Data

General Issues
Arts, Culture, & Recreation
Education
Health
Specific Topics
Budget - Local
Public Amenities
Environmental Conservation
Collections
University of Southampton Students
Location
Warsaw
Masovian Voivodeship
03
Poland
Scope of Influence
City/Town
Links
https://um.warszawa.pl/waw/bo
Ongoing
Yes
Time Limited or Repeated?
Repeated over time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Deliver goods & services
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Approach
Co-governance
Co-production in form of partnership and/or contract with private organisations
Spectrum of Public Participation
Involve
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Open to All
Targeted Demographics
Men
Women
Youth
General Types of Methods
Community development, organizing, and mobilization
Deliberative and dialogic process
Collaborative approaches
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Manage and/or allocate money or resources
Propose and/or develop policies, ideas, and recommendations
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Both
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Express Opinions/Preferences Only
Information & Learning Resources
Expert Presentations
Written Briefing Materials
Decision Methods
Voting
If Voting
Plurality
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Report
Traditional Media
Primary Organizer/Manager
Shipyard Foundation
Type of Organizer/Manager
Non-Governmental Organization
Local Government
Funder
District Governments in Warsaw
Type of Funder
Local Government
Staff
Yes
Volunteers
Yes
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in civic capacities
Changes in how institutions operate
Changes in people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
Implementers of Change
Lay Public
Elected Public Officials
Formal Evaluation
Yes
Evaluation Report Documents
REPORT_WARSAW-PB-1.pdf

CASE

Warsaw Participatory Budget

9 mei 2022 Nina Sartor
31 januari 2022 Paul Emiljanowicz
29 januari 2022 Paolo Spada
17 januari 2022 ws2g19
24 november 2021 ws2g19
General Issues
Arts, Culture, & Recreation
Education
Health
Specific Topics
Budget - Local
Public Amenities
Environmental Conservation
Collections
University of Southampton Students
Location
Warsaw
Masovian Voivodeship
03
Poland
Scope of Influence
City/Town
Links
https://um.warszawa.pl/waw/bo
Ongoing
Yes
Time Limited or Repeated?
Repeated over time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Deliver goods & services
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Approach
Co-governance
Co-production in form of partnership and/or contract with private organisations
Spectrum of Public Participation
Involve
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Open to All
Targeted Demographics
Men
Women
Youth
General Types of Methods
Community development, organizing, and mobilization
Deliberative and dialogic process
Collaborative approaches
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Manage and/or allocate money or resources
Propose and/or develop policies, ideas, and recommendations
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Both
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Express Opinions/Preferences Only
Information & Learning Resources
Expert Presentations
Written Briefing Materials
Decision Methods
Voting
If Voting
Plurality
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Report
Traditional Media
Primary Organizer/Manager
Shipyard Foundation
Type of Organizer/Manager
Non-Governmental Organization
Local Government
Funder
District Governments in Warsaw
Type of Funder
Local Government
Staff
Yes
Volunteers
Yes
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in civic capacities
Changes in how institutions operate
Changes in people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
Implementers of Change
Lay Public
Elected Public Officials
Formal Evaluation
Yes
Evaluation Report Documents
REPORT_WARSAW-PB-1.pdf

The Warsaw Participatory Budget (PB) is a series of annual budgets in the 18 individual districts of Warsaw. The budget aims to allow citizens to take responsibility for urban life in the city.

Problems and Purpose

Leading up to the introduction of the budget, the Warsaw Government had faced decreasing public engagement with local politics [1]. Observing the successes of other PBs in the country, such as those held in Sopot, the local government proposed their own PB to tackle these issues. Participatory Budgeting was ultimately chosen, aiming to increase participation in the public debate alongside allowing citizens to influence policy making [2].

Background History and Context

To understand why the Warsaw PB was introduced, it’s important to look at the role of democratic innovations in Poland following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Citizen participation was low in this era, due to a lack of trust in democratic institutions from the public, caused by fears of corruption [3]. Although suggested by various organisations starting in the 1990’s, democratic innovations (such as PBs, mini-publics, etc.) to combat low turnouts were critiqued by government officials [4]. Participatory Budgeting was first introduced to Poland in 2011 in Sopot, despite right-wing mayoral disagreement [5]. Following this, PBs have become a staple of local and regional governments throughout Poland, with around 34% of citizens taking part in forms of budgeting in 2018 [6].

In 2013 organisations led by Shipyard, an NGO concerned with engaging citizens in decision-making [7], aimed to influence the Warsaw government to introduce Participatory Budgeting. It was initially rejected by leaders because the city was not seen to be ready for such an innovation, alongside the lack of resources with which to pursue such an endeavour [8]. However, government opinions quickly changed on the matter and this was speculated by Sudolska-Bytof and Janiak due to the imminent recall referendum of the Warsaw mayor [9]. Participatory Budgeting was proposed to boost the popularity of mayor Hannah Gronkiewicz-Waltz. It sold itself on empowering citizens, which acted as a favourable campaign point for her. 

There were debates held in 2013, organised by City Hall and were designed to help prepare Warsaw for Participatory Budgeting. The first debate was about the proposed Participatory Budgeting in Warsaw and its implementation in other Polish cities. These debates were a first step to show the government’s willingness to engage with citizens and served as a stepping stone towards the first implementation of the budget in 2014 [10].


Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

The Warsaw city government deliberately sought support from both political and economic groups. Politically driven organisers include the NGO’s: Shipyard, Dialogue Field Foundation, Res Publica, and The Batory Foundation. The Foundation for Social and Economic Initiatives was included as an economically driven group [11]. This was done to achieve a wider outlook on the practical running of the budget and fiscal realities.

The Centre for Social Communications is the government department in the Warsaw City Hall which is responsible for overseeing the PB. This includes not only its running but also its advertising to citizens and increasing engagement with the PB [12]. 

In terms of the specific support these organisations undertook, the Shipyard and Dialog Field Foundation were both involved in the initial attempts to persuade the Warsaw government to introduce PB in the city. The other groups were part of a series of debates which took place over the course of the PB’s existence. 

These organisations, which include NGOs as well as government organisations, helped to create and strengthen the Council for Participatory Budgeting, which is mainly made up of experts in the field and government officials. This council’s role was to assess and monitor the process of the PB, and is there to influence how it functions and what adaptations are applied to it [13]. 

In order to arrange all of the different legislative and representative bodies within the scheme, the organisers have created a number of positions of responsibility to give individuals the power to organise free debate. The positions of responsibility form teams, working at the district level which are responsible for monitoring and supporting its day-to-day working. They help to mediate the consideration and consultation of all relevant external parties that would be involved in the implementation of policy. They are appointed to these positions through the resolution of the district board rather than a direct vote [14]. One of their most prominent roles is defining the meaning of public availability, which in turn determines what projects should be submitted [15].

Participant Recruitment and Selection

This scheme is interesting in allowing people who live outside the Warsaw districts and non-regular inhabitants of the city to vote. The PB also allows people of any age to vote, helping to vastly improve overall engagement with the scheme. Where these participants are limited is in proposing legislation. Only a citizen of one of the 18 districts of Warsaw may propose a policy to fund. Of those who proposed policy the vast majority were acting as a representative for a larger NGO, suggesting that whilst people aren’t formally blocked from making a proposal, considerable support may be required for one to be successful. 

Prior to any actual vote being held, the city administration recruits the aforementioned PB teams in each district to monitor fair process and support the decision-making process, calling for additional education resources if needed to achieve considered judgement. These teams are recruited only from their own district in the city. These teams are made up of 18-24 citizens, who all have a wide range of backgrounds. They include groups such as members of the Youth District Council, representatives from NGO’s and employees of the District Office [16]. By including regular citizens at this level of the PB it gives them a sense of purpose and ownership, encouraging them to take on responsibility and become invested in the project’s success. However, the government is still able to interfere and look at the process directly. 

The government department ultimately responsible for advertising the PB to the people of Warsaw is the Centre for Social Communication. They use tools such as posters on public transport, in shops and schools as well as more modern techniques such as TV adverts and social media posts [17] .They also attempted to reach out to the public using events like conferences and workshops to not only garner interest but also to search for ideas to improve accessibility to the scheme. People were also taken on as volunteers to promote the PB to citizens in the streets [18]. 

There have been regular surveys of Warsaw residents on their views of the PB. This has come in the form of annual reports in which project proposers and voters are surveyed [19] and this canvassing is a clear indicator of the Warsaw City Hall attempting to constantly improve the PB’s process. 

Methods and Tools Used

Participatory Budgeting is described as “a new decision-making mechanism open to the public that allows the participants to shape a portion of the city budget” [20]. First introduced in the city of Porto Alegre in 1989, PB has become an increasingly popular democratic innovation and as of 2019 there were over 10,000 PBs around the world [21].

This PB is a hybrid scheme which used e-democracy tools such as online voting. Deliberation and project submission also took place online. Individuals could access discussion boards for short periods of time when it suited them. It also allowed for individuals with disabilities that would otherwise prevent them from attending to participate as well. However, the scheme ensured that those who were both physically unable to attend and lacked digital literacy were also accommodated.

Deliberation was used during the process, involving citizens discussing and debating online. This method enabled citizens to gain more knowledge of Participatory Budgeting as well as learn from other citizens who have different perspectives from their own. This also allowed citizens to have a chance to properly debate the proposals.


What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation

After assembling the PB teams, the next stage was the submission of projects by citizens, a key aspect of citizen participation. This takes place at the very beginning of the year, with all submissions in by the of January. Even these initial proposals had to meet certain requirements, for example they had to be available to use for free [22]. Although citizens are free to propose suggestions under any of these topics, each year there is a thematic focus for the budget. These have included titles such as “Ready, steady, go… Warsaw!” and “We are changing Warsaw. Warsaw 2.0”. These have looked at improving the city in specific areas (as recommended by the mayor). However, citizen proposals were by no means focused on any one specific area, and they were able to propose projects on any topic.

Deliberation amongst citizens takes place after the submission of projects, however there are no formal meetings that take place to discuss projects, and it only takes place on online forums [23]. This is the beginning of the four month deliberation process. 

The next phase of the process, where projects were assessed, was mainly controlled by Warsaw City Hall and citizens played little part in it. This takes place from the end of January, after all the projects have been submitted, until May. The assessment of projects is based on a number of factors, including the cost of the projects, their accessibility to residents, and whether they fit in the competences of the local government. There is some communication between the government and proposers of projects during this phase, though, as if any changes are made to the projects, those who have proposed the projects are consulted on this [24]. This trade-off in limiting citizen involvement is necessary at this stage as it would be better for government officials to assess whether a project is viable due to their expertise. 

Voting then takes place, usually in late May or early June, on projects which have been assessed as viable by the government. This is another example of online participation being used because voting takes place in person and online [25]. This serves its function of the process being accessible and an interesting innovation of the PB e-voting mechanism in Warsaw is children are allowed to vote [26]. Due to the way that the cost of each project was a factor in determining which projects were finally implemented, citizens’ influence in this stage is somewhat limited by local government, although it is still considerable as they still come to a formal, meaningful decision on which projects are ultimately implemented.

Ideas that are selected are ranked using two criteria. Firstly, they are ranked by the most votes, this is where direct democracy is injected into the scheme. After this, they were introduced to the second criteria which was the cost of the proposed policy. When both of these factors were considered, the policies were then implemented. Due to the limited resources of the PB, the cost of each approved proposal was weighed slightly above the total number of votes.

There is also a trade-off when each project is implemented, between citizen involvement and the effectiveness of the process being controlled by City Hall. However it is controlled by City Hall at the moment and this undoubtedly limits citizen involvement.

Evaluation of the Participatory Budgeting takes place throughout the process [27], during which the council for the PB would identify problems and see how they could be improved. An example from the 2019 report was a changing of the voting rules so as to limit the number of projects one can vote on, rather than placing a financial limit [28].

Results of the voting are communicated by the city on the official website in July. This ensures residents, as well as the proposers of projects, are easily able to see which projects have won. The cost of each project is also made public, which is important as it means residents know how the budget is being spent.

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

The implementation of any outcomes is an important criteria to analyse the effectiveness of a PB. In this sense, the PB in Warsaw has been very successful. According to the “Archive of Results”, the vast majority (over 80%) of projects have either been implemented or are in progress in the 2020 edition, to give an example [29]. 

The implemented projects have covered a wide range of topics including conservation, culture, education, and sport [30]. This means that these projects should have had an effect on the lives of all its citizens; all areas of Warsaw life have been included. The outcome has been that the PB has been successful in its implied aim of increasing the democratic involvement of its citizens. 

Analysis and Lessons Learned

In this section, a framework introduce by Graham Smith is used to evaluate the impact of the process on different democratic and institutional goods.

Inclusiveness has been achieved in relation to who can vote, due to it allowing all citizens, including children, to vote. Taking advantage of technology has also allowed those with physical disabilities to participate in the decision making process. However, data has shown that most people who vote are highly educated - 78% in 2018 - and relatively economically comfortable [31]. This suggests more could be done to encourage people from more marginalised groups to participate.

Inclusiveness appears to have been achieved to a lower degree during deliberation. This is due to the absence of any moderators on the online forums on which the only deliberation throughout the process takes place [32]. This means that the discussions may not be fair on everyone involved in terms of letting them voice their opinion equally.

When it comes to popular control within this case, the general public had a lot of influence over the conduct of the PB. The debate agenda was decided not directly by the people of Warsaw but by the members of the District teams. These teams are representatives of the locals and whilst this might decrease the direct control common citizens had over the process, it is far more efficient. With regards to the outcomes of the PB, citizens retained this relatively high level of control, with two direct rounds of voting and organising to decide on implementation [33].

Considered judgement in this case was achieved quite well because there were opportunities for citizens to learn about the process as education on how to submit good projects by government officials. Furthermore, during the deliberation that takes place, citizens can learn about the different proposed projects by questioning the people who proposed the projects, enabling them to make considered judgement when it comes to voting. These deliberations also allowed citizens to learn from people who would have different perspectives or socioeconomic backgrounds, allowing them to take these views into account when voting [34].

The participatory budgeting process was mostly transparent. The results of the voting as well as the costs of each of the projects are publicly available on the official website. Citizens were also involved throughout the process, which ensures that decisions made by the authorities can be scrutinised by citizens. The justification of decisions made by officials during the assessment of projects is also publicly available, which shows transparency even when citizens are less involved [35].

Data surrounding the exact funding of the budget is unavailable online. This makes analysis of the efficiency of the PB difficult but we can look at how efficient it was for the participants involved. The measures to ensure participants could vote online meant that the process was more efficient as voters would have had to commute and engage with a physical bureaucracy. As people could vote in-person if they did not have the internet, this ensured that the process was still efficient for all involved [36]. 

The online aspects of this PB would make it efficient for citizens as it would be more convenient for them and less time consuming. For those who are digitally illiterate, meaning those who don't have an effective understanding of how to use the internet, there were provisions taken . These provisions included in-person voting still being used, with 1% of votes being cast in 2020 being cast using paper cards.

Lastly, PB’s are typically seen as highly transferable. In particular, Polish style PB’s have transferred successfully into Eastern European states, such as Ukraine and Georgia [37]. As the Warsaw PB is inspired in design by other Polish PB’s (namely the Sopot PB) [38], it is successful in its transferability.

This PB is a modernised take on the original concept introduced in Porto Alegre in 1989. It showcases special considerations taken to include everyone, taking into account differing disabilities and levels of digital literacy. It’s different from the original Porto Alegre case in Brazil as it makes better use of the internet. However, citizens have less influence in terms of assessing each individual case and so there are pros and cons in terms of its difference to the original. Furthermore, Porto Alegre’s PB deliberately focused on social justice and improving the lives of poor citizens, whereas Warsaw’s PB was mainly introduced for good governance and increasing public involvement in decision-making. The PB in Warsaw could therefore improve by focusing on social justice, which was an original element of Participatory Budgeting processes [39].

There have been some criticisms made of Warsaw’s PB by third party evaluations. An annual evaluation is conducted by Budżet Obywatelski. These include not having high enough voter turnout, as well as it being difficult to coordinate the process due to Warsaw having 18 districts where this takes place. In 2020 there were 105822 votes cast [40] which is just under 6% of the total population of Warsaw. This low turnout suggests a failure by the local government to encourage citizens to take part and to convince them that it is worth participating. When surveyed, many people in Warsaw argued that the effects are often invisible and there is a distinct lack of information about the process to allow people to trust the project [41].

In comparison to other instances of participatory budgeting, this PB could be improved by making more considered steps to include non-regular citizens of Warsaw. Non-regular citizens of Warsaw are people who live in the city, but who often have to travel for work. It also includes those who commute to the city on a daily basis but may live outside of the city. With more people becoming less static with where they live and work, they are not meeting the criteria of being able to fully participate with this PB. Currently, they are able to vote in the PB, but are unable to contribute proposals. However whilst not meeting this criteria they are still affected by its outcomes and should be taken into account by the participatory process [42].


See Also

Participatory Budgeting (Budżet Obywatelski) in Sopot, Poland. Available at: https://participedia.net/case/4237

References

[1] Sudolska-Bytof, A. & Janiak, M. 2019 Warsaw Participatory Budget: Case Study Report & Analysis. Inicjatywy, Warsaw: 5

[2] Ibid

[3] Wesolowski, W. 1998 “Political Actors and Democracy: Poland 1990-1997” in Polish Sociological Review, 119, 227-248

[4] Sześciło, D. n.d. Participatory Budgeting in Poland: Quasi-referendum instead of deliberation. Available at - https://www.oidp.net/docs/repo/doc629.pdf

[5] Participatory Budgeting (Budżet Obywatelski) in Sopot, Poland. Available at: https://participedia.net/case/4237

[6] Madej, M. 2019 “Participatory Budgeting in the Major Cities in Poland - Case Study of 2018 Editions” in Politics in Central Europe, 15(2), 257-277.

[7] Sudolska-Bytof, A. & Janiak, M. 2019 Warsaw Participatory Budget: Case Study Report & Analysis. Inicjatywy, Warsaw: 7

[8] Ibid: 9

[9] Ibid: 9-10

[10] Ibid: 10-11

[11] Ibid: 6

[12] Ibid: 13-14

[13] Ibid: 12-13

[14] Ibid: 20

[15] Ibid: 21

[16] Ibid: 19

[17] Ibid: 29-31

[18] Ibid: 32

[19] Budżet Obywatelski - Evaluation Study of the 5th edition of the participatory budget in Warsaw. Available at https://um.warszawa.pl/waw/bo/5-edycja

[20] Spada, P. & Allegretti, G. 2017 “Integrating multiple channels of engagement in democratic innovations: Opportunities and challenges”. In, Adria, Marco and Mao, Yuping (eds.) Handbook of Research on Citizen Engagement and Public Participation in the Era of New Media. IGI Global, 20-37: 20

[21] Dias, N., Enríquez, S., Cardita, R., Júlio, S. & Serrano, T. 2021 Participatory Budgeting World Atlas 2020-2021, Venlo, Cimpress

[22] Civic Budget in Warsaw: Questions and Answers, 2021. https://bo.um.warszawa.pl/site/faq

[23] Budżet Obywatelski - Evaluation Study of the 5th edition of the participatory budget in Warsaw. Available at https://um.warszawa.pl/waw/bo/5-edycja: 46-47

[24] Civic Budget in Warsaw: Questions and Answers, 2021. https://bo.um.warszawa.pl/site/faq

[25] Sudolska-Bytof, A. & Janiak, M. 2019 Warsaw Participatory Budget: Case Study Report & Analysis. Inicjatywy, Warsaw: 21

[26] Civic Budget in Warsaw: Questions and Answers. https://bo.um.warszawa.pl/site/faq

[27] Sudolska-Bytof, A. & Janiak, M. 2019 Warsaw Participatory Budget: Case Study Report & Analysis. Inicjatywy, Warsaw: 22

[28] Budżet Obywatelski - Evaluation Study of the 5th edition of the participatory budget in Warsaw. Available at https://um.warszawa.pl/waw/bo/5-edycja: 29

[29] Archive of Results. Civic Budget in Warsaw. 2021 Available at: https://bo.um.warszawa.pl/taskPropose/indexResults?regional=1 

[30] Ibid

[31] Budżet Obywatelski - Evaluation Study of the 5th edition of the participatory budget in Warsaw. Available at https://um.warszawa.pl/waw/bo/5-edycja: 31

[32] Ibid: 47

[33] Sudolska-Bytof, A. & Janiak, M. 2019 Warsaw Participatory Budget: Case Study Report & Analysis. Inicjatywy, Warsaw: 21

[34] Ibid: 34

[35] Sudolska-Bytof, A. & Janiak, M. 2019 Warsaw Participatory Budget: Case Study Report & Analysis. Inicjatywy, Warsaw: 39

[36] Dias, N., Enríquez, S., Cardita, R., Júlio, S. & Serrano, T. 2021 Participatory Budgeting World Atlas 2020-2021, Venlo, Cimpress

[37] Ibid: 57

[38] Participatory Budgeting (Budżet Obywatelski) in Sopot, Poland. Available at: https://participedia.net/case/4237

[39] Sudolska-Bytof, A. & Janiak, M. 2019 Warsaw Participatory Budget: Case Study Report & Analysis. Inicjatywy, Warsaw: 38-39

[40] Budżet Obywatelski - Evaluation study of the 6th edition of the budget in Warsaw Final report, (2020), Available at: 6. edycja (na rok 2020) - Budżet obywatelski (um.warszawa.pl): 25-27

[41] Budżet Obywatelski - Evaluation study of the 6th edition of the budget in Warsaw Final report, (2020), Available at: 6. edycja (na rok 2020) - Budżet obywatelski (um.warszawa.pl): 25

[42] Wampler, B. 2012 “Participatory Budgeting: Core Principles and Key Impacts” in Journal of Public Deliberation, 8(2), 1-13: 5

External Links

Shipyard - https://participedia.net/organization/5961

Dialogue Field Foundation - https://participedia.net/organization/6422

Res Publica - https://participedia.net/organization/4835