Democracy and participation, Urban and rural development

Citizens' Assembly on the Future of Kisavas

Taking steps towards community planning, active citizenship and democratising local decision-making by deliberation in Miskolc.

Creators

Who is behind this?

Áron Csere

Dialogue for Communities Public Benefit Association

http://www.dialogegyesulet.hu/

Hungary

Who is joining forces?

DemNet Foundation for Development for Democratic Rights

https://demnet.hu/

Hungary


Our aim with the partnership is twofold: to ensure local embeddedness by Dialóg being responsible for overall project coordination, and to guarantee oversight of methodology by involving DemNet.

Idea

Idea pitch

Our proposal is for a radical change to democracy in Miskolc that cuts through partisan politics and ensures quality decisions: let 50 randomly selected local citizens decide together how to develop the city's Kisavas district! The outcome will be a clear and inclusive path to development for the district; it will demonstrate to the council and the wider population that informed local citizens are more effective and able to produce better decisions than processes driven solely by politicians

Where will your project idea take place?

Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, Miskolc, Kisavas district

What is the local challenge?

The Northern Hungary region with Miskolc at its centre, has a rich industrial past in heavy industry; traditional industries were first established in the 18th century. Repressive power relations established during socialism, during which much of the current worker and middle classes grew up, resulted in passivity in terms of civic participation. With the end of socialism, much of the industry collapsed and the region fell into deep recession, with mass unemployment. Today we see fragmented communities, lack of civic engagement and a politically generated mood against civil society more broadly.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

Due to the problems mentioned above, civic knowledge and engagement are both very low among local residents, the citizens’ assembly will allow for them to directly participate in a learning process in which they will ultimately be deciding on the directions of change at the city-level. Together, they will come up with solutions that take into account interests and values in the assembly. Our hope is that this experience will lead the municipality to incorporate this methodology in future planning processes. This citizens’ assembly complements our work in several districts across the city to support the creation of small groups and community spaces for civic initiatives and the introduction of participatory budgeting.

Who are you doing it for?

With this methodology, we are targeting the population of the city as a whole in the most representative way possible. The participant selection process will ensure that the assembly will also include participants from groups that are generally marginalised and excluded from decision-making. Interest groups as well as experts will also participate in the process to --inform the assembly. We will look to include the following in the process:
- informal groups we have worked with in Avas;
- local green NGOs to ensure sustainability of the development;
- local heritage groups;
- youth NGOs working to combat youth emigration;
- groups for people with disabilities;
- members of segregated communities living in the urban periphery with limited access to urban services.

How do you plan to get there?

- The vice-mayor of Miskolc already gave us informal confirmation of their commitment to the process.
- Reaching formal agreement with the council on the level of political commitment. Min. requirement is that the CA recommendations are made available to the public and that the council publicly reacts to it (incl. explanation on what will be what won't be implemented).
- Defining CA contents in cooperation with stakeholders, experts and civil society actors.
- Creating a channel for contributions for the general public.
- The CA itself will consist of learning about the subject followed by facilitated deliberation and decision making. Duration of the CA is a total of 4 days.
- Preparing report of CA recommendations for the Council.
- Reflexion and feedback is integral to the process.

What are the expected results?

- High quality decisions are made on the development of Kisavas that take into account the needs of and have buy-in from all sectors of Miskolc society
- 50 participants of the CA will be involved in a democratic decision making process.
- Local NGOs will have more knowledge on participatory, deliberative processes.
- The council’s knowledge will increase on participatory democracy & will commit to organise future CAs.
- Support of the general public for participation in Miskolc will increase.
- Dialogue's relationship with the council will be stronger, promoting political support for civic initiatives.
- The CA at the city level will strengthen the local community development work done by the association so far, and we will use the experience in Dialogue’s future work.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Our idea is to demonstrate the power of a properly organised citizen-led participatory democratic process as an answer to address politically challenging issues. We would be showcasing a viable alternative to increasingly authoritarian and populist political developments weakening democratic institutions across Europe (eg. Brexit referendum, the rise of illiberalism). The initiative will demonstrate how an effective dialogue between sectors can be reached by providing a model of participation, that ensures the development of the quality of existing democratic processes and preserves democratic values. We believe that the general tendency towards disillusionment in democracy can be countered by creating a new platform where citizens can express their opinions and make their voices heard.

What is your story?

Dialogue’s mission to strengthen public participation, along with active citizenship and social capital. We work to support the establishment of civic initiatives and ensure that formal and informal communities bring about changes that ensure a better quality of life, and take on a watchdogging role.

Active citizenship is the glue that holds a democratic society together. The empowerment of communities to effectively participate in the management of their common issues at the local, national or global level cannot work without providing adequate access to information and the skills to understand and discuss them. Through its work DemNet strives to implement these principles in practice and to disseminate them as widely as possible.

€ 46000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 46000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

HR, consultancy
Project coordination 4300
Process design, project support 9800
Table facilitation 6000
Lead experts 1400
Harvesting, report preparation 1000
Communication 2000
Logistics
Invitation list, printing & mailing invites, onboarding 4200
Participant remuneration 5700
Venue, catering 4700
Video documentation, travel cost 700
Other
Website & online comms 700
Office expenses 2500
Finance administration 2000
Workshop and training 1000

Team

dialog.egyesulet

Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on May 26, 2020

Write comment