The Citizen Handbook

Citizen Participation

Understanding Citizen Participation

Roots of Citizen Power

Citizen participation is a categorical term for 'citizen power', or the power granted to citizens within their community or state. Article One of the Constitution grants each Kenyan citizen sovereign power. It purposely assigns specific citizen powers to all Kenyans and specific powers to those traditionally marginalized from decision-making in their communities and government. Also outlined in the Constitution are a series of responsibilities, which complement citizen powers. It is through the coordinated and shared use of citizen power that citizens can directly affect their local governments.

Types of Citizen Power

There are three basic types of citizen power: passive, fiscal, and physical. These powers form the base of citizen participation in democratic systems and can be used individually or as part of a group.

   · Passive citizen power relates to participation that does not require direct physical action, like petition signing, writing letters, voting and releasing publications;

   · Physical citizen power requires direct physical participation like protesting, volunteering, working for government or boycotting; and

  • Fiscal citizen power relates to financial action like taxes, donations, endorsement spending, and consumption. 

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