The World Bank and the Globalization of Participatory Budgeting
This article addresses the long-standing controversy over the World Bank’s role in the promotion of participatory budgeting (PB). Some on the left have celebrated the Bank’s funding and advocacy for PB as signifying the legitimacy or mainstream success of the process, while others see the Bank’s endorsement of PB as a sign that participatory budgeting is becoming watered down and losing its transformative potential, if it ever had such potential. This debate has mostly been an ideological one, and little research has been done to provide evidence to either side. The article is the first to address what the Bank is doing to promote PB and why. It makes six main points. First, the originators of participatory budgeting, the Workers’ Party in Brazil, is not promoting it as strongly as it used to. Second, the World Bank has become the most active promoter of PB (perhaps alongside the United Nations Development Program). Third, within the Bank, some promote PB as part of its fairly standard pro-market agenda, while others share many of the same goals as PB’s originators. Fourth, though the Bank has become very important for the diffusion of PB, overall PB remains marginal within the Bank. Fifth, the Bank has little influence over the eventual outcomes of PB in different countries because it has little or no control over many of the factors that affect PB in practice. And sixth, because PB’s effects have strong potential to be positive, the Bank’s role in promoting PB should be encouraged.
What Would Real Democracy Look Like?
Rather than aiming for yet another change of politicians and parties in power, why not aim for a change of the political system itself? As representative democracy sinks into crisis, we need to go back to democracy in its original meaning as rule of the people. It is time to imagine what real democracy would look like and to create institutions and mechanisms that could be the building blocks of genuinely democratic societies.
What Explains the Success of Participatory Budgeting? Evidence from Seoul Autonomous Districts
In this study, we examine the association between the success of participatory budgeting and a number of variables that characterizes the participatory process in light of the participatory budgeting recently adopted by autonomous districts in Seoul. Specifically, we consider three variables (the number, attendance rate, and level of expertise of the participatory budgeting committee members), and examine the association between these three variables and the success of the participatory process, as measured by the amount of budget included in the official budget of the district. We find that only the level of expertise of the committee members has a significantly positive association with the measured level of success of the participation.
Transparency and Participation in Public Financial Management: What Do Budget Laws Say?
An increasing number of governments, as well as international and civil society organizations, are promoting the public disclosure of budgetary information and calling for greater citizen participation in budget processes. Fiscal transparency is increasingly seen as an important precondition for effective governance, improved economic performance, and prudent fiscal policy, resulting in lower deficits and debt accumulation. In addition to generating economic benefits, fiscal transparency also functions as a political expression of democratic governance, giving citizens and taxpayers information that they are entitled to — and that they can use to hold their governments accountable.
Transnational Models of Citizen Participation: The Case of Participatory Budgeting
This article pursues two main objectives. First, it provides a transnational overview and analysis of participatory budgeting, which has been central to the literature on democratic innovations in citizen participation. Second, it combines this broad empirical project with a theoretical approach based on the construction of ideal-types in the Weberian tradition. Namely, it presents six models of citizen participation: participatory democracy, proximity democracy, participative modernization, multi-stakeholder participation, neo-corporatism, and community development. Although these models have evolved from participatory budgeting and the European context, it is our contention that they can help us to understand the socio-political and ideological dynamics, contexts and impacts of civic engagement and democracy today at the transnational scale.
Transformative Deliberations: Participatory Budgeting in the United States
This article develops two conceptual models, based on empirical data, for assessing deliberation and decision making within United States adoptions of Participatory Budgeting (PB). The first model is results oriented whereas the second model is process oriented. The two models evince the tension between inclusiveness and efficiency that emerge as U.S. PB tries accommodating the dual goals of improved short- term service delivery and democratic deepening. Each model satisfies one of these deliberate goals better. Results oriented deliberation is more effective at producing viable projects whereas process oriented is better at ensuring that all participants’ voices are heard. Variation suggests that decision-making in PBNYC exceeds citizens’ ability to make collective decisions with rational discourse. Rather, the structural conditions of district constitution, bureaucratic constraints, and facilitator skill impacted decision-making.
The Power of Ambiguity: How Participatory Budgeting Travels the Globe
From its inception in Brazil in the late 1980s, Participatory Budgeting has now been instituted in over 1500 cities worldwide. This paper discusses what actually travels under the name of Participatory Budgeting. We rely on science studies for a fundamental insight: it is not enough to simply speak of “diffusion” while forgetting the way that the circulation and translation of an idea fundamentally transform it (Latour 1987). In this case, the travel itself has made PB into an attractive and politically malleable device by reducing and simplifying it to a set of procedures for the democratization of demand-making. The relationship of those procedures to the administrative machinery is ambiguous, but fundamentally important for the eventual impact of Participatory Budgeting in any one context.
The Effects of Participatory Budgeting on Municipal Expenditures and Infant Mortality in Brazil
This paper investigates whether the use of participatory budgeting in Brazilian municipalities during 1990–2004 affected the pattern of municipal expenditures and had any impact on living conditions. It shows that municipalities using participatory budget- ing favored an allocation of public expenditures that closely matched popular preferences and channeled a larger fraction of their bud- gets to investments in sanitation and health services. This change is accompanied by a reduction in infant mortality rates. This suggests that promoting a more direct interaction between service users and elected officials in budgetary policy can affect both how local re- sources are spent and living standard outcomes.
The Diffusion of Brazil’s Participatory Budgeting: Should “Best Practices” be Promoted?
The “third wave” of democratization has been accompanied by the spread of new institutions that allow citizens to deliberate and decide policy outcomes. Leading international organizations, such as the World Bank and the United Nations, have disseminated “best practice” programs identified with “good government” policy reform efforts. One of the most well-known programs, Participatory Budgeting (PB), was first adopted by Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) in 1989 as a means to promote social justice, accountability, and transparency. There has been widespread adoption of PB in Brazil, led by the PT. Yet, by 2001, nearly half of PB programs had been adopted by non-PT governments. What explains why municipal governments in Brazil, especially non-PT governments, would adopt PB programs? This article estimates the probability that a municipality would adopt PB using logistic regression analysis to test a model that included electoral, economic, regional, and policy network variables. This article concludes by briefly analyzing whether governments that adopt PB are able to produce policy outcomes similar to the initial results that inspired the “best practice” label. This introduces the question: When should best practice programs be promoted for possible adoption?
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