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Participatory Budgeting in Germany: Citizens as Consultants

This chapter examines the current landscape of participatory budgets in Germany, which currently includes just under 100 local authorities that are actively involved in participatory budgeting (PB). Based on the history of PB in Germany, it shows how German participatory budgets typically pursue the objective of making local government more responsive, which is the reason why most participatory budgets in Germany are based on the consultative model. Under this model, citizens act as advisors to policymakers and administrators. Based on data collected in the autumn of 2012 for the sixth status report of the information portal www.buergerhaushalt.org, the chapter identifies ‘typical’ features that characterize German participatory budgets. According to this analysis, the majority of participatory budgets in Germany is consultative; allow proposals on the entire budget – including proposals both for investments and for cost-saving measures, and make intensive use of the Internet. There is great room for improvement with regard to accountability, for which a general report has so far been the norm.