Participatory budgeting is and aid to good economy and can restore the trust of citizens in politics. However, although a powerful tool, it is not a magic wand and also hinges on political will. The key prerequisite is for citizens to realize that they can and should take part in political decision making, with the ability to truly impact the decisions that are made. Finally, these decisions must be implemented in order for citizens not to lose trust or interest in further participation. These were the main messages sent out from the Second Conference on Good Economy, organized last week in Zagreb by the Green Network of Activist Groups (ZMAG) and the Cooperative for Good Economy.
Should counties be abolished, is there a need to reduce the number of cities and municipalities and why is decentralization such a frequent buzzword? How can the power of local political bosses be curbed and the quality of governing common goods and public services increased? Are election results important for the results of LOTUS and where do citizens and civil society organizations fit in, besides sports clubs, cultural associations and hunting sportsmen’s clubs?
We looked for answers to these and other important questions in an interview with Nives Miošić, head of GONG’s Research Centre, and researcher Dražen Hoffmann, after this year’s round of LOTUS (Croatian: Lokalna Odgovorna i Transparentna Uprava i Samouprava, Accountable and Transparent Local Administration and Self-Government[DH1] ) research demonstrated that as many as 1.473.218 Croatian citizens – a third of the entire population [DH2] – live in in environments that do not enable them to be active and responsible citizens, as opposed to passive subjects.
Although the inhabitants of Rijeka can boast living in the most transparent city in Croatia, with the Varaždin county in the lead among the twenty counties and Belica taking the first place among municipalities, on the whole, every third citizen of Croatia lives “in the dark” – show the results of the LOTUS openness and accountability research. The research was carried out for the third time by GONG and the Association of Cities in Croatia, lasting from late June to early October 2014 and encompassing all 576 local and regional self-government units in Croatia.
Although water is a common good, water services in Croatia are governed authoritatively and hierarchically, with the debate on a new model of governance still limited to „a choice“ between two supposed alternatives: either privatization, or status quo in terms of an ineffective, corruptive and clientelistic mode of resource governance.
Instead, the reform of governing water services should be based more on a network model of participative governance – concludes a comprehensive research on the governance of water services in the Republic of Croatia, conducted by Friends of the Earth Croatia, the Right to the City Movement, Green Istria, Heinrich Boell Stiftung, Art Workshop Lazareti and the Multimedia Institute, in cooperation with the Faculty of Political Science. The research was conducted within the framework of the “Corruption SONAR” project and has resulted in a publication entitled “Our water – an analysis of water service governance in Croatia”.
The government on Thursday sent to parliament a bill of amendments to the state administration law under which the current 20 state administration offices would be reorganised into five.