Facts about Dialogue with citizens in Sweden

Some facts about Citizens Dialogue Project conducted by SALAR. The Citizens Dialogue Project is build on a dual platform of knowledge outreach projects and developmental projects.

Knowledge outreach Development

  • networks - working network
  • conferences - surveys
  • publications, fact sheets - research
  • education - workshops

The fundamental premise is that the development of citizens participation and engagement has become an increasingly important issue to Local Authorities and County Councils, particularly in view of the challenges our democratic society is facing: declining membership in political parties, large disparities in voter turnouts, an increasing lack of faith in politicians and social exclusion in various forms. Meanwhile, the Swedish population is becoming better educated and studies show that “average Swedes” believe strongly in their ability to shape their own lives.

People are putting increasing demands on public services based on their personal needs. In counterbalance to this focus on the individual, surveys show that a large percentage of citizens are interested in discussing society and political issues. This constitutes a challenge for Local Authority and County Council politicians and civil servants.

The general experiences of citizens dialogue in Sweden can be describe as:

  • Everyone has tried some form of citizens dialogue, but people do not believe it has been particularly fruitful.
  • Experience is that the people whose voices are heard are those who already possess knowledge and ample resources.
  • Implemented citizens dialogue is rarely implemented as a component of Local Authority governance.
  • There is ambiguity regarding the roles of elected representatives and civil servants in citizens dialogue.
  • Citizens dialogue is often take place late in the decisions processes.

Together with the Local Authorities and region we want to develop the citizens dialogue as a natural part in governing the organisation’s operations.

Identifying the systems and structures needed to ensure that the opinions and knowledge of citizens are used to improve governance of Local Authority services, as well as the opportunities of elected representatives to adapt the organisation to the needs and values of the community and ensure efficient resource utilisation.

Publications

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