Throughout the last few years, Poland has made significant strides toward adopting and developing participatory budgeting as a basic form of deliberative democracy. Through examining these situations, it has become clear that participatory budgeting can take more than one shape and that it frequently adapts itself to the specifics of each community. This study, therefore, concentrates on the Dbrowa Górnicza district in Poland and discovers that the method implemented there is remarkably comparable to the one used in Porto Alegre. We believe that a particular case study can contribute to the further normative development of participatory budgeting and raise awareness about how participatory budgeting can affect the growth of a city. The case studies presented in the concluding section of this paper show that each update of participatory budgeting has helped to raise awareness and understanding of the challenges associated with urban development. At the same time, it has led to a shift in the process from one based on voting to one based on participatory governance.
Problems and Purpose
The use of participatory budgeting diversifies public projects in local communities, and the shared participation of citizens in decision-making makes places better, leading to an understanding of how to become better citizens. The Polish city of Dąbrowa Górnicza is one of the places where the use of participatory budgeting has allowed more people in Dąbrowa to become part of the decision-making process. However, in the process of using it, some research problems slowly emerge, leading to an inefficient process. In addition, it is costly in terms of human and financial resources throughout the process. To address these issues, governments and participatory policymakers have been discussing and mulling over developing complementary mechanisms for some activities with design flaws over a long period. Based on European models of participatory budgeting, this paper selects the introduction of participatory budgeting in the Polish city of Dąbrowa Górnicza as a case study, describes the issues involved by discussing the evolution of participatory budgeting in Polish cities, analyses and explains its results and the reasons for its creation, and makes some suggestions for improvement within the framework.
Background History & Context
In Europe, participatory budgeting is a consultative mechanism whereby the public can decide on part or all of the available budget or the final use of public resources  . Participatory budgeting is flourishing in Polish cities, Dąbrowa Górnicz is a city in southern Poland with a population of about 120,000 where citizens of Dąbrowa Górnicz can make decisions about the use of the local public budget, with funds focused on the repair and maintenance of the city's infrastructure. The first version of the DBP (Dabrowa Participatory Budgeting - Dąbrowski Budżet Partycypacyjny) started in 2014 , with citizens seeking a budget of 5 million zloty (PLN) for the future of the city's 27 districts. Funds were allocated. The DBP has a total of six steps such as educational activities from February to April, project submission from April to May, project validation by local government agencies from May to August, district forums from September to October, participation in the voting and implementation of the voting results in December. The most important of these are the voting and the zonal forums. The entire campaign spans an extended period, and project initiators must consider supplementing the campaign with several other activities and additional amounts.
The Polish city has started implementing participatory budgeting in the last few years, using the Local Government Act as the legal basis for using participatory budgeting, but this has given rise to two types of problems. , one category is the lack of specific provisions for citizen participation, which then means that there is no legal basis for reference, and secondly, there are no specific restrictions on participants, such as the age, status and occupation of participants. According to a statement by the government of Dabrova-Gornica, the city attaches great importance to this form of contact with its residents. It is constantly improving and expanding its use . However, the data collected shows that more than half of the city's population is still not actively involved in the various public consultations. The city authorities have spoken to these residents. However, a large group of people still actively participate in the city's public consultations and influence. Most of the population is still actively involved in the city's public consultation activities, influencing the city's development and acting as participants in the city's future development. Participatory budgeting is still a new tool for participatory governance.
The first participatory budgeting in Poland took place in Plock between 2003 and 2005, when the City Hall, PKN Orlen and the United Nations created a "grant fund" for which local NGOs applied for funding for their projects , Namely, in 2011, the funds were officially appointed to the public budget. This initiative inspired many Polish local governments to use participatory budgeting, so much so that by the end of 2013, at least 72 towns in Poland had decided to use it.
Poland also has the vastest experience implementing a public budget in Sopot, where a series of social campaigns on "democracy is not just about elections" were carried out. A year later, a referendum law was passed, establishing a public budget where residents could propose projects on any subject without financial restrictions, subject to institutional validation. The local government also invited residents to give their opinion on the feasibility of projects in the area, establishing a Citizens' Budget Committee, where citizens could vote on local projects, as well as on some projects in the municipal area, participation in internet voting is higher in larger cities, so sometimes different voting methods are set up depending on the network coverage of the city and those less involved in voting could do other tasks such as verifying the projects submitted or monitoring the process of implementing PB tasks.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Research Group on Government Public Activities based in Dąbrowa Górnicza, to provide citizens with more information to help them make decisions, the local government has organized an advisory committee of 21 members, made up of representative，s of the municipality, the municipal council and local NGOs.
The Dąbrowa Górnicza government, under the influence of lobbying on the part of the district council, has similarly developed a voting strategy whereby the organizers of projects decide to choose between submitting projects jointly within the region or submitting only a few selected projects with their values indicated. Then the city council organizes a meeting to which residents with the right to vote are invited, organizes a meeting to consult them, and then the residents who participate in the meeting vote on The government then reviews each of the projects in turn and allocates public budget funds to each of the projects that have been voted on. During this process, many local NGOs carried out many activities to help raise awareness of participatory budgeting among the more involved and non-participating residents. The change from paper to electronic voting, for example, made the whole process more efficient and broadened the participation of different population sectors, making decision-making more scientific.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
In 2014, DBP (Dabrowa Participatory Budgeting - Dabrowski Budet Partycypacyjny) launched its inaugural edition. The municipality has been divided into 27 wards. The city has approximately 121,000 inhabitants, and local citizens can decide how much the local public budget is spent. The amount of money that Community members can directly decide on is up to PLN 5 million . From 2014 to 2017, The Act of Local Government stipulated that all citizens may participate in the consultation process, which serves as the legal foundation for participatory budgeting in Poland. Following the legislation, every citizen can participate in the consultation process. This indicates that there is no legally sound basis for imposing restrictions on those who can participate. In actuality, localities implement several restrictions that are tied to age. Participation in the process is typically restricted to people at least 16 or 18 years old .
A significant issue relates to the breadth of topics considered when project proposals are being formulated. In actuality, there are no constraints regarding the subject matter, and participants are free to propose projects related to a wide variety of facets of urban development. It is essential to stress that, in many instances, the participants' activities are restricted to submitting the project and voting on it . In most cases, every step comes after the debate on the project, which would help with more profound thought about strategic topics such as the difficulties, vision, and top priorities of urban development. Regarding the geographical dimension, participants situate the project following the territorial division that is decided upon throughout the participatory budgeting process. In participatory budgeting, local governments need to allow the majority of citizens to participate in the decision-making process, and Participants can choose from a wide range of voting options . Moreover, voting options for participants include mail, e-mail, and ballot boxes. The percentage of people who vote online increases with city size . Citizens can participate in the process without investing much time; nevertheless, some people might vote without giving it much thought. When projects fall short of the voters' expectations, they put them in a difficult position.
This local participatory budgeting deliberative process is divided into six steps. They were starting with a two-month education campaign designed to increase civic and democratic education, transparency in government, and opportunities for participation by historically marginalized groups. Then they may submit projects for the district in which they live as well as the entire city, choosing initiatives for downtowns, city center parks, etc. . The second step takes one month to submit the identified projects to the municipality, where they are reviewed and approved by the local government body, after which community members are asked to vote on the final list of projects through a debate in a regional forum. The aim of making the final issue the result of a debate rather than a blind vote.
District Residents' Forums were the DBP's next phase and a significant part of the process on the scale of Poland. The forum's purpose was to clarify official announcements and develop a list of projects up for voting in a particular district through community discussion.
Methods and Tools used
Dabrowa Gornicza Development Initiative stated its demand for implementing participatory budgeting as a method of democratic innovation. Additionally, they pleaded for "systematic solutions, not one-off acts." In addition, Dabrowa Gornicza Development Initiative was adamant that "systematic solutions, as opposed to one-off operations," be implemented. It is a method of democratic innovation gaining more and more popularity. It is broadly characterised as "a decision-making process through which citizens discourse and negotiate over the distribution of public resources." This methodology is becoming increasingly common. Participatory budgeting is quickly emerging as a method of democratic innovation that is gaining more and more traction. Participatory budgeting has several benefits, including the improvement of civic and democratic education, the expansion of opportunities for participation by groups that were previously excluded from decision-making, and an increase in the level of transparency that exists within the government. Participatory budgeting carries with it a host of advantages as well. Participatory budgeting is rapidly becoming an attractive alternative to traditional approaches to formulating plans to allocate public funds.
An administrative committee was set up in 2011 to manage the project during this same time, and that is when the participatory budgeting process got started. The mayor, town administration officials, and city council members made up the Committee . The Committee has the campaign to promote participatory budgeting across the city planning with the town hall. The participatory budget in Dąbrowa Górnicz took the form of a referendum carried over to 2017 . It was an opportunity to explain and present each project that had been submitted. Council members and applicants participated in the meetings and described the rationale for their investments. DBP encouraged any interested citizen. The list of projects was then put to the vote, either instantly, by mail, or in person at consultation points. Every adult citizen over the age of 16 in a given area can give a score out of ten to the projects they admire. The proposals that received the highest scores were put into action. These projects receive the most support in most regions before the funds allocated to a particular region are exhausted. Where the level of public participation is not achieved, the government have the responsibility to take measures to increase the interest of citizens in participating. Projects created at Resident Forums during workshops arranged for the people of specific neighbourhood units are submitted as part of the traditional Dabrowa Gornicza participatory budgeting (used in 35 districts). Residents can get information, ask questions, and share comments at consultation desks set up in various neighbourhood units. Each community has consultants whose job is to support the process of identifying needs and developing solutions.
The simple fact attests to the local authorities' appreciation of the value of social engagement that the DBP procedure was open to consultation. The authorities felt it was essential to discuss the format of DBP and specific initiatives . The participatory budgeting process experienced additional alterations during the subsequent three iterations. In order to decrease the risk of executing initiatives with little support, the criteria of public access and the minimum number of votes that a project is required to receive before being performed were established. The voting period was prolonged, and candidates were offered additional duties, including the need to include a budget plan and any necessary approvals with their applications.
What Went On: Deliberation, Decisions and Public Interaction
The DG participatory budgeting process, which has been in effect since 2013, consists of several steps, starting with the submission of a request. Residents can submit their project proposals in a group format and give their reasons. At this stage, the area was initially divided into 27 zones, which were increased to 30 in 2015 . In addition, applications must be submitted by at least 15 people, and each person needs to be more significant than 16. The project then needs to be reviewed and approved by the municipalities and other authorities. If there is a rejection, the reasons are given, and alternatives are offered.
The next stage of the DBP is the residents' forum (DFM). At this stage, a vote is taken on the list of projects in some areas to present the primary reviewer's views clearly. At this point in the process, councilors and applicants are asked to explain their reasons for supporting the project. Each resident can vote and consult the discussion by mail and electronically. After the vote, eligible residents will score the projects and proposals they support, and in most areas, the projects with the highest scores will be prioritized for funding. In a few places, there is a surplus of funds after supporting the most popular projects, which can be used to support other projects with a high number of votes.
The DBP process underwent some updates in 2015 after a practical experience. It added the step of DBP public hearings. During the hearings, participants can give their opinion on the stages of the project process. The next step in the new model for submitting ideas has changed somewhat compared to previous project submissions. In this model, each resident can contribute ideas for their area, and the process of presenting ideas has been simplified. The submitter only needs to submit their ideas for the place they want to implement and does not need to submit a cost assessment, as was the case before. On this basis, the relevant authorities will check the proposal against the material.
The next stage in the new model is the selection of projects, which involves a series of meetings and workshops, and this is the challenge for the DBP in the new model, as the sophistication of the workshops determines whether they can replace the traditional voting method previously in place. At this stage, a series of meetings are held to decide which ideas are to be implemented, after which everyone needs to work on the project implementation; for example, the proponents and the government staff should determine the specific details and performance of the planned investment. In a series of workshops, corresponding mapping sessions are held, and priorities and related issues are raised. For example, who is the receptive group to the idea? What are the characteristics of the potential user group? Where is the practical application of the concept? What kind of problems are solved? In these questions, the social activists draw some conclusions in the elaboration of the project proponents and make them available to the public.
Considering the funding and reasonableness of the current version is also the next step. When judging whether the current version of the idea can be made concrete and implementable, citizens need to consider the possibility of a local call for funding and how it can help with regional development. Supporters also need to consider the difficulty and complexity of the project proposal. Ultimately, community members will integrate all perspectives to ensure the project is implemented.
In cases of disagreement, voting is the most crucial step to ensure the implementation of the project. In this part of the voting, DBP is divided into acceptance and rejection of votes, as well as number and percentage. Among the proposals for related projects, the proportion of proposals that wanted infrastructure improvements such as road parking and sidewalks was about 40 percent. Specifically, the most vocal goal was to expand the parking lot. However, because of the limited percentage of beneficiaries, these proposals were not accepted in the formal vote . The projects that were eventually adopted included the expansion of parks and gymnasiums, and school infrastructure such as libraries. At the turnout level, instead, the highest turnout was in the less populated areas, as these citizens had to choose a project to propose.
In implementing these steps, comparing the specific features and related changes of these two DBP is helpful. It contributes to improving our knowledge of the development of public management in the cities in question and a better understanding of the relevant changes from the voting method to the way and process of citizen participation in governance.
Influence, Outcomes and Effects
The above analysis makes it easy to see that the DBP has solved many of the problems associated with cities that have implemented participatory budgeting and provided a good model for participatory budgeting in Poland .
1. DG did not simply copy the model of its predecessors but analyzed the specific problems and designed a specialized model according to its own needs and in line with local characteristics.
2. To a certain extent, this model has weakened the role of the town hall in terms of procedures. The decision-making process relies heavily on cooperation and communication between the residents and the evaluation of the project.
3. The confrontational voting model is abandoned in the voting process, e.g., the residents are more concerned with voting for each other than the priorities.
4. In the allocation of funds, the PB legally can use 1% of the financial scale, while the municipality can dispose of the rest of the budget. So, in that case, significant and expensive investments should not be decided lightly to make the process legality and localization. They must go through the legal process so that DBP can avoid more substantial conflicts and meet more claims.
Indeed, the case of Polish cities also faces many difficulties, and the government and policy designers need to address several areas for customer service. First of all, there is a need for more diverse deliberation modes, such as debates. Second, in terms of procedural implementation, multiple parties have not considered and negotiated the participatory budgeting process, and there is still a predominance of local governments. Also, the procedures should consider that different types of urban spaces should develop specific and other strategies. Furthermore, the criteria for project review are unclear, and politicians can more easily use the process to defend their image. These difficulties need to be overcome with more detailed and optimized solutions. The last point is that this model's projects mainly focus on expanding social infrastructure but neglect the importance of the superstructure of policy inclusion and ideas.
However, the case of this Polish city shows the progressive nature of participatory budgeting at the level of public management governance. The changes in the two versions of the DBP show that participatory budgeting is a dynamic process. The local governments concerned need to make specific improvements in the following program implementation process to weaken its weaknesses. In addition, the participatory budgeting process represented by the DPB also has other advantages . For example, the project scope has a broader dimension, a fixed periodicity, a more reasonable regional division, and citizens' needs are considered. These experiences show that participatory budgeting can be a good tool for local governments to promote participatory citizen governance for better urban development and related public resources.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Participatory budgeting has significantly impacted traditional democratic politics since its emergence in the 1980s. It spread rapidly from Brazil to European countries, and there are about 4,500 cases of participatory budgeting in Europe, each case not being the same, and all being the result of adaptation to the national context of each European country, thus achieving a certain level of success. The data shows that participatory budgeting is the most widely used in Eastern Europe, accounting for about 46% of the whole. Poland is the largest of these, accounting for about 40%, with a total of 1,850 relevant cases, so the Dąbrowa Górnicza region in Poland has been chosen as a very representative case study for this paper, and the conclusions it draws are convincing. The following conclusions are based on Smith's (2009) six democratic frameworks and the analysis of specific local cases.
Firstly, in terms of participatory inclusiveness, the recruitment policy for participatory budgeting in the Dąbrowa Górnicza region is very liberal, and he believes that all citizens can participate, which is in line with Polish law. Furthermore, it has also undergone modifications after the initial rules were established in 2014, which increased the motivation of citizens to participate in participatory budgeting by modifying how they participate in voting. It did this by expanding offline voting to the possibility of voting by mail and online, which aligns with the principle of inclusiveness and allows for a broader range of people to participate in decision-making. Secondly, concerning popular control, although citizens have an equal right to participate, due to the need to guarantee the quality of participatory budgeting projects, participants are often limited to 16 years of age and above. Submitting projects requires a joint effort by 15 or more people. This is because the organizers believe that too young may be unable to judge fully and that projects with too few people are not as broad in scope. After a project has been submitted, it needs to be reviewed by a management committee, which is generally made up of the mayor and city councillors, to guarantee the project's reliability and facilitate its achievement rather than a blind vote. This is a very positive attempt to balance equal participation with the right to actual control. Thirdly, there are issues related to judgement because after each project has been proposed, according to the DBP procedure, it needs to go to the regional residents' forum stage. This part is also the core of the whole participatory budget. Once the list of projects has been published, citizens must vote on the content. As citizens are often unfamiliar with all projects, they must be articulated and assisted by the applicant and the management committee. Citizens' decisions should result from careful consideration, so they have the right to ask questions and comment before reaching a conclusion. This initiative also helps make the project more complete and widely applicable.
In addition, three other areas of competence can be assessed concerning the findings: transparency, efficiency, and transferability, all of which are closely linked to the organizers of participatory budgets. The organizers of participatory budgets are generally the government departments that need to ensure transparency in their work to gain the public's trust. In this case, the first part of the deliberative process is an education campaign to strengthen the quality of citizens and make policy-making serve a broader public while increasing government transparency. The public can also ask questions and demand explanations about the various items of the participatory budget through forums and communities, which enables citizens to have the power of review, and the transparency of the participatory budget is guaranteed. Then, because there is a limit to the project's overall budget on which participatory budgeting can make decisions, efficiency becomes very important. However, the Dąbrowa Górnicza region has adopted the simplest method of decision-making, namely voting, with ballot boxes placed in each community and various online methods that allow participants to participate without investing too much time. Although this method is straightforward to operate, it can also be very costly and labour-intensive, and for a cost control point of view, this method still has many drawbacks. It is not very efficient. Finally, the last of Smith's six democratic product frameworks is transformability. This should not be overlooked, as the participatory budgeting projects at Dąbrowa Górnicza all relate to public space and infrastructure. Its themes are diverse, but they also raise several questions. Most notably, in 2015, the DBP was extended to 30 regions, and some citizens started to vote collaboratively to get the policies they wanted to be implemented to the disadvantage of less populated areas.
Therefore, the widespread use of participatory budgeting in Poland and Europe is inevitable, as its advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Participatory budgeting is highly inclusive and transparent, and there is a good balance between the right to participate and the actual control of policy. However, some of its disadvantages cannot be ignored. It is too rigidly structured, often relies on only one voting method to make decisions, needs to be better controlled in terms of cost-effectiveness, requires a lot of time and money and could be more efficient. Development requires change, starting with the modernization of public administration (Sintomer, Herzberg and Rocke, 2008). Because society is constantly changing, internal organizational structures should also be adapted to serve the public better.
Furthermore, as participatory budgeting is not a formal governmental organization, it requires the assistance of other sectors (Allegretti & Herzberg, 2004). It is usually oriented towards individual citizens and lacks the involvement of other organizations or government departments. In practice, efficiency would be significantly enhanced if we could work together, and the development process would avoid being held up by external factors.
In conclusion, Dbrowa Górnicz's analysis shows that the promotion of participatory budgeting can undoubtedly positively impact citizens' participation in democratizing politics. However, we should not look at short-term benefits at the expense of long-term developments. Therefore, in the future, participatory budgeting should correct the shortcomings mentioned in this paper, take various forms when making decisions, and continue to evolve with the times. All in all, participatory budgeting still has a long way to go.
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