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Faces of Open Government: Basque Country

Rostros de Gobierno Abierto: Isabel Moya Pérez

The Basque Country in Spain has been working to involve different levels of administrations (local, regional and autonomous) and citizens in the policy-making process. Government reformers are engaging a variety of actors to ensure the different realities and perspectives of Basque Country are reflected in the process and policy outcomes.

Arantza Otaolea from the Bilbao Women’s Council and co-president of OGP Euskadi, and Mikel Barturen from Sareen Sarea, an association that groups the networks of entities of the social sector, are participants in OGP Euskadi’s civil society forum. In this interview, they share why citizen participation is fundamental to open government.  

What brought you closer to the issues of transparency, inclusion, participation, and accountability? 


The opportunity to amplify citizens’ voices through constructive criticism is crucial. In any area, it underscores the importance of soft skills and good governance. This entails fostering collaborative work, building networks, and setting goals with measurable results.

When I was elected co-president of OGP Euskadi, I found myself involved in a world that I had followed in a tangential way and now became a part of. To enhance the effectiveness of my involvement, I dedicated myself to gaining a deeper understanding of public management, transparency, participation, and accountability.


I am part of a vast and diverse network of civil society organizations committed to the social inclusion of the most vulnerable people, families, groups, and communities. 

That’s how I became closer to OGP’s values. Institutions are tools at the service of citizens, which should ensure their well-being. After all, institutions exist thanks to the contributions and resources that citizens provide to public administrations for their maintenance. We are facing great challenges for humanity, and it requires the participation of everyone, without excluding anyone. If we truly seek change rooted in democratic legitimacy, we must ensure that civil society remains connected and engaged with its institutions

Euskadi is an autonomous community of Spain considered a “historical nationality” because of its collective, linguistic, and cultural identity. How is this identity reflected in the open government structure of Euskadi?


Our goal is to provide equal access to services and a common language that is understandable to all citizens. We seek collaboration between institutions to establish common minimum requirements, regardless of the size of the institution. 

For each commitment of the OGP action plan, one administration assumes the leadership and the budget for its development, and the final results are made available to all Basque administrations. This aligns with Sustainable Development Goal 17, “Partnership For the Goals,” and is based on the principles of open government.

We have established a forum that encourages the participation of a diverse society. It takes into account different sensitivities, needs, and interests, including urban and rural visions, various age groups, social exclusion, and migration, all with a gender perspective.


In the Basque Country, we have a complex institutional architecture that encompasses multiple jurisdictional and territorial levels. It has been a wise decision to involve all three levels – municipal, regional, and autonomous – in the open government experience to avoid dysfunctionality.

Our idiosyncrasy allows for institutions that are closer to citizens, more responsive to the impulses of civil society. In our case, the greater the level of self-government, the greater the institutional openness, participation, impulse, development, and social legitimacy.

The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) has acknowledged the enhanced role of civil society in the “Foro Regular de Euskadi”. What recommendations would you offer to other members of the Partnership in this regard?


Political participation is no longer simply seen as exercising the right to vote but rather as requiring active engagement. If we expect people to invest their time and dedication, we must also value their contributions, as these will yield meaningful results.

Undoubtedly, the greater the number of participants involved, the more complex the participation becomes. However, this leads to a deeper understanding of the issues at hand and how they impact different groups. It ultimately improves the overall processes, resulting in more significant and tangible outcomes.


Broadening participation enriches processes and enhances the impact and results. While it undoubtedly requires additional effort, the benefits make it well worth the investment.

ALTXOR is one of the commitments within your OGP action plan, that offers information, guidance, intermediation, and specialized support for individuals over 65 years of age. What do you want to achieve with this commitment, and how did you incorporate a gender perspective into its implementation?


ALTXOR, which translates to “treasure” or “capital,” emerged as a response to the co-creation proposals for the second OGP action plan of Euskadi. Upon analyzing these proposals, it became evident that many of them converged around addressing the needs of people aged 65 and above. This initiative seeks to foster collaboration between the government and social organizations representing the elderly. Notably, it has been funded through the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility, underscoring its importance. The proposal aims to allow older people to do what interests them – without limitations due to their age – and live a full life.

From their inception, peer working groups have embraced a gender perspective. Surveys conducted have addressed both common and gender-specific challenges faced by women. Consideration has been given to factors such as time availability, economic capacity, and other aspects influenced by age and geographic location. Furthermore, the service has been designed with usability and the digital divide in mind, ensuring that older women have access to user-friendly applications.

The budget transparency and accountability tool stands out as one of the most captivating commitments within the OGP action plan being implemented in the Basque Country. What is the objective behind this commitment?


Citizen participation in public policy is a right, a responsibility, and a necessity. It is crucial to overcome the crisis of confidence in institutions through honesty, transparency, and a genuine commitment to citizens.

The transparency and accountability tool that we are currently developing focuses on budgetary matters and targets all three levels of the Basque administrations. Its main objective is to provide accessible public accounts to all citizens, using simple and visually engaging language. Specifically, the tool aims to inform individuals about how our institutions utilize tax revenues. This enables citizens to critically analyze the allocation of resources within their closest governing bodies and actively participate by making well-informed and thoughtful proposals. Civil society organizations must similarly demonstrate unwavering commitment and transparency in their actions.

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