New Tools for Civic Participation
Last week the National day of citizens’ participation and Expo was held in Sofia. Under the title “Access for Citizens”, the Forum welcomed over 100 participants, representatives of the central government, municipalities, civic organizations, networks and coalitions from all over the country.
The main focus of the discussions were the challenges and opportunities before institutions and citizens interaction and good governance at local level. The Mayor of Elena, Mr. Dilyan Mlazev made an overview of citizens’ participation and good practices in the municipalities which have been part of the good governance process for many years.
Some of the most interesting practices of civic participation were the Ordinance for conducting public consultations, elaborated by Sofia Municipality in close cooperation with Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law. It creates a mechanism for effectively involving citizens in local decision-making processes with a focus on public consultation as an open governance tool. The other good practice was the establishment of municipal funds in partnership with Agora Platform that support local initiatives in nine municipalities. These instruments provide for citizens’ involvement in solving long-term problems in the community. As a result of the cooperation between the public institutions and non-profit organizations the project CONSUL was established – the biggest project for digital democracy. CONSUL is a digital open source platform for civic participation and is one of the most frequently used instrument in the world, covering more than 130 public administrations. The platform consists of modules, designed to support all processes, ensuring the civic participation and democracy: civic initiatives, participatory budgeting, legislation drafting through consultation and debates, collaborative planning and consultation through voting. The versatility of the platform makes it easier for public authorities to launch citizen involvement processes by opening up new channels for participation.
The Civic Participation Forum and the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law proposed that these instruments can be adapted and made available to 7 pilot municipalities free of charge through the “Access for Citizens” project.
Photo: Main speakers of the forum (Mr. Dilyan Mlazev, first from the right)