More and more Spanish municipalities are becoming aware of the value of citizen participation when designing policies and public services that better fit the needs of their inhabitants. Although there are several studies that explain this phenomenon from the academic point of view, very few have a practical approach, with simple recommendations that councillors and technicians of citizen participation can apply immediately.
That is why we have conducted this study focused on the real concerns and needs of local governments. To do this, we interviewed councillors and participation technicians from various municipalities and conducted a survey among young people between 18 and 34 years old; with the aim of identifying new strategies to encourage their participation in institutional processes. The study was conducted by Marvin Frömming, a research associate at the Avans University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.
Three main conclusions are drawn from the study:
- Participatory budgeting is booming in Spain, offering a new way to promote collaboration between mayors and their citizens. However, several factors have been identified that are decisive in successfully completing such projects.
- The design and execution of participatory processes is a complex activity that is not always carried out in the most appropriate way. The study reveals the persistence of problems – both internal and external – that end up generating tensions in the participation departments of the municipalities. Technology, in addition to being a useful tool for measuring public opinion, can iron out some of these tensions.
- There is a total disconnect between local governments and younger citizens. Municipalities strive to involve young people in their participatory processes. A correct choice of communication channels can have a major impact on the youth participation rate..
The report shows how the investment Spanish municipalities dedicate to citizen participation has evolved and which autonomous communities invest the most. And finally, practical recommendations are made. This document will be of interest to anyone involved in participatory processes at the local or regional level: Councillors or Secretaries of Citizen Participation, municipal technicians, project managers or leaders of neighbourhood associations.
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