The City of Venice (Commune di Venezia) is one of 7 provinces in the Veneto Region. In turn the city has 6 Municipalities located both on the traditional islands and the mainland. Marghera is one of these Municipalities, each of which has its own Council linked to the City of Venice. Marghera is a relatively new area; based on the mainland it includes the commercial port for the region, excellent transport links as well as extensive housing.
In the 1950s the population of the islands was as high as 150,000 people; with the decline of heavy industry and after the floods of the 70s people began to leave, and the population of old Venice is now less than 60,000, with some 20,000 in Marghera. As well as experiencing depopulation in the target area, there has been a rise in the number of immigrants, some of whom feel little connection to local communities and politics.
The City’s response is to build solidarity and develop a new approach to citizenship by involving community members outside the political mainstream in decisions that affect them. Essentially the project was to train and equip a number of community representatives, known as Area or Zonal Delegates (Delegatzioni di Zona), to participate in the political affairs of the Council of the Municipality along with elected politicians.
This project is unique among the ones studied in that it consciously sets out to involve citizens in making decision that affect their lives. Of particular interest is the fact that it allows for a political class and the community sector to work together.