What is a participatory budget?

A participatory budget (PB) is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making in which citizens decide to allocate part of a municipal or public budget. The process allows citizens to identify, discuss and prioritize public spending projects and gives them the power to make real decisions about how the money is spent.

PB processes are generally designed to involve those who are excluded from traditional methods of public engagement, such as low-income residents, non-citizens and youth. A comprehensive case study of eight municipalities in Brazil, analyzing the successes and failures of participatory budgets, suggested that this often results in more equitable public spending, greater transparency and accountability of government, increased public participation (Especially by marginalized or poorest residents).

Votebox allows citizens to deliberate in order to create either a concrete financial plan (a budget) or a recommendation to the elected representatives on the basis of questions put to them.

Organize a participatory budget

The process involves several steps:

  • Community members identify spending priorities and choose budget delegates.
  • Budget delegates develop specific spending proposals, with the assistance of experts.
  • Members of the community vote on funding proposals.
  • The city or institution implements the best proposals.

Some examples of participatory budgets

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