Originally published 10 February 2014 at Mediacentar Online.
Plenum – What is a plenum? A plenum is an assembly of all the members of a group. It is a public space for debate. It has no leaders or prohibitions. Decisions are made publicly.
Today the Tuzla Canton Citizens’ Plenum has received support from public institutions in the city of Tuzla and other institutions in B&H and abroad. Across Bosnia, plenums are being set up. The people recognise this open and transparent model of assembly activity, in which decisions are made about the public good without any leaders or prohibitions, as saving them from corruption, hopelessness and poverty.
Q: What is a plenum?
A: Plenum – What is a plenum? A plenum is an assembly of all the members of a group. It is a public space for debate. It has no leaders or prohibitions. Decisions are made publicly.
In Tuzla, a Tuzla Canton Citizens’ Plenum has been set up which is making decisions about its own future, for the good of us all. A plenum is a public space for debate. A plenum has no leaders or prohibitions. Decisions are made through a public vote. A plenum is not a political party, or an NGO, or a one-person association. A plenum is the real, and the only, democracy. A Plenum makes and adopts demands to all the institutions of state power by its own declaration. Everybody stands behind the declarations, because they are the words of us all and the demands of us all. All other modes of activity towards the institutions of state power are a continuation of corruption, party-political thievery, and the pursuit of personal benefit and enrichment at the expense of a robbed people.
PHOTO: Damir Arsenijević speaks at the Tuzla Plenum, 9 February 2014.
Q: Why a plenum?
A: Why a plenum? Because it’s open to all. Everyone has the right to vote, everyone has the right to participate. A plenum is open, it does not just have representatives of state power and organisations sitting in it. Everybody has one vote, it’s a space without prohibitions and it belongs to everyone.
Q: How does a plenum work?
A: Everyone participates who wants to. One person, one vote. People take turns to speak.
Q: Who can take part in a plenum and who can make decisions?
A: Everyone who wants to participate makes decisions. There are rules of behaviour which the participants establish at the beginning of a plenum meeting. All the participants make decisions at the plenum on a majority principle, participants vote for or against. The option to abstain is not recognised at a plenum, because it just complicates the decision-making process.
Q: Who leads a plenum?
A: Plenums do not have leaders, there are moderators chosen at sessions who manage the discussion and set out how much time to give for speakers and what the day’s agenda is. Moderators have the right to warn participants that the debate has deviated from the main topic and that they should come back to the primary topic. This is for the sake of saving time. At a plenum there are not functions like spokesperson, representative or delegate. If there is a need for someone to appear in public to give a statement, interview or something like that, people can recommend themselves with the support of the other participants, or the plenum can recommend someone. The next session’s moderator is chosen at the end of each session.
Q: How are decisions made at a plenum?
People vote for or against. Decisions are made on a majority basis. If there is no consensus, i.e. if the number of votes for and against is equal, the participants find a compromise which will not satisfy everyone completely, but will give the best possible solution for a given problem in a given situation. This is a massive advantage of voting without abstentions, because a decision will always exist, and not just disappear in discussion, which is often the case in the parliamentary form of decision-making.
Yesterday’s session resolved:
MANIFESTO OF THE PLENUM OF THE CITIZENS OF THE TUZLA CANTON
Peaceful protests continue in Tuzla. We issue our support to all the protests in the various cities of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Assembly of the Tuzla Canton, in keeping with its constitutional responsibilities, has all the necessary legal mechanisms at its disposal to ensure the functioning of the government in the interests of the citizens. It is misinformation, which is attempting to mislead the public, that the resignation of the government of Tuzla Canton has created a legal vacuum.
1. That the authorities of the Tuzla Canton, in keeping with their constitutional responsibilities, ensure the safety of all participants engaged in the protests.
2. That the Assembly of the Tuzla Canton, in keeping with its constitutional responsibilities, immediately ensures functioning governance of the territory of the Tuzla Canton with no members of the previous government appointed to it.
3. That in cooperation with the Citizens’ Plenum, the Assembly of the Tuzla Canton will appoint an expert government, no later than March 1st, 2014, comprising non-partisan, ethically uncompromised experts.
This Manifesto is issued by the Plenum of the Citizens of the Tuzla Canton, and is for the benefit of us all.
Damir Arsenijević talks to al-Jazeera: