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Citizens Decide: Citizens’ Initiative

Civic participation Completed
2014-03-03 - 2015-10-31
387 050,00 PLN
348 252,42 PLN
national policies
Project description
In recent years, Poles have become increasingly keen to benefit from the citizens’ initiative (CI), a democratic vehicle that enables citizens to champion specific legislative changes in areas they find relevant. Experiences of the Foundation INSPRO have proved that there are numerous roadblocks that hamper application of citizen-driven laws. These are both factors related to the content of the law, as well as the parliamentary practice.

The project was meant to encourage citizens to enhance participatory democracy measures, with stress on the citizens’ initiative. It was addressed in particular to digital media users and the MPs.
Its key deliverables include the launch of a public debate on the direct democracy in Poland. One of its results was the tagline “Citizens Decide” being used on election billboards by the incumbent PM, Beata Szydło. It also delivered greater support for the campaign. The “Citizens Decide” community has more than 240,000 fans. Nevertheless, the project failed to deliver its expected outcome, or the proposal for amendment of the CI act lodged by the non-partisan parliamentary coalition. The main challenge was posed by the mindset of the ruling Civic Platform - Polish People’s Party coalition which opposed the proposal for amendment put forward by the Institute.

A social campaign which tapped into context of municipal elections of 2014 was rolled out as part of the project. Since CIs are not implemented on the local level, what prevents local government officials from shaping them, the communication put the spotlight on encouraging Poles to track the actual follow-up on election promises made by politicians. The initiative was reinforced by a produced TV and a radio spot. Enormous commitment of citizens (more than 15,000) clearly demonstrated that we want to make decisions and put the authorities under scrutiny. The Institute held two seminars attended by more than 100 people. As part of advocacy measures, meetings were arranged with all parliamentary party leaders and representatives of the President of the Republic of Poland.
Cooperation with the Icelandic Citizens Foundations led to exchange of know-how in harnessing the Internet to encourage citizens to take up social initiatives.
We use the grant for capacity building