The financial and economic crisis, of which we have heard so much discussion since 2007-8, is only one aspect of a whole series of underlying political trends which have been apparent for much longer: a crisis of (in)equality and of increased precarity of the workforce, a human rights crisis, a demographic crisis, an ecological crisis, a crisis in civil liberties, and above all a crisis in democracy.
In 2012, the City of Canada Bay Council proposed an innovative method of deliberative democracy to obtain the advice of citizens in making decisions for the range and quality of council services for the period 2014-18. With this in mind, the Canada Bay Council partnered with groups such as Straight Talk and newDemocracy to create a panel of 36 randomly citizens. This group worked in parallel to a randomly selected group of council staff.
Faced with low levels of citizen interest in community affairs, the Municipality of Reggio Emilio decided to experiment with participatory budgeting in District 8. Exactly 256 citizens took part in the process, which took place between September 2007 and February 2008. 17 of the 123 proposals made in meetings with citizens were included in the 2008 budget. These were related to the community's quality of life. Participants felt satisfied with the process, and there is hope that future initiatives will be even more successful.
‘Leefbaarheidsbudget’ is the name of a participatory process, launched by the municipality of Utrecht in 1987. Literally translated, it would mean ‘budget of livability’, being ‘livability’ defined by the municipality of Utrecht, as ‘the quality of the residential and living environment’. By ‘residential and living environment’ the municipality understands the following: