Participatory Municipal Budgeting: A democratic experiment

Participatory budgeting (PB) as a form of participatory democracy, the experience and the conclusions from its implementation in municipalities or communities of Greece and Europe, is the subject of the new collaboration of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Greece and Dock – Social Solidarity Economy Zone, along with Commonspace – Employees’ Cooperative. Ιmplemented plans, experiences, results and conclusions, special methodologies and strategies, will be gathered and evaluated in a study in order to create valuable knowledge and utilize the rich existing experiences not only from abroad but also from Greece.

Description

The purpose of the project goes beyond data collection: the ambition is to study and document the applied PB practices to provide knowledge for reflection and further application in the areas of decision-making process, direct democracy and redistribution of resources. Thus, the result of this study will be equivalent to an additional possibility: a practical support in form of a policy brief, addressed to the elected representatives of the Local Government and the public servants regarding the implementation of the municipal participatory budgeting. At the same time, it will be both, methodology and tool for every collective, grassroots group and citizens’ initiative that wants to promote practices of direct and participatory process at local level, that wants to support a new culture in engaging with the public affairs.

Furthermore, the high value of PB as one of the very few examples of institutionalized participatory democracy is emerging today, perhaps more than ever. Today, at a time when traditional forms of representation are weakening, polarization is widening and inequalities are growing, participatory budgeting process can contribute in promoting the dialogue, mobilize and deepen citizens’ relations, reclaim the meaning of public space and the “commonwealth” and why not to finally support a renewed identity of the “citizen”. Through the not only symbolic redistribution of resources, PB can pave new avenues for tackling economic and social inequality. It is this material dimension that classifies PB in the context and implementation of the social solidarity economy in public policies. Therefore, within the framework of the project, the exchange of experiences, know-how and practices will be orientated both to enhance the public discourse and upgrade the available tools, as well as to highlight the political utility that PB can have in the mid and long term.

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