BETWEEN FREEDOM AND PATERNALISM. LATVIAN SOCIETY IN SEARCH OF BALANCE
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EU integration requires increasingly active participation of EU citizens in the decision-making process and local governance in order to overcome the 'democracy deficit' and achieve greater legitimacy of European and national governance. The central actor in this process is civil society, which has to reconcile two mutually exclusive desires that are dominant in each society, namely, the desire of society to be independent from the state and, at the same time, its desire to be under national guardianship. A fragmented and weak civil society cannot balance both desires. The aim of this article is to ascertain the opinions of the wider unorganised society of Latvia on the relations between society and state, on the state's contribution in facilitating the consolidation of democracy, on negations for which, according to society, the state is to blame, as well as on the prospects for developing a civil society. Latvian society believes that the present confrontation of the state and society could be reduced if public institutions were more actively involve society in the decision-making process and if they facilitated the development of a civil society, reduced social fragmentation and improved the quality of services offered to society. However, society's opinions on possible ways to improve the quality of services differ among people belonging to the two largest communities - Latvians and non-Latvians.
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