Category:Participatory Budgeting

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Definition

Participatory budgeting (PB) is process of democratic deliberation and a way of involving citizens in issues that concern the use of public money. The population is actively incorporated in the planning of public expenditure and revenues. PB allows citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects. Sometimes it also gives them the power to make real decisions about how money is spent.

Details

The core phases of any PB process are (see also www.buergerhaushalt.org and the Wikipedia entry for more details and the history of PB):

  1. Information: Through public information people are made aware of the budgeting issue and mobilised for PB.
  2. Participation: Citizens can contribute their own ideas and priorities, either by submitting their proposals to policymakers and administrators, or by directly deciding on a specific budget. The key element of this phase is public discourse, which can take place e.g. at public meetings or by online means.
  3. Accountability: The organizers of the process provide information on the outcome of the participation phase. They communicate and explain why particular ideas submitted by citizens were implemented, and why others were not.

Most broadly, all participatory budgeting processes allow citizens to deliberate with the goal of creating either a concrete financial plan or a recommendation to elected representatives. PB processes are typically designed to involve those not entering traditional methods of public engagement, for example low-income residents, non-citizens, and younger citizens.

Participatory Budgeting in Germany

More and more local authorities make use of participatory processes for their municipal budget. A survey of all online participation processes introduced by the municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia, inculding PB, can be found here. So far there has been no PB at the federal or state level in Germany.

In Germany, PB is typically consultative, i.e. citizens submit proposals and make comments. Administrators take these proposals and comments into account when drafting the budget. The local council finally decides on these proposals.