Public Participation in Local Government
Practical Experience and Lessons Learned
- Written By: Moran Nagid
- Publication Date:
- Cover Type: Download only | Hebrew
- Number Of Pages: 119 Pages
- Center: Center for Democratic Values and Institutions
Recognition of the democratic significance of public participation in the decision-making process has led to significant growth in the number and diversity of initiatives to increase public participation all over the world. At the same time, doubt has begun to be cast on the quality of these processes. Responding to this criticism, this policy paper examines and evaluates the extent to which public participation mechanisms have been successful and sets out guidelines for a successful model of public participation.
Recognition of the democratic significance of public participation in the decision-making process, and the perception that it can strengthen government and enhance its relationship with citizens, have led to significant growth in the number and diversity of initiatives to increase public-participation all over the world.
At the same time, however, doubt has begun to be cast on the quality of these processes. It is has been argued that this field has developed without sufficient evaluation and without examination of important issues. A literature review reveals a vast gulf between the normative discourse and the empirical evidence that would be required to corroborate the assertions that underlie the principle of public participation. It seems there has been no demonstration of the effectiveness of public participation initiatives and their contribution to improving governance and decision-making processes, enhancing democracy or empowering citizens.
Responding to this criticism, and in order to fill in the research gap, this policy paper examines and evaluates the extent to which public participation mechanisms have been successful and sets out guidelines for a successful model of public participation. Such a model should be capable of promoting democratic principles of equality, transparency, and fair representation, and improving the quality of decision-making processes and policymaking. Drawing on extensive scholarly literature, an independent study of public participation mechanisms currently employed in Israel, and interviews with experts, this paper identifies strong and weak points and draws practical lessons. It includes detailed recommendations and guidelines that could be of great benefit to all those who wish to initiate and conduct appropriate and effective public participation processes in local and even national government.
Moran Nagid is a former member of the Israel Democracy Institute's research staff, who is currently working on a doctorate in law at Bar-Ilan University. Her areas of expertise are local government and public and administrative law.