Participatory budgeting in Poland: Quasi-referendum instead of deliberation

Dawid Szescilo  


Dawid Szescilo  
Public Administration Research Group 
Faculty of Law and Administration 
University of Warsaw


Participatory budgeting (PB) is a global phenomenon exemplifying a shift towards collaborative and participatory governance. This umbrella term embraces a huge variety of mechanisms of public participation in the budgetary process: from advanced consultation to a specific type of direct democracy. This article presents the results of extensive analysis of the Polish model of PB applied in nine municipalities of different size. It demonstrates that the model disseminated in Poland is based on quasi-referendum that guarantees the citizens direct impact on local budgets. However, participation is limited to minor part of local budgets and it is not accompanied with public deliberation over strategic issues. Therefore, the Polish model of PB does not offer genuine shift towards participatory local governance. 

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