The use and abuse of participatory governance by populist governments

Ágnes Bátory and Sara Svensson both from the Central European University Budapest co-authored a remarkable paper about public consultations. They analyzed Viktor Orbán’s national consultations in Hungary, these are probably the most wide-scale consultative exercises in contemporary Europe. Some of our readers might not know that the Orbán government repeatedly sent questionnaires to every household in the country in some 8 million copies.
The alleged purpose was to channel public preferences into the Orbán government’s decision-making on issues from unemployment to how migration should be handled by the EU. However there were important shortcomings, the weakness of procedural guarantees and bias in the framing of the questions marked out the consultations as a tool of political manipulation and propaganda tool rather than a genuine instrument for participation.
The authors inject a dose of healthy skepticism into the debate about consultations to show that there are circumstances in which public consultations will achieve anything but greater legitimacy and better policy-outcomes. They discuss the questionable assumptions in the participatory governance literature and examine a recent example of the misuse, and abuse of public input.
You may download and read the paper by clicking here.
Ágnes Bátory (left) and Sara Svensson

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Author: HungarianFreePress.com

Established in 2014, Hungarian Free Press is an English-language online newspaper offering informed opinion on current events in East/Central Europe. While we focus primarily on Hungarian political news, we also aim to explore broader regional trends, as well as diaspora-related issues. Our paper seeks to build on the longstanding tradition of free, democratic discourse in European coffee houses and aims to develop into a dynamic and energetic news source for inquisitive English readers interested in the political, cultural and economic pressures in Hungary, whilst offering succinct, pertinent information and insightful commentary on broader developments in this region. The Hungarian Free Press is a non-partisan news source, with all of our content (whether news pieces or op-eds) reflecting the following democratic values: - Social justice for all, and especially for those living on the margins of society; - Cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, and a respect for individual creativity and ingenuity; - A respect for minority rights, including those of ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious or sexual minorities; - Support for rigorous checks and balances within our political system; - Healthy, democratic public institutions where a plurality of backgrounds and views are accepted and encouraged and where party interests do not override public interest; The responsible and sustainable use of our natural resources in business practices, when implementing public policy and in all activity. A growing segment of Hungary’s media has either shied away from defending these core liberal democratic values in its reporting, or has come under the political influence of the Orbán government, which enjoys a supermajority in parliament, has declared the termination of liberal democracy as one of its primary objectives and exerts unprecedented control over the judiciary, the public service, cultural and educational institutions, as well as the press.