Popular Assembly – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

The popular assembly is a congregation of anonymous people without positions in the Government who, faced with a situation of collective unrest, meet to deliberate and establish a joint plan that changes certain dimensions of the social, political and economic system of a given territory, usually a country.

A popular assembly is a meeting of citizens whose purpose is to deliberate and organize to achieve social or economic changes in a given administration.

Although it also has another meaning, in some countries of socialist or communist inspiration, the legislative body of the country is called a popular assembly. As these ideologies, theoretically, represent the common people, and not the social and economic elites, the adjective “popular” indicates the character of representation of these citizens. Thus they seek to achieve greater legitimacy.

Characteristics of a popular assembly

Popular assemblies, as deliberative and decision-making associations, have the following characteristics:

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  • Citizen composition: They are created from below, that is, they are the citizens belonging to the lower and middle classes who organize and make up the assemblies.
  • Are deliberative: The debate among its attendees is one of its lines of action.
  • arise from discomfort: The popular assemblies do not arise in periods of well-being, but rather in periods of crisis or social injustice. They are created in order to act and change some aspect of the system.
  • decision making: The assemblies, in addition to denouncing socioeconomic injustices, are also there to take action. These are usually agreed by the majority of the assembly.
  • They are decentralized: The popular assemblies are highly decentralized organizations, their territorial unit is usually the neighborhood or district. This, due to the difficulty of coordinating a large number of people. Although there may be assemblies of a greater scope.
  • Lower hierarchy: Although, in principle, these organizations are based on the principle of equality, a certain leadership that directs the assembly does originate. This can arise in a planned or spontaneous way.
  • Direct Democracy: It is another of the principles of the popular assemblies, each citizen represents himself, thus having a voice and a vote in deliberation and decision-making.
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Some examples of popular assemblies:

  • Argentina (2001-2002): In December 2001, Argentina experienced one of the worst crises in its history, the corralito. At the end of the 1990s, Argentina was going through a situation of deep crisis, unemployment, and high spending and public deficit. Due to the great economic recession, the Government limited capital operations, as well as the weekly extraction of money by citizens. This led to the fact that, starting in December 2001, the residents of the cities organized themselves in order to protest against the Government and the situation that had taken place, meeting in neighborhood assemblies, debating and discussing the future of the country.
  • 15 M (2011): After the global crisis of 2008, Spain, like other countries, suffered severely from the consequences, high unemployment, uncontrolled deficit and debt, cuts in public services, etc. In this context, in May 2011, protests arose in Madrid in order to denounce the situation of widespread precariousness among many people in the country. These protests became assemblies organized by all the neighborhoods of Madrid and other locations. Some of the measures taken by the popular assemblies affected banking, politicians, health, education, corruption, among many other issues. Movements and parties like Podemos also emerged.
  • Soviet: The soviets were assemblies of workers and workers and, although their origin dates back to 1905, it was not until the Russian revolution of 1917 that they gained great weight. They deliberated on how the revolution that would overthrow tsarism and impose the revolutionary regime should be carried out. As of 1922 and the constitution of the USSR, the Soviet would become one of the components of the Government. Each city had a soviet, whose elite represented their soviet in higher ones. The highest commanding soviet was the Supreme Soviet.
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