Research into this domain shows how legislation and institutional environment support and facilitate citizen participation. It includes two indicators – the legislation which regulates the different levels of citizen participation (information, consultations and dialogue) on one hand and on the other – the existence of institutions, networks and media that create participation prerequisites.
The main conclusions resulting form 2015 survey are that the legislation in Bulgaria provides the basis for various forms of citizen participation, but with the exception of access to information, which is regulated in detail, other forms (consultations, referenda, citizen initiatives and other instruments for dialogue between citizens and institutions) are not properly regulated.
The institutional environment has a lower score than the legislature, which leads to the conclusion that the regulatory framework is not explicit enough and allows for the negative formalization of the participation process.
This index domain aims to explore the level of citizen participation practices and how active citizens themselves are.
The main conclusions are that the nature and mechanisms of various forms of civic participation are not widely known, with the exception of "online" types. The lack of tradition and formal civic education makes referendums and general meetings an unfamiliar form of participation which, however, is gaining more and more strength; the same goes for public consultation that are beginning to attract the interest of active citizens and organizations.
The civic activity has been increased in recent years. The established "minority of active citizens" who, by their actions, made a breakthrough in the system by demonstrating that “one has to participate, one must protest and express one's position”, is widely appreciated as a positive trend. One aspect that seems to hinder civic involvement and motivation is the fact that, on the one hand, citizens do not know how to participate, and on the other hand, the administration operates on the principle of "perpetual forwarding" up the chain, or takes no action at all.
Within this domain, we explored the result of initiatives taken and whether this led to a change in the environment (legal, social, and institutional).
The perception that citizen participation is weak and insufficient seems to prevail among respondents. At the same time, trends have been reported towards an increase in the number of initiatives and actions of civil society organizations and informal groups, as well as examples of concrete results: a change in policies, resolving specific cases, withdrawal of draft legislation.
The conclusion is that the environment has really changed and there should be greater citizen participation in the areas involving the distribution of major financial resources. Otherwise we would end up with mimicry of citizen participation and it could be reduced to the very appropriate metaphor given by one of the experts as part of the discussions: it could become just a "brooch" (ornament) that government will wear on its lapel, without leading to any change.