Participatory democracy must bridge a gap between ideals and realities and is a sophisticated process. The analysis of case studies in Croatia shows that different types of participation are required, for each group of stakeholders and, at different stages of a participatory
process (e.g., preparation, adoption, and implementation of a given programme) to minimise the risk of undue influence. Participation is more than the mere opening of a workshop to the public. It means rigorous, triangulated,
multifaceted, methodology including interviews, surveys, focus groups, and continuous dialogue and reflection at each stage. Overall, effective participation requires the understanding of power as a set of complex social, political and economic relations.
Without this, participatory development programmes can reinforce the status quo and reward the most articulate groups and the already developed and highly skilled municipalities.