Dilemmas of Participatory Budgeting From The Perspective of The Polish Law and Experience

Thomasz Nowak


[extract] This article presents dilemmas of participatory budgeting on the basis of the Polish budget law and on the basis of the Polish experience in this matter.

Three remarks should be made at the beginning. Firstly, nowadays the participatory budgeting is a permanent element of budget planning in the municipalities in Poland. This practice is already noticeable even in cities with a population of 50,000. It is therefore not only an issue of big cities. Secondly, the characteristics of the participatory budgeting do not seem to be a matter of a dispute in Poland. They are as follows: 1) the participatory budgeting should include the whole community, not just a part of it; 2) the participatory budgeting is adopted as a result of a public discussion, which is open to all the residents of the municipality; 3) the specific amount of money is allocated by the residents; 4) the local authorities are bound by the choice of the residents; 5) the participatory budgeting is a long-term process, which means that it should not be limited to one year only. Thirdly, legal aspects of the participatory budgeting are exclusively the subject of this study. However, it is obvious that the budget is also an institution of the political system, so it is impossible to completely ignore the political and social conditions related to the participatory budgeting. Furthermore, as regards the subject of the budget it is also impossible to move away from the issues relating to public management. However, legal issues remain the main reference point of this study, and aspects of the political, sociological and management are taken into account only as necessary aspects to determine the legal issues.

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