How to promote and vote in citizen inquiries?

Citizen initiatives are a means citizens have of getting the City Council to carry out specific action

Public consultations are used for determining the general public's decisions concerning important city matters, by means of a direct, free, equitable and secret vote, cast either in person or online.

It may be a single or multiple consultation, and there may be up to three public consultations a year, with no limit on the number of questions.  The Mayor may agree to holding all the consultations within a specific period of the year, in order to ask the general public their opinion on a variety of questions at one specific time.

When the consultation is convened, the municipal groups must make their position on the result of that consultation public. In other words, the results are not binding by default, but the municipal groups may say if they will be applied and in what way.

The consultations include the opening of discussion and exchange forums for a minimum of 30 days before the consultation, in order to hold a public debate on the subject under consultation.

Who can promote it?

The City Council can call a public consultation at the request of the municipal government or the other municipal groups, provided that it is approved by two fifths of the Full Meeting.

It can also be promoted by the general public, by means of a citizen initiative.

How can it be promoted?

The general public can promote consultations by means of a citizen initiative. The number of signatures required depends on the territorial area concerned.

For a consultation affecting the entire city, a minimum of 15,000 signatures are required, in order to prove the need for that consultation.

Where the consultation concerns one district in particular, the number may vary in accordance with its population:

For district initiatives:

  • Ciutat Vella2500
  • Eixample: 6500
  • Sants Montjuïc: 4500
  • Les Corts: 2000
  • Sarrià-Sant Gervasi: 3500
  • Gràcia: 3000
  • Horta-Guinardó: 4000
  • Nou Barris: 4000
  • Sant Andreu: 3500
  • Sant Martí: 5700

If the consultation affects more than one district, the number of signatures required is the sum of each district indicated in the previous section, reduced by the following percentage.

  • For two districts, 10% less
  • For three districts, 15% less
  • For four districts, 20% less
  • For five districts, 30% less
  • For six districts, 40% less
  • For seven districts, 45% less
  • For eight districts, 50% less
  • For nine districts, 55% less
  • For ten districts, 60% less

​Who can give their opinion?

Anyone who is a registered City of Barcelona resident over the age of 16 can take part in the consultations.

What issues can be subjected to a consultation?

Public consultations can be held on subjects referring to the city as a whole or ones that only affect one or more districts.

In exceptional cases there may be neighbourhood consultations, where there has been a prior participatory process and when it is underwritten by a qualitative majority of the Full Meetings of the District and City Councils.

A subject is considered to be a city-wide question when the budget needed to carry out the action is over 5% of the annual municipal budget.

Under no circumstances will a consultation be called for questions that:

  • May limit or restrict fundamental rights or freedoms.
  • That affect questions related to public taxes or charges, or budgets that have already been approved.
  • When the call for initiating a public tender procedure has already been published, or where this has already been carried out and its stoppage would cause losses to third parties.
  • Where there are administrative procedures under way for approving a by-law, a regulation or an urban-planning instrument.

Where the matter to be subjected to public consultation involves a cost above 3% of the annual budget, the City Council can refuse to process the application, or if it is accepted, require the Promoting Committee to provide information concerning what conditions will be placed on its execution if it obtains a majority of affirmative votes.

When can consultations be carried out?

A maximum of three public consultations can be held every year, with no limit on the number of questions in each one, except where the Mayor determines a specific time of year for holding them all.

There are some specific periods in which public consultations may not be held, such as the Christmas and Easter school holidays, along with the months of July and August.

Furthermore, public consultations may not be promoted or held in the six-month period before local elections, nor in the period between those elections and the moment when the City Council is constituted.

For two years after a consultation, no new public consultation may be called concerning the same or substantially similar content.

Period of public debate

Prior to the celebration of a consultation, there must be a period of public debate lasting one or two months.

During this time, channels for debate, information and communication must be enabled, so that the general public can find out about the consultation's subject matter and freely express their various opinions and perspectives.

The City Council must also enable municipal public venues that allow municipal groups and interested organisations to carry out any debates they see fit, and to guarantee the general public's access to all the information available to the administration that is relevant to an understanding of the consultation's subject matter.

During the public debate period, the municipal communication media must respect the principles of social and political pluralism, neutrality and equal opportunities regarding the various positions defended during the consultation.

Any organisations registered in the General Public Organisations File, who wish to do so, may ask to be considered as interested organisations during the consultation process. Interested organisations have the right to free public spaces facilitated by the City Council so they can post information concerning the consultation. They also have the right to free venues for holding campaign events and debates.

Monitoring committee

The consultation's Monitoring Committee is the body responsible for monitoring public consultations and ensuring that they are carried out according to the law, with the aim of guaranteeing transparency and efficiency during the consultation process.

Its functions include issuing reports on incidents, requests or discrepancies that occur during the various phases of the consultation process, as well as being responsible for counting the votes and recording the minutes of the consultation results.

The consultation Monitoring Committee consists of a minimum of three and a maximum of fifteen people, with one third of them proposed by the Municipal Council and the remainder proposed by the general public.

Municipal personnel may attend the committee with a voice, but without a vote, in order to provide support or advice.

The City Council must provide the necessary technical and administrative support so that the Monitoring Committee may carry out its functions efficiently.


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