Participatory budgeting is a process by which people define the destination of public resources, usually part or all of the investment.
Ubiratan de Souza, former elected Workers’ Party in Porto Alegre, defines it as “a process of direct democracy, voluntary and universal, by which people can discuss and define the budget and public policy. The participatory budget combines direct and representative democracy.”
A variety of experiences:
In 1989, Porto Alegre, a city of one million inhabitants in the south of Brazil, is challenging a participatory budget between local government and population. In its wake, many other cities will be inspired to reproduce, adapt to local conditions, to dedicate it to a particular group of the population…
Hundreds of experiments now exist in all continents. Beyond common elements, each context is built to make his way. This results in a variety of modalities, each inspiring in its own way. For the people and social movements, participatory budgeting is synonymous with a new mode closer to the needs of citizens democracy, to understand and to decide at the local level. Instructional Video “Re-Inventing Democracy through Participatory Budgeting”
- Between all these experiences, there are several aspects permanent
- The existence of a political will, based on a logic of efficiency of public policy or social motivation or on a choice of democratization.
- Financial resources: a part (sometimes limited to a few percent) to the overall budget of the entity.
- Mobilization of the population, which can be done directly (everyone) and/or through organizations related themes, stakeholder groups or specific territories.
- Regular review (usually annual) operating rules with the presence of all stakeholders.
Each experiment is divided in the form of a sequence of moments, among which often include: the definition of criteria for allocating resources to the areas/groups, the emergence of applications or proposals of the population, the construction of prioritize all requests received, the choice between all the priorities, building da budget matrix, the budget vote by politicians.
Interview with Professor Yves Cabannes to better understand the issues and ways to make more participatory budgets in the world: Interview Y. Cabannes (FRE)
During Summit Africité 2012, many social movements and many local politicians have expressed interest in such an approach, although some perverse aspects were also singled out. To avoid these negative effects, it seemed clear that there were certain conditions to be implemented. The association ASSOAL in Cameroon is a major player in the development of this process in West Africa. The first agreements between South America and Africa were signed to strengthen the practices of each.
To go further:
- English : “72 Frequently Asked Questions about Participatory Budgeting” – UN-HABITAT
- French : “72 questions courantes sur le budget participatif” – UN-HABITAT
- Spanish : “72 respuestas a Preguntas Frecuentes sobre Presupuestos Participativos Municipales” – UN-HABITAT
- Periferia Association Internet page
- The websites with documents or videos.