Rolf Luehrs has just published an update on some of the more than 115 participatory budgeting processes in Germany. As he notes, the experiences differ in three main ways:
While participatory budgeting was originally designed as an instrument of direct democracy with a binding decision of the citizenry, most of the European PBs are implemented as consultations: The citizens were given opportunity to have their say but it is up to the elected representatives to finally decide about the proposals.
In many cases only selected parts of the public budget are under consideration in others the entire budget is subject to citizen participation. Interestingly the scope seems to depend on the chosen approach: When the entire budget is under consideration, the opinions and preferences of the citizens usually are not binding.
Instruments & Channels
Some of the participatory budgeting projects are still implemented using only traditional communication channels. In most cases the Internet is leastwise used to spread information. Quiet a lot of municipalities or cities are providing interactive channels on the Internet to support the offline activities. And in a few cases the Internet is the only channel for the citizens to participate.
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