The municipality of Enschede in the Netherlands holds an innovative Participatory Budgeting event called the ‘motiemarkt’ (resolution-market) every fall, allowing citizens and civil society groups to convince elected officials on their budget proposals.
Problems and Purpose
Every fall, the municipality of Enschede, Netherlands, establishes a budget for the coming years. A preliminary version is proposed by the executive board, which is then modified by motions and amendments from the municipal council. Generally these modifications are thought up by political parties. The purpose of the ‘motiemarkt’ (motion-market) is to allow citizens and civil society groups to present their own ideas and convince elected politicians to adopt these and to facilitate ideas from wider society to reach the level of policy. The first motiemarkt was scheduled for October 31st, 2011, one week before the city council was scheduled to discuss the budget for the 2012-2015 period.
Background History and Context
The first Motiemarkt was organized in the context of the project ‘Koers 053’ (Direction 053, the area code of Enschede), which seeks to bring the political process in Enschede closer to the citizens beyond the election period. It makes the work done by the municipality in between elections transparent, by presenting the yearly policy-making cycle in an accessible manner. It does so by presenting this cycle in 4 stages:
- ‘Enschede has’, in which the financial and demographic statistics of the city are analyzed;
- ‘Enschede justifies’, in which the actions and decisions taken during the previous year are assessed;
- ‘Enschede chooses’, in which plans for the coming year are decided upon; and
- ‘Enschede does’, in which the plans are elaborated in further detail and then executed.
The motiemarkt is organized as part of ‘Enschede chooses’, to not only provide transparent information, but also allow citizens to influence the most important policy decisions.
Since the first ‘motion market’ in October 2011, markets have become an annual event. Two markets were held in 2012 after the municipality determined that additional budget cuts were needed for 2013.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The motiemarkt was initiated and is fully funded by the municipal government of Enschede. The costs of the event are not known exactly, since it was organized with a small number of participants, in a building owned by the municipality.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Around a dozen groups presented an idea during each of the ‘motion markets. Participants were self selected: citizens and civil society organizations could, individually or in groups, register for the event and then they would be assigned a table. Each year, the motiemarkt has been held on a Monday evening, and registration is open until the morning of the day of the event.
Methods and Tools Used
The 'Motion-Market' is a method unto itself and is similar to the process used for Participatory Budgeting in the United Kingdom. Many PB events hold some kind of public event to allow participants to 'sell' their ideas to city officials.
The motiemarkt is, perhaps, more deliberative than other forms of these events such as the typical UK presentation style. The event generally unfolds as follows: citizens and civil society organizations present ideas in the ‘market’, with every group having their own stall. Members of the city council walk around in a shopping manner, looking at the ideas and talking to their supporters. Every time a match is established between a council member and the initiator(s) of an idea, they sign an agreement committing them to jointly draft the text for a motion or amendment. Council members then propose the results during a city council meeting on the budget for final approval from other councillors.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The motiemarkt lasts for a few hours. The first, in 2011, was held from 18:30 until 20:30, and the one in October 2013 from 19:15 until 21:45. The evening starts with an explanation of the rules and procedure of the market, after which every group occupies their own market stall. The motiemarkt allows for one-on-one, face-to-face discussion, negotiation, and bargaining between the proposer and government official. Participants get a chance to answer questions and discuss plans for implementation before being endorsed. During the motiemarkt, four reactions are possible from each council member on every idea: the expressed intention to draft a motion; support for the initiative; further appointment to discuss the idea at a later date; or only speaking without further action intended. Council members are free to support any idea they wish, or none, while ideas can also be supported (or even turned into a concrete proposal) by several council members.
After the evening of the event, the citizens and council members have between one and three weeks to convert the idea into a concrete motion or amendment. These are then proposed during the budget discussions of the municipal council, and are subject to a majority vote like any other motion. The results are communicated to the participants and the wider population through the media and through the Koers053 website.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The ideas presented at the motiemarkt have generally been considered concrete and useful. They have been proposed by a mix of individual citizens and active community groups, such as voluntary village/neighbourhood councils or charity organizations like the food bank. The amount of ideas that are taken up by one or more council members is high: between half and a fourth of the suggestions presented. The majority of these have subsequently been adopted by the council.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The motiemarkt has been a great initiative to bring new ideas to the attention of policymakers in a structured manner. The open-endedness of the project makes it difficult to assess how much influence citizens actually wield though. Politicians can pick from the ideas and choose those which are in accordance with their already established preferences, using the motiemarkt just to give them added legitimacy. On the other hand, most of these motions are not about ideological issues, but about very concrete and practical concerns. The motiemarkt helps to bring topics on the agenda which might have otherwise not been considered. Given the large proportion of ideas that get turned into motions or amendments and subsequently accepted, the project seems to be fairly successful at involving citizens in the agenda-setting process at the local level.
All information is in Dutch.
- The ‘motiemarkt’ as a method: http://www.participatiewijzer.nl/Alle-methodes/MOTIEMARKT [DEAD LINK]
- Motions accepted in 2012: http://koers053.enschede.nl/actueel/article_2012_11_16_00001/ [BROKEN LINK]
- Announcement of project in local news: http://www.twentejournaal.nl/artikel/7378-laat-je-idee-vertalen-in-een-motie-tijdens-de-motiemarkt_2.html
- Schematic overview of the reaction of various politicians to the ideas presented in 2013: http://www.enschede.nl/gemeente/gemeenteraad/00012/Archief/10_juni_2013___Enschede_Kiest/Resultaten_motiemarkt/ [DEAD LINK]
- Facts about the 'Motiemarkt': https://www.enschede.nl/weetjes-over-de-motiemarkt