When I decided to embark on discovering my democratic competence (or the lack of it), I looked for help at the European Council. I figured that they should know, and they did, or at least they offered a Framework to help me start my journey:
The EU Council’s competence model includes 20 competences, in four groups:
Values, Attitudes, Skills, and Knowledge & Critical Understanding.
What exactly are “competences” then? According to this model, the term “competence” “refers to the psychological resources (such as attitudes, skills and knowledge) that need to be mobilised and deployed to meet the demands and challenges of democratic and intercultural situations“. An individual is deemed to be acting competently when “he or she meets the demands, challenges and opportunities that are presented by democratic and intercultural situations appropriately and effectively by mobilising and deploying some or all of these 20 competences“.
Democracy seems to provide two types of situations that pose these challenges and demands or offer opportunities:
democratic situations, and intercultural situations.
When discussing VALUES later in the text, citizens in a democracy are expected to agree on the ‘general belief that other cultural affiliations, cultural variability and diversity, and pluralism of perspectives, views and practices ought to be positively regarded, appreciated and cherished, assuming that cultural diversity is an asset for society;…’
Hm. If diversity is an asset for society, there should be benefits, and people need to have competences to enjoy those? So, in my humble opinion, the term ‘democratic competences’ could describe “…the psychological resources (such as attitudes, skills and knowledge) that need to be mobilised and deployed to meet the demands, challenges & opportunities and enjoy the benefits of democratic and intercultural situations.“
Cool. I am not sure if this demonstrates competence for “critical understanding”, but I sure enjoyed the benefit of being able to express my own few cents on “democratic competences” without going to jail or being shot on the street.