Participatory Budgeting at the Local Level: Challenges and Opportunities for New Democracies

Jelizaveta Krenjova and Ringa Raudla. 2013. “Participatory Budgeting at the Local Level: Challenges and Opportunities for New Democracies.” Halduskultuur – Administrative Culture 14 (1), 18-46.



The main goals of this paper are to examine the existing models of participatory budgeting (PB), to match the various models to different constellations of contextual variables and to investigate the applicability of PB in the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). First, the article gives an overview of the different (Western) European PB models put forth in the existing literature (Porto Alegre adapted for Europe, proximity participation, consultation on public finance, multistakeholder participation, and community participatory budgeting) and outlines the main environmental variables (financial autonomy, political culture, the size, heterogeneity and prosperity of the local government (LG) units) that are likely to influence the applicability and feasibility of PB in different LGs. As a second step, the paper analyses the links between different PB models and the environmental variables: it examines under which conditions each of the PB models would be applicable and advisable. As a third step, the article discusses the applicability of different PB models in the new democracies in the CEE region. As the analysis shows, limited financial autonomy of the local governments and the prevailing political culture (combined with weak civil society) are likely to constitute the main challenges to implementing PB in CEE countries, especially if the implementation of the Porto Alegre model is considered. At the same time, PB could be used to encourage the development of participatory culture in the region and to foster genuine decentralisation. 

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