Independent youth association
City of Lepoglava
Institute of public finance Croatia
Partnership is arranged with relevant stakeholders in the participatory budgeting process and their roles were carefully defined based on experience and field of expertise relevant for this process.
The main challenge is the low level of participation of citizens in our local community in decision making which will be tackled with implementing the process of participatory budgeting, the process in which the community members have the opportunity to decide how a part of the public budget will be spent. We aim to increase the capacity and make citizens competent to take part in the democratic processes thus gradually raising the level of citizens' active participation and sense of democracy.
City of Lepoglava, Croatia.
We look at last year's election turnout for the representatives of the local neighborhood councils that was 30%, which shows us how low active participation of citizens on the local level really is. We conducted a survey among local citizens to examine the reasons behind it and results showed that citizens do not perceive councils as an important part of the decision making process and a base through which they could make the change. This is also why they aren’t running for becoming the members of the councils thus getting involved in the decision-making process on a local level. In addition to that it showed that citizens do not feel competent enough and are aware of the need to be additionally educated to raise their capacities to be actively involved in the democratic processes.
The goal is to empower citizens to be a part of democratic processes by using participatory budgeting, a process where community members decide about how the local budget is being spent and who are directly involved in the decision making process in their local communities and it is based on their opinion and concrete proposals that decision on the allocation of public budget is being made. Based on research (Kriesi, 2007) it’s shown that citizens who have access to relevant information and who are well educated, actively participate in the decision-making process which benefits their local community the most. The implementation of this process improves the quality of the decisions and raises the competences of citizens to contribute to other decisions and policies made on a local level.
We are doing it for the local citizens with a focus being on raising their competences to participate in the democratic processes. On the other hand, we’re doing it for the local government for them to realize the potential and the benefits of including citizens in the decision-making process such as improving the quality of decisions that are being made, active and satisfied citizens, and improved quality of life. It is our aim in the long term to also empower citizens competences to monitor and participate in the process and other decisions or policies that are being made on a local level to raise their quality of life in the community. We aim to also raise the competences in our organization to ensure continuity, successful implementation, and transparency of this process in the future.
Our organization is going to lead the process and make sure that relevant stakeholders are educated and later on to overlook the process and ensure its successful implementation and transparency. The first step is the education of local ambassadors that will be responsible to educate local citizens while also promoting the process, raising awareness, and motivating people to take action. Also, we’ll educate representatives of city and city council. This will be done so that locals understand the process, their role in it and getting competent to take part in it.
The second step is to start the process, hold meetings and gather different ideas, opinions, perspectives and generate concrete proposals that will be presented and discussed with local decision-makers and included in the budget.
With the emphasis being on active participation and democracy, we’ll now have educated citizens competent for participation in the decision-making process on a local level thus leading to a higher quality of the decisions made. With the implementation of this project, we will strengthen the capacities of the parties involved in the process, those being our organization which will lead the whole process thus having the key role in it, local decision-makers (city administration, council) and residents (neighborhood councils, CSO’s). We aim to hold meetings with relevant stakeholders and face different perspectives, opinions and ideas thus making the local government realize the benefits of opening up to local citizens which leads to a more successful city and higher satisfaction of citizens.
The participatory budgeting process goes way back and it’s an awarded process in Europe involving local population in the decision making of the highest order.
We think that the goal is to widen the approach, expand the process implementation across Europe and serve as an example of good practice with motivating more local governments, CSO’s and the public to participate in it and in that way, raise the quality of the implementation of public policies and good governance locally.
We will have the capacities and ambassadors with relevant knowledge so we can transfer it to other city administrations, CSO’s and the ambassadors who will lead the process and have the role of “watchdogs” in their local communities.
We’ll make use of our contacts across Europe to disseminate project results.
We are the association who is trying to involve young people at the early stages of their life to actively participate in the local community, to empower them and make them competent to do so.
As they are our target group, it is of vast importance for us to include them at this level, to raise the awareness of the importance of this process and its benefits for them as young people, their personal and professional development but also the community in general and to give them a chance to participate in the decision-making process so that they could themselves one day be the ambassadors of this democratic process and of active citizenship.
We also want to raise the activity level of citizens in general to improve the quality of creating and implementing public policies on a local level.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel (project manager, training) 20.000
Office expenses (rent - activities and project management will be carried out in our office – conference room) 4.200
Utility costs (utilities, telecommunications) 2.100
Accounting costs (Service - higher costs because of new income) 1.300
Public relations (visibility and dissemination) 4.000
Web development (web platform) 7.000
Equipment (laptop, software, projector) 2.000
Traveling expenses 2.000
Unexpected costs 2.000
We would like organizations, institutions, etc. that might have the experience with the implementation of this process to share it with us - their example, impressions, quality, and the sustainability of the process.