Scherer & Wimmer (2012) - Reference Process Model for Participatory Budgeting in Germany

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Scherer, Sabrina; Wimmer, Maria A. (2012): Reference Process Model for Participatory Budgeting in Germany. In: Macintosh, Ann; Tambouris, Efthimios; Sæbø, Øystein: Electronic Participation (IFIP ePart 2012). Springer Berlin / Heidelberg. Nr. 7444. S. 97-111.


The article presents a suggestion how to ideally structure a participatory budget procedure – on the one hand by deriving from theoretical thoughts in the literature and empirical examples, and on the other hand by comparing the process to conventional budgeting. The article therefore can be regarded as a blueprint for best practice in participatory budgeting.


After discussing the legal aspects of budgeting in cities and municipalities the article gives insights to the principal logic, procedures and aims of participatory budgeting. These aims are described as:

  1. Acceptance (of local decisions by the citizens)
  2. Accountability (of the local and regional governments)
  3. Efficiency (by supporting the local administration)
  4. Decision support (for politicians by the citizens)
  5. Transparency (of the budget and decisions)
  6. Democratization (by reducing disenchantment with politics)
  7. Solidarity (of the citizens among each other)

The phases of the actual process are described as:

  1. Initiation and Design (formulation of objectives and a budget draft)
  2. Preparation (Selection of procedures and technical tools)
  3. Implementation (of the technical instruments, preparation of documents, and marketing strategy)
  4. Realization (differentiated into the four sub-categories of)
    1. Information (for the citizens about the project in principal and in detail)
    2. Participation (of the citizens)
    3. Decision-making (debating the proposals)
    4. Accountability (given by the city or municipal council)
  5. Evaluation (against the objectives, and to improve following iterations of the procedure)

Each of the phases and how they are interconnected are discussed in detail; the process-structure of (ideal) participatory budgeting (compared to “traditional” budgeting as well) is displayed in Fig. 1 (p. 9) and 2 (p. 11).


The authors conclude: “The reference process models developed serve as blueprint for local governments to understand the implications of setting up participatory budgeting in their local environments. So far, it has been difficult for local governments to get such understanding without the efforts of external consultancy.” (p. 13)