Social partnership is increasingly being advocated as a practical mechanism that can add new approaches to seeking a balance between public interests, mainly manifested through the government, private enterprises, organisations and citizen. The traditional concept of bipartite (employers – trade unions) and tripartite partnership (employers – trade unions - government) is being challenged. Often new cross sector policy issues such as the integration of refugees, job creation, regional economic development initiatives (such as for example the East African Community), local recreation facilities, access to water and sanitation, land use, etc. make their way to local policy agendas. At the same time new organisations emerge and gain strength and are increasingly being considered legitimate social partners. The ‘new’ social partnerships include Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and other civic organisations, individual businesses etc. These organisations or parties (stakeholders) have emerged over the recent decades and have, due to their ‘representative’ position within emerging cross sector policy areas, gained status and are increasingly being included in the more formalised social partnership structures as well as in looser social partnership structures. It is consequently, not surprising that the role played by social partnership is being associated with democratic, social and economic progress. It can be argued that social partnership describes an approach to governance where interest groups/stakeholders - outside of elected representatives - play an active and desirable role in decision and policy making. From this point of view social dialogue and partnership does not contradict, but complements classical parliamentary democracies. Social partnerships may extend democracy beyond the traditional democratic practices such as exercising one’s right to vote and the freedom of expression, which, for an...
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