If not Participatory Budgeting, then what?



citizen participation, participatory budgeting, context-based problems with participatory budgeting, leading participatory tools




Participatory budgeting (PB) is a tool that has made its way to success worldwide. It adapted well in different contexts and planning cultures. Native to South America, for over two decades now, it has been implemented in European towns and cities. Due to its flexibility and simple concept, PB is relatively easy to introduce regardless of the scale and existing participatory infrastructure. Also, its formula promotes the agency of citizens and local communities in addressing their actual needs.

However successful, PB’s implementation is not resistant to specific threats, such as (1) bureaucracy or formalisation, (2) tokenism, and (3) media malaise. These can disturb the process, cause exclusion, and influence the outcomes in an unwanted way.

In this research, built partially upon Horizon project DEMOTEC, participatory budgeting is examined for conditions threatening its effectiveness. It entails cases from 7 European countries (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Poland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Ireland) and consists of studies on (1) the general context of public engagement, (2) the implementation and popularity of participatory budgeting, as well as (3) the main weaknesses of the process.

The purpose is to open a discussion on how vulnerable PB is to today's threats and whether there is an alternative.


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