The city of Brașov

Brașov is a medium-sized city located in the heart of Romania, with a population of approximately 290,000 residents. The city is known for its rich history, being one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe.

Brașov boasts a diverse culture influenced by numerous ethnic communities and its centuries-old traditions. Additionally, the city is a significant tourist hub, attracting visitors from all over the world with its spectacular mountain landscapes and historic landmarks, such as the Black Church and Catherine's Gate.

Participatory process

Since 2022 Brașov has been using the Consul platform to implement a Participatory Budgeting process. The platform allows citizens to propose, discuss, and vote on various community projects. The process begins with a proposal phase where residents can submit their ideas for city improvements. These proposals are then reviewed for feasibility and cost-effectiveness by a special city administration committee, initiated as part of the PB project. Once approved by the committee, the ideas are published on the Consul platform for public voting.

Andriesei Alexandru, representing the Community Relations and Innovation Department of the municipality of Brașov, explains that the main themes addressed through the PB processes are urban development, environmental protection, and infrastructure enhancement. The target audience encompasses all city residents, with particular emphasis on engaging youth and residents from peripheral districts. By using Consul Democracy, Andriesei says, "we aim to reach a broad demographic and ensure that all geographic areas of Brașov are represented".

Why use Consul Democracy?

"The municipality of Brașov initiated citizen participation processes to enhance transparency, increase public trust, and foster civic engagement," accoding to Andriesei. "By directly involving citizens in decision-making, we aim to build a more open and responsive administration that reflects the community's needs and aspirations."

Brașov breaks its goals down into three main targets: boosting public trust in municipal institutions, encouraging residents to take an active role in governance, and improving decision-making by incorporating diverse perspectives.

Obstacles and risks

Obviously, this is very much an ideal outcome and achieving it in practice comes with its share of obstacles.

The primary challenge in Brașov so far has been encouraging citizens to engage with the platform and create accounts. Additionally, there were difficulties in integrating the platform with the existing legal framework and municipal procedures.

Also, there are some risks associated with implementing digital participation processes. Risks that Andreisei is aware of. He says: "One of the main shortcomings of citizen participation and digital democracy is the risk of marginalizing certain groups that do not have adequate access or digital skills."

Dealing with this issue is a recurring challenge at any government using the Consul Democrayc platform. It might be addressed by organizing training sessions to familiarize citizens with using digital platforms. And often, maintaining traditional communication channels proves to be essential to ensure the inclusion of all citizens, regardless of their level of digital competence.

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