “A conceptual map of political participation”, Acta Politica, 2014, 49 (3), p.349-367.
Viveret, Patrick. “Self-management: a living dead! », Movements, vol. no18, no. 5, 2001, pp. 38-43. Online: http://www.cairn.info/ journal-movements-2001-5-page-38.htm # anchor_plan . Accessed 07/28/2017.
The Guardian: Spain's communist model village https : //www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/20/marinaleda-spanish-communi ...
The Polis Blog: Marinaleda: The Road to Utopia? http://www.thepolisblog.org/2012/09/marinaleda -road-to-utopia.html
Author of the original: Eléna Liegeois-De Paz
Lead image: "Sovereignty and Socialism" Hagar Jobse / Al Jazeera https://goo.gl/CjN84e