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Popular Assemblies and Couto Misto - Describing a form of democracy even accepted by anarchists

Explaining popular assembly

By NatureTreePublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read
Popular Assemblies and Couto Misto - Describing a form of democracy even accepted by anarchists
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There are a bunch of different forms of democracy out there and I am going to mention different forms of democracy that exist, then describe at least one successful example of this form of democracy in order to show that this form of democratic government can function practically in real life. The first of these forms of democracy I am writing about is known as a popular assembly or a citizens' assembly.

What is a popular assembly? According to Collins Dictionary, it is a form of government where citizens of a country or organization come together as a group "to discuss an issue of national importance and make recommendations about policy". This type of government is a form of operated direct democracy & can even be worked into other forms of government.

Many different groups of people, even those who might despise more traditional forms of government, have been accepting of the popular assembly form of government. Anarchists like anarchosyndicalists accept popular assembly as a form of democracy and a way to form a proper free society. There are libertarian ideologies such as democratic confederalism that also accept having popular assemblies as a way to arrive at decisions for a functioning community. So, many people who have a huge desire to be free and independent see popular assemblies as a potential way to achieve that freedom and fortunately for them, citizen assemblies are a proven form of government that has been implemented practically by an actual functioning society in history.

Back in the tenth century, there was a nation that came into existence by the name of Couto Misto. The country was a regional power that existed between the borders of the nations of Spain and Portugal. No one knows how exactly this nation came to be, but there is a story from oral tradition that says a princess by the name of Ilduara Eriz - who later became a Catholic saint - founded refugee in some villages in a region debated by nobles to give birth to her son, Saint Rudesind Guterri. After giving birth to her son, she was so grateful to the villagers that she worked to set up a popular assembly & formed the nation of Couto Misto!

The motto for the country was "tres unum sunt", which is Latin for the phrase 'three are one'. This phrase represents how Couto Misto was originally formed from the fusing of three villages: Santiago de Rubias, Rubias, and Meaus. Santiago de Rubias was the capital of the country and functioned as the center of the nation.

While decisions were made by citizens coming together for assemblies, there had to be a representative - a democratically chosen citizen in uniform - to be allowed to go out and speak to the rest of Catholic society and Europe on behalf of the citizens of the country. Thus, the people of Couto Misto would have a democratically elected official called a judge.

Couto Misto is interesting for the fact that it is not only a successful example of a popular assembly but possibly the longest-lasting example of a popular assembly form of government for an independent nation in recorded history! It was founded all the way back in the nine hundreds and was able to survive until the year 1868 when it was formally annexed by Portugal and Spain.


- Andrew Flood, "The Zapatistas, anarchism and 'Direct democracy'", Anarcho-Syndicalist Review 27 (Winter 1999)

- Biehl, Janet (16 February 2012). "Bookchin, Öcalan, and the Dialectics of Democracy". New Compass.

- “Citizens’ Assembly Definition and Meaning | Collins English Dictionary.” Collins Dictionary, 2024, www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/citizens-assembly.

- García Mañá, Luis Manuel (1988). The Spanish-Portuguese border in the province of Ourense (Annex 11, Auriense Bulletin) . Ourense: Provincial Archaeological Museum.

- López Mira, Álvaro Xosé (2008). "O Couto Mixto: Self-government, borders and distant sovereignties," in Madrygal , 11: 35-39.

- Morais, Maria João Moreira de (2000). "Os promsíscuos povos eo Couto Misto na raia transmontana/ourensana," in Kremer, Dieter, Ed., Actas do VI Congreso Internacional de Estudos Galegos . Trier: Universität Trier, pp. 861–867.

- Öcalan, Abdullah (2011). Democratic Confederalism (PDF). Translated by International Initiative Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan. London: Transmedia Publishing. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-9567514-2-3.

- "Treaty on boundaries between Spain and Portugal from the mouth of the Minho river to the junction of the Rio Caya with the Guadiana". United Nations . September 29, 1864 .


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