Katılımcı Bütçeleme: Eleştirel Bir YaklaşımMüge Yetkin Ataer
Bu çalışmada katılımcı bütçeleme, tanımı ve genel özellikleri verildikten sonra teorik çerçevede faydaları ve eleştirileri de içerecek şekilde incelenmiştir. Ardından dünyadan farklı uygulamalar ve Türkiye’nin katılımcı bütçeleme bakımından geldiği nokta ortaya koyularak ölçek sorunu ile temsili ve doğrudan demokrasi bağlamlarının altı çizilmiştir. Çalışmanın amacı doğrultusunda, sonuç bölümünde iki konu öne çıkarılmıştır. Bu konulardan ilki zaten temsili demokrasi ile belirlenen yerel yönetimlerde, ölçek ve zaman sorunları nedeniyle bireysel katılımdan politik katılıma dönüşüm ihtimali ile ilgilidir. İkinci olarak doğrudan katılım, teknolojinin imkânlarından faydalanarak sağlansa bile gerçekten dezavantajlı durumda olan, dışlanmış ve çok düşük gelirli toplumsal grupların bu süreçlerden daha da zarar görmeleri riski gündeme getirilmektedir. Tartışma ile birlikte belirli politika önerileri de geliştirilmeye çalışılmıştır.
Participatory Budgeting: A Critical ApproachMüge Yetkin Ataer
This study examines participatory budgeting practices by also covering benefits and critiques in the theoretical framework after providing definitions and general features. Subsequently, different applications from all over the world as well as the stage in which Turkey currently stands in terms of participatory budgeting have been put forward, with the context of direct-representative democracy being underlined alongside the problem of scope. Two different issues have been highlighted in line with the aim of this study. The first issue is related to the possibility that the process may evolve into political participation rather than individual participation in local administrations that are already chosen through representative democracy practices. The second issue is the risk of further harming those with the lowest incomes and marginalized/disadvantaged groups as a result of the efforts aimed at ensuring individual participation using the benefits of technological advancements. Particular policy recommendations have also been offered in the discussion on these issues.
This study examines participatory budgeting practices by covering the benefits and critiques in the theoretical framework. General definitions and characteristics are also provided. Subsequently, different applications from all over the world have been investigated in the context of direct–representative democracy. The restrictions of scope and time were underlined, with the stage in which Turkey currently stands in terms of participatory budgeting being provided. This paper highlights two different issues as its motivation. The first issue is related to the possibility that the process may evolve into political participation rather than individual participation in local administrations that have already been chosen using representative democracy practices because of scope and time restrictions. The second issue involves the risk of further harming groups such as those with the lowest income, who are marginalized, or who are disadvantaged through the efforts aimed at ensuring individual participation using the benefits of technological advancements. Particular policy recommendations are offered when discussing these issues.
The first issue of discussion involves this paper questioning whether attaching importance to citizen participation is necessary or realistic, because incumbents are already aware that they have been chosen by representative democratic processes. They feel the support of their voters and may be reluctant to create further participatory mechanisms. If they do not fulfill their commitments to their programs, they receive no sanctions other than the possible change in the next elections. Despite reluctant incumbents, citizens in modern times are supposed to take roles in the processes of planning, executing, monitoring, and auditing. A distinction needs to be made at this point between political participation and individual participation. Strong individual participation should occur more than political participation in order to properly direct democratic practices. This is mostly possible in regard to small-scale local administrations due to time and scale/scope restrictions. Some problems appear when the scope of the population increases. As a result of physical and time constraints, another representative democracy mechanism usually gets set up in the representative democracy. Neighborhoods have to choose a representative, and non-governmental organizations send their spokesperson to the meetings. In this way, after a particular stage, the project and program-based negotiations are at risk of transforming into political debates. Because the incumbents and local administrators are generally members of a political party, once opposition against a project or program the administration supports occurs, those opposition groups may start to be labeled as representatives of the opposition parties. For this reason, individual participation should be strengthened to avoid these types of vicious circles, and the disadvantaged and less-represented social groups should become involved and prioritized in order to gain some concrete results. Undoubtedly, the representatives of non-governmental organizations, foundations, associations, and social movements cannot be excluded from the processes; however, the strongest position should always be appointed to individual participants to ensure that the decisions that are made are transparently dedicated to the projects and programs in order to promote social justice and the economic welfare of the society.
The second issue discussed in the paper is the side effect of using technology. Examples are found of online participation where suggestions are collected and project options are provided to the citizens. In such cases, those with no Internet connection, senior citizens, and much less represented disadvantaged social groups get excluded from the election and decision-making processes. Online practices may be seen as a necessity, especially in large cities, but their caveats may invisibly affect inequality in income distribution and in the distribution of public resources.
As seen in Latin America and other developing countries, participatory budgeting practices are important in terms of bringing social justice to the front line, giving importance to the less represented disadvantaged social groups, and increasing the living standards of the lowest income groups. However, a gradual approach occurs in these applications. The least represented and lowest income groups should be involved more directly in the decision-making processes in order to determine their actual needs and to increase their living standards.