Participatory Budgeting in Europe: Potentials and Challenges


The ‘transfer’ of participatory budgeting from Brazil to Europe has been a highly differentiated process. In Porto Alegre, this innovative methodology enabled democratization and social justice to be articulated. In Europe, participatory budgeting relies on multiple procedures, and it is therefore necessary to give a clear methodological definition of it so that cases can be coherently compared and ideal‐types constructed to understand the variety of concrete experiments. The six ideal‐types we propose (Porto Alegre adapted for Europe; representation of organized interests; community funds at the local and city level; the public/private negotiating table; consultation on public finances; proximity participation) show striking differences that are highly influenced by existing participatory traditions. It is, above all, with the models Porto Alegre adapted for Europe and community funds that an ‘empowered participatory governance’ can develop and that a fourth power, beyond the three classical ones, is developing — that of the citizenry when it directly (or through delegates) assumes a decision‐making power. However, other models have their strengths, too, for example with regard to the reform of public administration which is a critical aspect in the search for ‘another possible world’.