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Democratic Audit of Poland 2014

Series:

Radosław Markowski, Michał Kotnarowski, Michał Wenzel and Marta Żerkowska-Balas

The book is a study of the state of the Polish democracy and focuses on the years 2012 and 2013. It explores available documents and statistical data, offers a collection of experts' judgments, and analyses public opinion research. Ten domains of democracy are covered, some of them as fundamental as the rule of law, the political community or public administration. The study evaluates contemporary Polish democracy as consolidated and assesses it as reasonably effective, although a number of clear shortcomings call for improvements.
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9. Public responsibility and accountability of politicians

Extract

A key feature of democracy is accountability of politicians before citizens and the possibility to hold them responsible for their actions. Moreover, politicians operating within one type of institution should be subject to control of a different type, similarly to the way the executive should be controlled by the parliament. The first point of our analyses in this chapter concerns this type of dependency, i.e. controlling and holding the executive accountable by the parliament.

In the next section we discuss monitoring of public expenditures. Every year Poland spends hundreds of billions of Polish zlotys; in 2012 public expenditure totalled 680 billion PLN (Forum Obywatelskiego Rozwoju [Civil Development Forum] 2013). A significant part of those resources is spent on retirement and disability pensions, and related allowances. Expenditure on administrative management, education and higher education, roads, the armed forces, and the police cover the significant part of the remainder. Spending such large sums of money coming from taxpayers’ pockets ought to be subject to citizen control.

Access of citizens to public information is necessary in order to be able to hold politicians accountable for their activities. This issue is touched upon in the last section of this chapter. Access to public information requires, first of all, appropriate legal regulations. Actual possibility to access public information is also discussed.

The data used in this chapter come from our own expert survey, reports by other organizations, and analyses of the content of existing legislature.

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