Democratic Participatory Instruments

Democracy, citizenship, participation


− To know what are the key instruments and structures of the democratic system in Europe and in each country’s partner

− To understand how can individuals participate in the democratic public structures in Europe and in each country’s partner


Expected Outcomes

In the end the participants will be able to know how they can participate in the fundamental democratic structures of the UE and in the institutions of the country they live.


Target group

Youth, Adults

Immigrants & Refugees

Number of participants: 12 – 20 people



(1 - very easy, 5 - very difficult)

Degree of expertise neede - 3

Amount of work -  4

The amount of work to prepare and implement the scenario - 1



3 h 15 min (with one break of 15 min)


Room with capacity for nearly 25 people, 5 tables with 4 chairs to group people around each table. A plain wall with enough space to hang 8 A4 cards. A free space in the floor nearly 6m2 will be desirable.



Bostik to fix the cards in the wall

1scissor to cut the cards

1 set of 3 markers (red, green and blue) and at least 5 pens/pencils per each group

1 box of clips (40 clips minimum to join “A” cards)

30 A4 size sheets of paper

Printed cards “Complete the Sentence” in the same number of the participants

Printed European Institutions Cards in the same number as the groups to be formed (e.g. in case of five groups, it is composed of 5 groups of 8 cards “A.1” and “A.2”)

Printed cards “B” and “C”: one group of “B” cards and as many groups of “C” cards as the groups of participants (e.g. in case of 5 groups, it is composed of 5 groups of “C” cards. The number of “C” cards depends on the number of institutions of the partner country)

For the timekeeping it is needed a clock or a mobile phone



The facilitator must know the name and the role of the most important European and partner’s country democratic institutions.

It requires research about the main democratic institution of the country in which the workshop will be held, in order to gather information such as:

− Democratic structures of each country:

a) at national level - Legislative (Parliament), Executive (Government) and Judicial (Tribunals) competencies

b) at local level (City Halls)

− How citizens participate/intervene in the composition of the democratic structures

− How citizens can participate in the decisions of the democratic institutions: elections, referendum, petitions

For the first exercise (European Union) the facilitator prints and cuts two groups of cards: the first group of cards with the titles of the contents and the second group of cards with the resumed contents.

In the second exercise (partner’s country institutions) the facilitator prints and cuts a group of cards with the name and resumed content.




Session’s presentation: objectives and sequence and the expected time of the session.

Introduction Game “Complete the Sentence” for presenting the facilitator and each participant, in order to highlight the commons aspects of the participants, instead of the differences, and to induct a casual and relaxed atmosphere. (20 min)

Each participant receives a card with uncompleted sentences and he/she has to finish it (Annex 1).When the work is done the facilitator asks each one to read their sentences and in the end the facilitator reads his own.



Forming groups (5 min)


The facilitator forms groups of 4 people using the following method:

First he/she asks the participants to stand up and to organize themselves in an alignment from the oldest person to the youngest.

Then he/she points at each participant while counting from the left to the right, starting from number 1 until number 4, and starting again from number one to the next five participants, and so on.

Finally the facilitator says to form groups with the correspondent numbers (all the numbers “1” in one group, the numbers  ”2” in another group, and so on). Each group seats around one table.


Exercise: Discover the European Institutions (40 min)


The facilitator distributes a complete group of eight European Institutions Cards (Annex 2) for each table/group of four participants, and then he/she explains the following procedures:

All the sixteen cards are placed in the middle of the table, so all can have access. Each group of four will be divided freely in two groups of two participants, and remain in the same table. Each group of two persons must join the A.1 title card to the correspondent A.2 card with a clip, but only for half of the European institutions. The group decides freely the four institutions that each smaller group wants to join. Then, in the original group of four, they discuss together the institutions and get to a final conclusion about the eight institutions. Each table/group of four chooses two institutions to explain to all participants and one speaker to do it.

Important aspects during this phase:

- The facilitator must guarantee that, in the end, all the eight institutions will be explained. If necessary he/she assigns the institutions to the groups.

- Once the groups are working, the facilitator goes through the tables and sees how the work is being developed, and, if needed, he/she can give clues to guide the group toward the correct solution.


After that, the facilitator asks each table/group to share their conclusions. (25 min)

As each speaker is sharing their conclusions, the facilitator writes in a A4 card, with a color marker, the name of that institution, and fixes the card in the wall.

At the same time, the facilitator gives more information about the institution that is presented by the speaker (e.g. if the speaker talks about the Commission, the facilitator can add the name of the president, and also that the Commission also as the power to negotiate international agreements for the EU; if the topic is the European Parliament, the facilitator can add that it has 20 committees to prepare the laws before they pass in the plenary sessions). In the end of this exercise there will be eight cards fixed in the wall.


Exercise: Organizing the Democratic Institutions of Your Country (45min)


This exercise has two parts. For the first part of this exercise, the participants remain in the original tables/groups of four persons. The facilitator distributes one group of “C” cards from Annex 3 for each table/group. Then, the facilitator places in the floor, in a row, the three “B” cards from Annex 3, making sure there is space enough to make a column of more cards under each “B” card. Then he/she asks the participants to discuss in the group the content of the different national institutions so they agree on the “B” card to which each institution belongs. (25 min)


For the second part of this exercise all the participants stand up in order to see the cards in the floor. The facilitator asks the participants to stand up and came near the place where the cards will be placed, forming a semicircle. Then he/she asks the speakers, one by one, to put the ”C” cards in a column line under the  “B” cards in which they think it belongs. (If there is already a “C” card with the same name under the same “B” card columns, the next  “C” card is placed on the top of the repeated “C” card).

While each speaker places a card in the column, the facilitator explains the content of the “C” card and can also add more information.

If the “C” card is placed in a “wrong” column, the facilitator asks the entire group of participants what they think about that choice, and if there is a more adequate column for that card. In the end of the exercise there will be three columns of cards in the floor.




(“C” card...)

(“C” card...)

(“C” card...)



(“C” card...)

(“C” card...)

(“C” card...)



(“C” card...)

(“C” card...)



The number of “C” cards can differ for different country.

The number of “C” cards under each column can also vary (e.g.“ELECTION” can have three “C” cards, and “PARTICIPATION” can have only two).

It is normal that a “C” card can be placed under “ELECTION” and “PARTICIPATION” at the same time (e.g. if there is a “Petition” “C” card, it should only belong to “PARTICIPATION”; but a “Parliament” “C” card can belong to “PARTICIPATION” in the context of indirect representation of the interests of the people, and, at the same time, under “ELECTION” because the members are elected by the people. In these cases the important thing is not the final conclusion, but the discussion about the topic which gives the opportunity for the facilitator to add more information to it. The facilitator can also foster the discussion asking if any of the cards could be placed on another column. (20 min)


Exercise: Make a petition (20 min)


The participants, in the same original groups of four, will be seated around the tables.

The facilitator ask all participants to seat again on their original places. Then he/she places two A4 paper sheets and one pen on each table. The facilitator says that each group will make a petition to an authority body at their choice, or a complaint to the Ombudsman, and explains that:

- the petition/complaint must have the identification of the person (name, address, some identification number of an official card);

- the text must be understandable and must identify the purpose of the petition or the facts of the complaint.

He/she can give some examples: petition to a local parish for a construction of a football field, petition to local tax body to clarify their fiscal situation, etc; complaint to the Ombudsman about the delay in obtaining a fishing license from a harbor authority issues, etc.  When the work is done the facilitator asks the groups to read the petition/complaints.



The facilitator summarizes all the European Institutions pointing to each of the cards fixed on the all, and summarizes all the institutions of the partner’s country pointing to each card on the floor.

He/she explains that, like a country has institutions for supplying the different needs of the society, also does the European Union, as a “society” of countries. He/she highlights that, in a democracy, people must have a say in the functioning and in the composition of those institutions. This kind of participation, either by an election, a complain, or a petition legitimates the institution and gives a sense of proximity with the people. The facilitator adds that a democracy must have three powers: the executive (which makes the decisions, like the Government), the legislative (which makes the laws, like the Parliament), and the judicial (for the administration of justice: the courts). He/she can guide the participants to understand that people have rights that can be better protected by the institutions when they participate in such ways as the petition or by presenting a complain to the Ombudsman. The facilitator induces the group to think how they can use one of these participation procedures in their professional or personal life, like a request made to an administrative body that is taking too long to be decided, or some illegal or wrong procedure from that institution which is damaging one or more of their rights. (15 min)


Support tools

− Attendance list

− Evaluation method: The 5 fingers of a hand:

- Thumb - what I considered cool?

- Forefinger: what I point out (for good or for bad)?

- Middle finger: what I considered bad?

- Ring finger: my relation with the group of participants?

- Little finger: what was not enough?




Ideas for action

If needed think on make a complain to the Ombudsman to accelerate the process of requesting a Permanent Residence Card or any other requests made to another administration body.



Annex 1: Complete the Sentence

Annex 2: European Institutions Cards

Annex 3: National Instututions

Annex 4: Exercício do Direito de Petição (Th Right of Petition)


Annex 6: Democratic Bodies UE and Portugal


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