First citizens' assembly in South Eastern Europe presents results
The first Citizens' Assembly of South Eastern Europe presented its recommendations on 31 July 2021. After four weekends of deliberations, the 47 members of the Citizens' Assembly in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, formulated 26 recommendations, which were supported by more than 80 per cent of the participants. The theme was: "Cleanliness of the city and maintenance of public spaces in Mostar".
The recommendations deal with the following topics
- Design and use of public spaces and creation of new spaces
- Sensitisation and education of citizens
- Reorganisation of the public utilities
- Waste management
- Institutionalisation of the citizens' assembly
The recommendations have been forwarded to the Municipality and the City Council of Mostar for consideration and further action. At 16 November 2021 the City Council unanimously adopted the Action plan on the implementation of all 32 recommendations created by the Citizens' Assembly.
The implementation of the citizens' assembly had a long lead time. With the support of a polling institute, 5,000 letters had been sent to randomly selected households in Mostar on 7 June 2021. The letters contained a two-part questionnaire for the final selection of a topic for the Mostar citizens' assembly and for participation in the assembly itself.
Three topics to choose from
From the three previously defined topics
- Cleanliness of the city and maintenance of public spaces in Mostar.
- Creating new jobs and fighting unemployment
- Supporting young people's job search and helping them to start their own business
the citizens who had received the letter could vote on the theme of the citizens' assembly. The proposed topics had been developed by members of the local administration together with representatives from civil society and academia. The decision criteria included the resources available in the administration and the actual possibilities for dealing with the topics. Prior to this, 20 topic suggestions from the population had been submitted via an online survey.
A maximum of two people over the age of 16 from one household could apply to participate in the citizens' assembly. The questionnaire could be answered via an online form, by telephone or Viber number and at a ballot box in the town hall. In addition, the senders of the letters conducted interviews with some of the citizens contacted and introduced them to the citizens' assembly process by asking them a few questions.
By the application deadline on 20 June, 250 applications for participation had been received from citizens. The theme of keeping the city clean and maintaining public spaces had received the most support with 97 votes. A total of 1,068 residents had taken part in the thematic survey. On 29 June 2021, the 40 citizens' assembly participants and eight deputy members had been determined. According to the criteria of gender, age, ethnicity, education, profession and district, a group was formed that is a reflection of the local population. A civil society advisory board monitored compliance with the citizens' assembly standards.
Through the citizens' assembly, the administration in Mostar aimed to seriously address the concerns of the citizens, who will thus be more involved in policy development and local decision-making.
Council of Europe project
The citizens' assembly was organised within the framework of the project "Building Democratic Participation in the City of Mostar". The project was implemented by the Council of Europe Conference of Local and Regional Authorities as part of the Action Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2018 - 2021.
More Information: Citizens' Assembly of Mostar 2021
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