THE ROLE AND IMPACT OF PARTICIPATORY INSTRUMENTS IN POLAND. DUSK OR DAWN OF DIRECT DEMOCRACY?
References: 5th International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts SGEM 2018, www.sgemvienna.org, SGEM2018 Vienna ART Conference Proceedings, ISBN 978-619-7408-30-0 / ISSN 2367-5659, 19 - 21 March, 2018, Vol. 5, Issue 1.1; 387-394 pp, DOI: 10.5593/sgemsocial2018H/11/S02.050
Direct democracy as a concept of empowering citizens by enabling them to directly decide on matters of significant state importance became a very popular and catchy slogan in Poland, similarly to other Central and Eastern European countries, in the early 1990s when the process of constitutional transformation began. Direct democracy was perceived in this context as an instrument of legitimizing the activities of state authorities, such as, above all, the adoption of a new constitution. In Poland, not only the institution of referendum was restored at the national and local level, but for the first time in the history citizens were granted the right of a popular initiative allowing them to submit a draft of a new constitution and later also the drafts of ordinary laws. The author presents the constitutional and statutory bases of current instruments of direct democracy in Poland and provides a critical analysis of the actual significance of these instruments in constitutional practice. These considerations lead to the conclusion that despite the extensive and detailed regulation of the instruments of direct democracy at the national level in Poland - a referendum and a citizens legislative initiative - their practical significance de facto is very limited. What is more, the analysis of the recent constitutional practice clearly indicates that they are prone to be instrumentally used (or even overused) by state authorities for strictly political purposes. In the conclusions, the author proposes de lege ferenda postulates of amendments, the introduction of which would increase the effectiveness of the above instruments and above all make them satisfy their main purpose. At the same time, it is pointed out that participatory democracy at the local level, which despite the constitutional crisis in Poland (or just thanks to it) is developing quite intensively, can be seen as a light at the end of the tunnel. The author presents latest legal solutions in this regard and attempts to answer the question posed in the title: whether the current legal and actual situation determines the dusk of direct democracy in Poland, or the dynamics of development in regard to participatory democracy at the local level allows to talk about perspectives of direct democracy in the nearest future.
Keywords: direct democracy, participatory democracy, referendum, popular initiative, participatory budgeting
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