Participatory Budgeting in Paris, France

First Submitted By hmadenian

Most Recent Changes By Scott Fletcher

General Issues
Planning & Development
Specific Topics
Budget - Local
Civic Infrastructure
Participatory Budgeting
Democratic Innovation
Formal/Structured Participation
Start Date
Time Limited or Repeated?
Repeated over time
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Spectrum of Public Participation
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Open to All
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Informal Social Activities
Express Opinions/Preferences Only
Information & Learning Resources
Written Briefing Materials
Participant Presentations
Decision Methods
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Hearings/Meetings
New Media
Public Report
Type of Organizer/Manager
Local Government
Community Based Organization
Non-Governmental Organization
La mairie de Paris, La mairie d’arrondissement
Type of Funder
Local Government
Regional Government
Evidence of Impact
Implementers of Change
Lay Public
Elected Public Officials
Appointed Public Servants

The participatory budget in Paris is the largest ever implemented in the world. This case is notable for its scale and scope, for its reliance on digital technology, and the sociopolitical context: a city which has historically given little room for citizen participation.

Problems and Purpose

Recent decades have seen France undergo similar trends of democratic decline seen across the Western world: decreasing voter turnout, electoral volatility, political polarization, and sustained voting against incumbent governments. Disaffection with existing institutions of democracy, growing disenchantment by the ‘masses’ with the ‘elites’ that represent them, and a distrust in state officials’ ability or desire to deliver on promises have led to some characterizing this period as a democratic ‘crisis’.[i] In response, officials at all levels of government have put a renewed focus on citizen participation, attempting to rebuild public trust by increasing the role citizens have in governance and political decision-making.[ii] New forms of democracy seen elsewhere in the world have made their way to France such as Participatory Budgeting which was adopted in Paris by the then newly elected mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Background History and Context

Generally speaking, French political culture a product of its long history of top-down, centralized institutional design, a distrust of the ‘political elite’, and a strong tendency toward polarization and disagreement.[iii] Shaped also by Durkheim republicanism, citizens are often thought to lack the skills, experience, and information necessary to make political decisions.[iv] As a consequence, the country has been slow to develop a more robust understanding or institutional framework of democratic participation. By the 1990s, France few opportunities for active participation in decision-making outside elections. However, around the same time, France's 'limited' or 'thin' democracy was under increasing critique, especially at the local level. In the intervening decades, successive administrations have taken measures to strengthen democracy often by increasing citizen participation at the local level.[v] 

One of the most significant advances toward a more participatory form of democracy came in 2002 with the passing of the Law on Local Democracy (“Loi relative a la démocratie de proximité”). Through this legislation, citizens were granted the right to petition, and mechanisms were created for all levels of government to create referenda and hold public consultations.[vi] As well, every municipality with over 80,000 was required to establish neighbourhood councils (“Conseil de quartiers”): consultative bodies encouraging discussion and debate over local policy. The geographical layout and operational rules of the councils is, however, under direct control of the mayor. Paris, with a population over 2 million, has 123 neighborhood councils composed of residents, community organizers, and elected officials. Each council receives financial aid in the amount of 3,305 euros for operational expenses, and 8,264 euros for public investments. Unfortunately, the neighborhood councils have had little impact on the wider political culture and few meet participatory democracy’s standards of inclusion and empowerment.[vii] 

Despite a focus on local politics, few municipalities have taken the steps necessary to increase citizen involvement in political decision-making. The adoption of democratic innovations like participatory budgeting has been slow with the organization “Les Budgets Participatifs” reporting its existence in a mere 25 out of 36,000 cities (0.07%) across the country. Among those cities to have implemented PB, 13 have less than 20,000 inhabitants, 4 have between 20,000 and 50,000, 3 have more than 100,000, and Paris has more than 2 million. According to the report 22 out of the 25 municipalities adopted PB in 2014 with the rest following in 2015 and 2016.[viii] Explanations for this sudden increase could be the coincidence between municipal elections in 2014 and rising enthusiasm for citizen participation.[ix] Many candidates ran on platforms promising the introduction of participatory mechanisms and an increase in policy delivery.[x] Some candidates – like Paris’s Anne Hidalgo – won, made good on campaign promises, and brought Participatory Budgeting into reality. 

As in Brazil where “PB emerged out of the cauldron of leftist experimentalism,”[xi] participatory budgeting has largely been championed by left-wing politicians in France. The “Les Budgets Participatifs” report found that 21 out of 25 city-level participatory budgets were run under leftist parties like the Socialist Party (11), the Green Party (3), and the Communist Party (2).[xii] On the national stage, the socialist presidential candidate was the only one to run on a platform including PB. Broad-based support – from both citizens and officials – is the most important requirement for the development and successful implementation of PB and other forms of participatory democracy.[xiii] It is important to monitor how opportunities for citizen participation develop under Macron’s administration and after the municipal elections in 2020.

Public Participation in Paris

Running on a platform that included provisions for increased citizen involvement in municipal governance, the Socialist Party’s Anne Hidalgo won the 2014 mayoral race and her administration quickly began implementing various channels of participation and engagement. Some institutions of participation existed prior to Hidalgo’s term -- such as “Conseil des quartiers” (Neighborhood Council); “Conseil Parisien de la Jeunesse” (Youth Council) and “Etudiant de Paris-le Conseil” (Parisian Students Council) – but more have been established, including: 

Deliberative Forums

  • "Conseil des Générations Futures” (Future Generation Council): is a space for discussion and debate on economic, social and environmental issues where labor unions, public servants, associations and randomly selected residents can have their voices heard.
  • “Conseil des Citoyens” (Citizen Council): is a deliberative space for residents living in low-income neighborhoods (“quartier populaires”) designated by the city.
  • “Conférence de citoyens” (Citizen conferences): these are similar to citizen assemblies.
  • “Conseil de la nuit” (Nocturne Council): is focused on security, transport, culture, and commerce during the night in Paris.[xiv]

Educational Opportunities

In addition to the consultative institutions, Paris has set up various venues and events centred around citizen education. So-called “civic workshops” offer free courses in project management, digital tools, public speaking, and how the city works. The free “Citizenship Card” program used in New York and San Francisco offers Parisians ages 7-and-up access to special public events, museums, guided visits of municipal services, and educational workshops. Since March, card holders have been invited to “Rendez-vous Citoyens” (Citizens Meetings) to discuss issues of citizenship with experts and academics.[xv]

Participatory Urban Development

Since 2014, Paris has engineered various ways to include citizens in urban development using digital tools called “civic tech” (De Feraudy 2017). Examples include:

“” (“I engage”) is an app connecting people with NGOs for short missions based on their location, interests and availabilities.

“Dans Ma Rue” (“Fix My Street”) is a citizen reporting app letting residents alert the city about problems such as potholes, broken playgrounds, missing road signs, etc. Users can send pictures and receive notifications about the progress of their demands.

“Madame la Maire, j’ai une idée” (“Dear Mayor, I have an idea”) is a digital collaborative space where Parisians can submit ideas on different topics for review by the mayor’s office. As of 2018, the platform serves as more of a directory with links to other forums (eg. the Participatory Budget, the Citizen Councils) and upcoming events where citizens can participate. 

“Budget Participatif” (Participatory Budget) is an online and offline platform for citizens to submit ideas and share decisions in the allocation of the municipal investment fund.[xvi]

In this context of an administrative push for increased, public participation, Paris’s ‘Budget Participatif’ is just another way Parisians have been given a say in matters of municipal governance. The first cycle of PB was introduced as soon as Ms. Hidalgo came into office and, as a result, ran with a relatively small budget and only allowed citizens to vote on project proposals submitted by City Council. Parisians, however, were keen to participate: total number of voters exceeded 40,000,[xvii] the pilot project was deemed a success and the process became a city-wide institution now offering more ways for Parisians to get involved in the allocation of public funds.

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

The budget of the city is divided into two types of funds: the operational fund and the investment fund. In 2017, the operational fund made up 82% of the budget (7.7 billion euros) and the investment fund represents 18% (1.7 billion euros). For the period 2014-2020, Hidalgo is dedicating 10 billion for investments with 5% going to the participatory budget equaling half a billion euros.[xviii]

In its pilot year, the participatory budget was granted just 5% of the total municipal budget (20 million Euros) and the winning projects came in under budget at 18 million. The following year saw an increase to approximately 70 million euros and, since 2016, 100 million Euros have been earmarked for the PB.[xix] Funding is asymmetrically allocated, with 30 million dedicated to lower income neighborhoods and 10 million to school projects (which have their own student-led PB cycle).[xx] Since 2015, the ‘official’ city-wide PB has been accompanied by borough-level participatory budgeting. All 20 of Paris’s boroughs receive a yearly financial allocation for public investment. While the budget remains under borough administration control, the city has encouraged the use of PB for allocation by doubling every Euro the borough sets aside for that purpose.[xxi]

Participant Recruitment and Selection

PB is open to all residents of Paris regardless of age or nationality. In order to submit a proposal or vote, one must provide their first and last name, address, date of birth, and email. [xxii] Project proposals can be submitted by all Parisians, either individually or as a collective (for example, a neighborhood council or an association). According to the “Charter of Participatory Budgeting”, each borough “takes measures to mobilize participants by ensuring the proper dissemination of information…During the project proposal and voting phases, special attention is given to the mobilization of lower-class neighbourhoods and young people.”[xxiii]

Methods and Tools Used

Paris’s mayor Anne Hidalgo has been quoted to say “I trust the Parisians: this city they know better than anyone, I want them to help us to shape it, to grow it."[xxiv] Hence the initiation of participatory budgeting a method of democratic innovation broadly described as "a decision-making process through which citizens deliberate and negotiate over the distribution of public resources," and which is associated with increases in civic and democratic education, government transparency, and participation by historically marginalized populations.[xxv] However, the model of PB implemented in Paris is not fully citizen-led and, rather, reflects Hidalgo’s assessment that government officials provide the necessary skills and expertise to oversee the process and ensure final decisions are technically and financially feasible.[xxvi] 

While Paris’s budgeting process is not decentralised to the same extent as, for example, Porto Alegre’s, the Parisian PB cycle nevertheless provides citizens with multiple avenues for participation both online and in-person. While the majority of participation is performed online, the city offers a number of workshops and one-on-one meetings to help those without internet access, or with limited proficiency in the use of information and communications technologies.[xxvii] The Paris Participatory Budget website allows participants to:

  • Submit project proposals
  • Find, join, and/or support other projects submitted by community organizations 
  • Register in a in district or city-wide PB committee
  • Vote for commission-approved projects
  • Monitor the implementation of the winning projects[xxviii]

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

The process is organized around an annual cycle including the following phases (details of each is found below):

January-February: proposals are submitted by individuals or groups

  1. March-April: co-construction and collective discussion
  2. April-May: finalised project submissions undergo rigorous technical evaluation
  3. June-August: projects are assessed and approved by city- and borough-level ad-hoc committees which include citizen representatives
  4. August-September: winning projects organize public campaigns to draw voters
  5. September: online and in-person voting is open to all Parisians for two weeks 
  6. December: Winning projects are announced and added to the FY budget to be passed by the City Council of Paris
  7. January onwards: Project implementation begins; ‘track progress’ feature enable on website

1. January-February: Project Proposals

Between January and February, Parisians can submit their district or city-wide projects online. Projects are organized in 14 thematic areas: quality of life; transportation and mobility; the environment; culture; education and youth; sport; solidarities; cleanliness; prevention and security; intelligent city and new technologies; citizen participation; economy and employment; housing; and other.[xxix] To assist residents with this first step, the city provides regular workshops, groups, and one-on-one meetings throughout boroughs, and resources to help people develop their projects and use the online platform. These workshops and services are very important for inclusion. It allows people who don’t have access to internet, who are not proficient with ICTs, who are illiterate or uncomfortable with writing to participate.[xxx]

There are three criteria for eligibility and four criteria for success. To be eligible, the project must 

  1. Serve the public interest. 
  2. Fit within the competencies of the city of Paris. These competencies exclude buildings managed by other administrations (hospitals, high schools, government buildings); national or private museums (ie. Louvre), private sector, and public transportation and its infrastructures. 
  3. Fall under the investment’s fund purview and be feasible without requiring important operational funding.[xxxi]

In order to be increase a project’s chances of success (approval by officials and selection by voters), it should follow the “4Rs”: recevable, robuste, realisable, rassembleur 

  1. Revevable (admissible): project must meet the entry criteria (see 3 items above)
  2. Robuste (robust): the project must be described in concrete terms with specific goals and means to achieve them
  3. Realisable (realizable): the project must be financially and technically realistic. Realizable projects are often submitted with the support of an organization (eg. a development or design team) and a specifications report (including, for example, design illustrations, cost estimates, comparative examples, and plans for adaptation/alteration in response to changing circumstances)[xxxii]
  4. Rassembleur (broadly applicable/inclusive): the project should respond to a demonstrated community need and, where possible, have broad based approval and be demonstrably different from other, similar proposals. In regards to the last point, the City cautions that “it is always better to join a project than to submit a similar one.”[xxxiii] 

Since 2016, the city has encouraged people to cooperate with civic organizations or individuals who are interested in similar projects or similar geographical area so that knowledge, experiences and skills can be combined. On the website, it is possible to look for similar projects and request to join them. Specific workshops on teaching how to participate in a co-project are offered as well in each district. Encouraging cooperation is helpful to avoid duplication, promote interaction between residents, and foster an environment in which collective ideas can emerge.[xxxiv] After the pilot year, projects cannot be submitted from the City or any government authority[xxxv] with the exception of the RATP group (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens), the state-owned public transport operator.[xxxvi]

2. March-April: Co-Construction and Collective Discussion

In March, each project undergoes an initial technical evaluation (feasibility and cost) which is posted online. Projects then enter a phase of “co-construction and collective discussion” between their proposers and neighbourhood councils and civic associations. Any changes to the initial proposal – including improvement or merging – must be collectively agreed to. For city-level projects, council administration may meet with the project leaders and inhabitants to consult on the proposals. On the district level, borough mayors and authorities can organize ‘exploratory walks’ to open the proposals up to public scrutiny. 

3. April-May: Technical Evaluation

From April to May, final proposals undergo rigorous technical evaluation by the City’s operational services. Project rejections are explained to the organizers and reasoning is posted on the website.[xxxvii] 

4. June-August: Commission Assessment and Approval

In June, city-level projects are submitted to a commission comprising the Mayor of Paris (or her representative), elected officials, representatives of local democratic bodies (eg. neighbourhood councils), city service representatives (responsible for the technical evaluation), and a randomly selected group of citizens (drawn from Citizen Card holders). The committee in charge of assessing and approving borough-level projects is made up of the borough mayor (or a representative), elected representatives of the opposition, a representative of the city mayor, representatives of neighbourhood councils, and technical advisors. Committee meeting times are made public on the PB website.[xxxviii] Borough committee meetings may be open to the public but it is unclear whether that is true for city-level meetings. Since each borough maintains a large degree of control over the rules and procedures of its PB, it can also be assumed that not all make their committee meetings available to public viewing or comment.[xxxix]

5. July-August: Promotion and Campaigning

At the beginning of July, the selected projects are announced online and winning individuals or groups are encouraged to organize promotional campaigns. The city provides an online toolkit (with guides to make flyers, posters, social media posts) and in-person workshops to help candidates. Each project is presented during city sponsored events. 

6. September: Voting

For two weeks in September, voting is open to all Parisians. Voting takes place online or in-person at designated locations in the district. Each citizens is given ballot boxes in each district, for up to ten projects. Some of these ballot boxes are mobile and held in public places like schools, parks, farmer’s markets, etc. Although Parisians can submit proposals anywhere in Paris, they can only vote in the district in which they live or work.[xl]

7. December: Winning Project Announcement & Budget Adoption

Finally, after the vote, winning projects are announced and their estimated financial costs are added to the FY budget which is then voted on and passed by the City Council. 

8. January onwards: Project Implementation

At this point, the City takes full control of the process. While the initial project designers may be consulted, this is done on an as-needed basis and is not systematic. Project designers and the wider Parisian population are encouraged to sign up for project updates on the PB website[xli] and to follow progress news on and through the official PB Facebook Page.[xlii] 

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Participatory budgeting is still a new innovation in Paris so it is difficult to draw conclusions from the few completed analyses. Of the research available, most comes from the city of Paris as press releases or flyers, and from reports published by the Parisian Urban Planning Workshop (L’Atelier Parisien d’Urbanisme, APUR), an independent review and advisory body established by the City Council. According to an October 2018 press release, there have been 11, 253 projects submitted and 416 projects approved and voted on since 2014. In 2014, 9 projects won for a total cost of 17.7 million euros. In 2015, 8 city-wide projects and 180 boroughs projects were elected for a budget of 67.7 million euros. Finally, in 2016, 11 city-wide projects and 208 boroughs projects were chosen costing of 94.4 million euros.[xliii] The number of people voting is increasing every year at a significant rate. In 2014, 40,000 people voted, 67,000 in 2015, and close to 93,000 in 2016, which represents an increase of 39% over the 2015 response and involving about 7% of the Parisian population.

The APUR report on the 2015 PB looks at the projects submitted before selection and draws a statistical and geographical analysis to identify Parisians’ priorities. In 2015, of the more than 5 thousand project submissions, more than half concern three themes: quality of life (25%), transportation and mobility (15%), and the environment (14%). “Quality of Life” projects involved the development, improvement, and re-appropriation of micro public spaces like a street corner, a garden, or a wall. Projects concerning transportation and mobility focussed on pedestrians safety and alternative forms of transportation such as bicycling. Environmental projects focus on developing green energy, green spaces, urban gardens, and education programs about recycling and other sustainably-minded practices. 

Themes like sport, solidarity, cleanliness, security, new technology, the economy, citizen participation, housing, each represent less than 5% of the number of projects submitted. In 2017, the city started to encourage the development of projects around these less popular themes.[xliv]

The 2016 APUR report also found that, while project proposals are widely dispersed throughout the city, there is an intense concentration of them in the center of Paris. Boroughs with the lowest number of projects are the 7th, 8th, and 16th which are the wealthiest boroughs with older and less diverse populations. Lower-income boroughs that received a greater amount of the PB budget saw an equal number of proposals compared to other boroughs. Projects in lower-income boroughs emphasized development and beautification to make the areas more welcoming and clean. From its textual analysis of the project descriptions, the APUR concludes that participants were enthusiastic, using verbs like “creating”, “allowing”, and “improving”. Analysis of projects from across the city found an emphasis on greening and improving the welcoming nature of outdoor spaces, especially in regards to children.[xlv] 

In 2017, APUR published a report on the city’s use of new technologies for collaborative urban development and various other citizen initiatives[xlvi]. In particular, the study focussed on the influence of such modern participatory projects on citizen behaviour and the transformation of institutional management. The section of the report dedicated to PB looks at the program’s positive impact and key factors associated with its success as well as limitations and roads for improvement.

Of the benefits associated with Paris’s PB, the APUR highlights its encouragement horizontal cooperation between institutions and people, its promotion of constructive dialogue, and its ability to bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to city management and development. Collaboration with citizens over budgetary allocation helps public workers prioritize and plan shorter projects, and requires that they be more flexible and open to change. For citizens, PB is empowering and educational. Participants are given agency over the progress of their community and the opportunity to learn about public finance and project management.[xlvii]

Key factors of success identified in the report are inclusion, responsiveness and continuity. First, inclusion is important so everyone regardless of age, nationality, social status, etc. has equal opportunity to participate and benefit from projects. The use of digital and physical tools brings opportunities for more people to be included in the process. Second, it is necessary for the city to respect deadlines, deliver concrete results and ensure the quick realization of winning projects to maintain legitimacy and accountability. A constructive and transparent dialogue between the different actors needs to exist to retain membership and cooperation. Finally, the process should be continuous in time so it grows in people’s mind and becomes a popular practice.[xlviii] These factors of success match with Archon Fung’s observation in his article “Varieties of Participation in complex governance”, where he argues that mechanisms of participation, when properly designed, can address “important problems of democratic governance such as legitimacy, justice and effectiveness.”[xlix] A government is not legitimate if it does not run for the benefit of all. To avoid disconnection and distance between public officials and the broader public, participatory mechanisms that are more inclusive and representative need to be designed and implemented. According to Fung, participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil increased justice because it shifted the “site of decision making from bodies -- expert financial bureaus and an elected city council -- that once were corrupted by clientelism to a structure of open citizen participation that affords more equal opportunities for political influence.”[l] 

Analysis and Lessons Learned

While PB in Paris is in its early development phase, analyses and studies of the program have revealed some limitations of the project and areas for development. 

1) Collective deliberation is increasingly encouraged. Paris’s PB cycle is fundamentally different from Porto Alegre, containing fewer PB-specific public assemblies. However, the process is not without collective deliberation. Earlier editions of the budget kept participation fragmented, anonymous, and individualized and did not have the same provisions – especially the collective discussion phase between March and April – for co-creation and deliberation seen in the latest phase of the initiative. The process of technical assessment and commission approval is, however, still lacking in inclusive participation. Members of the commission are overwhelmingly elected officials and bureaucrats with citizen representatives made up of the ‘usual suspects’ including neighbourhood associations and holders of the (albeit free) Citizenship Card.[li] As a consequence, the priorities influencing the selection of projects are likely to represent those older and wealthier citizens who, in general, are more inclined toward political participation and who have the necessary time and resources to devout to such activities.[lii] An example of this comes from the 2016 edition of PB during which the City publicly called for projects which renovation of major public plazas like the Bastille as opposed to poor or working-class neighbourhoods.[liii] Again, however, a 2016 evaluation of Paris’s PB’s ‘good practices’ by the European Union’s URBACT programme notes that “the Paris Team has responded to all of these issues – increasing the size of the team working on citizen engagement, strengthening relations with civil society and continuing to invest in offline and online promotion of the programme.[liv] 

2) The majority of projects selected aim at making the city or a district more welcoming, modern and attractive, but few take on serious social or economic issues. These projects are often rejected by the city’s technical advisors who deem them too expensive or beyond the city’s implementation capacity.[lv] This raises the question of the level of power given to citizens in PB processes. Moreover, it could be argued that renovation projects such as repairing toilets in a school should not be left to the selection process of PB, but instead, the responsibility of the city to maintain the quality of infrastructures at all times. However, it should be noted that the city administration has responded to the demand for projects aimed at social welfare by initiating the Social Housing Participatory Budget (“le Budget participatif de bailleurs sociaux) in 2017.[lvi] As well, in the lead up to the 2018 version of the budget, the City announced it would not accept any projects to do with public space redevelopment. The city’s publication of an ‘Idea Guide’ recognizes that urban redevelopment – especially for aesthetic reasons – is a relatively easy ‘problem’ to fix, while projects addressing complex or ‘wicked’ problems like social inequality are more difficult to design.[lvii] 

3) Voting irregularities: The possibility to vote online increases inclusiveness, however it makes it difficult to monitor. Online voting increases the risk of fraud, which can lead to disproportionate support of certain projects. Voting irregularities can also happen in physical locations where the choice of location can impact the support of projects.[lviii] For example, a voting booth could be moved in front of a school in which a project is being proposed, influencing the votes. While having, mobile locations has the benefit of meeting people where they are, it’s important to establish and enforce regulations to maintain the legitimacy of the process.[lix]

4) In some cases, cost-analysis made by public agents were over or under evaluated because of lack of resources, time, know-how, or information, which resulted in construction delays.[lx] This can increase public discontent and hurt participation rates. People need to see results or else they won’t see the benefits of participating and investing their time.[lxi] A 2018 press release by the City demonstrates that organizers have, again, learned from their mistakes and have shifted to a more rapid-response, ‘learn-by-doing process’, summarized by a member of the PB coordination team as “Do and think instead of Thiiiiiiink and [maybe] do!”[lxii]

5) In 2016 the mayor extended the election period by a few days. Last-minute changes can be detrimental to the process, as they show irregularities and discontinuity. If changes need to be made, they should be communicated earlier and effectively to all.[lxiii]

Because participating in the process does not require disclosing more information than age, address, and gender, analysis of the demographics of participants is limited. The APUR report uses location as a loose proxy for socioeconomic status. However, the finding that “14% of voters live in working-class neighbourhoods” does not mean that 14% of voters were working-class.[lxiv] To insure the inclusivity of the process it would be important to look at the social status and education level of participants to get a better idea of who exactly is participating. PB is open to all who wish to attend. However, openness does not guarantee fair representation and inclusion. Studies prove that “participation is strongly correlated to income, wealth and education” and political engagement.[lxv] In the case of PBs, analysis of the Porto Alegre experience does not show the same patterns of overrepresentations of those who are wealthier and better educated, but instead demonstrates higher participation rates from disadvantaged groups.[lxvi] A 2018 report by the APUR assessed participant demographics during the 2016 cycle of Paris’s PB. General findings include: 

  • 7% of the Parisian population took part in the overall process with 4% voting in the City-level event
  • Digital voters represent 49% of voters, more than two-thirds (68%) of whom were between 25 and 54 years old
  • Turnout rates are lower in western boroughs (which also have lower populations[lxvii])
  • Project submission numbers were roughly the same across boroughs with the exception of the 7th, 8th and 16th which saw lower participation rates during the proposal phase
  • Compared to population demographics, two age groups were over-represented: 25-39 year (26% of the population, 41% of voters) and 40- 54 year olds (20% of the population, 27% of voters)

The APUR concludes that Paris’ PB managed to reach more young people than similar initiatives, traditional participants of which tend to be elderly which sociological studies have correlated with a greater amount of free time and a stronger sense of political legitimacy.[lxviii]

After submission, projects are evaluated by the city and approved for public voting. APUR analyzed the rate of approvals based on thematic areas. High approval rates are observed for projects that specify a location (41%) and the ones that concern sports (54%) or new technology (46%). Thematic areas like transportation, solidarities, and the economy had less than 20% approval rates from the city and housing gets 5%.[lxix] The report explains projects that depend on multiple actors are usually more difficult to be approved which reinforces concerns around the culture of political exclusion and distrust of ‘ordinary citizens’.[lxx] Further analysis is, however, required to establish a correlation between type of actor and rate of acceptance.

See Also

Participatory Budgeting  


[i] Sintomer, Y. (2011). « Délibération et participation: affinité elective ou concepts en tension? », Participations 1(1): 239-276. Retrouve par

[ii] Sintomer, Y.;Herzberg, C.; Rocke, A. (2008). « Participatory Budgeting in Europe: Potentials and Challenges », International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32(1): 164-178

[iii] The Guardian. (2003). French political culture. Retrieved from 

[iv] Sintomer, Y. (2011). « Emile Durkheim, entre republicanism et democratie deliberative, Sociliologie », 4(2011/4): 405-416). Retrouve par 

[v] Sintomer, Y. (2011). « Délibération et participation: affinité elective ou concepts en tension? ».


[vii] Lefebvre, Remi. (2013). “Participatory democracy in France: subsumed by local politics,” Metropolitics. Retrouve par 

[viii] Les Budgets Participatifs (2016). Combien de villes ont un budget participative en France. (Consulted on January 20th 2017).

[ix] Carrel M. and Houard N. (2012). La participation des habitants: trois pistes pour rénover la politique de la ville, Paris, Centre d’analyse stratégique, note d’analyse, n° 278. 

[x] Drouault, Sandra. (2007). Participatory Budgeting: a developing country process? A comparative analysis of

the experiences of PB in Brazil, France and Spain. University Of Sydney Faculty of Economics and Business. 

[xi] Ganuza, E. and Baiocchi, G. (2012). « The Power of Ambiguity : How PB Travels the Globe », Journal of Public Deliberation, 8(2), article 8. 

[xii] Les Budgets Participatifs (2016). Combien de villes ont un budget participative en France.

[xiii] Warren, M. (2009). « Governance-driven Democratization », Critical Policy Studies 3(1): 3-13.

[xiv] Mairie de Paris (2017). Devenir un acteur de la participation: Les conseils de quartier. En Ligne. (Consulted on January 20th 2017).

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] APUR (2017). « La ville autrement - Initiatives citoyennes, urbanisme temporaire, innovations publiques, plateformes numériques ». En ligne. (Consulted on January 20th 2017).

[xvii] Mairie de Paris (2016). Premier Bilan des Editions 2014 et 2015 du Budget Participatif. Retrieved from 

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] Les Budgets Participatifs (2018). Le budget participatif au service de l'inclusion : de Porto-Alegre à Paris. Retrieved from 

[xx] Les Budgets Participatifs (2016). Les nouveautés du budget participatif de Paris pour 2016. Retrieved from 

[xxi] Les Budgets Participatifs (2017). Budget participatif 2017: plus de pouvoir aux Parisiens?. Retrieved from

[xxii] Mairie de Paris. (2014). La Charte du #BudgetParticipatif. Retrieved from

[xxiii] Ibid.

Translated from the French: «Les arrondissements veillent à mobiliser les acteurs de terrain en s’assurant de la bonne diffusion de l’information sur les supports de communication de l’arrondissement. Durant les phases de formulation des propositions et de vote, une attention particulière est portée à la mobilisation des habitants des quartiers populaires ainsi qu’à celle des jeunes ».

[xxiv] Translated from the French << " Je fais confiance aux Parisiens : cette ville qu’ils connaissent mieux que quiconque, je veux qu’ils nous aident à la façonner, à la faire grandir. ">> 

[xxv] Participedia contributors, “Participatory Budgeting,” The Participedia Project, 

Shah A, ed. (2007). Participatory Budgeting. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. 

[xxvi] Mairie de Paris. (2018). Help Desk. Retrieved from 

[xxvii] Mairie de Paris. (2014). La Charte du #BudgetParticipatif. Retrieved from 

[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] APUR (2016). « Budget participatif: a quoi revent les parisiens? Analyse des projets soumis en 2015 ». En ligne. (Consulted on January 20th 2017).

[xxx] Ibid.

[xxxi] Mairie Onze Paris (2017). Tout savoir sur le budget participatif. En ligne. 

[xxxii] Mairie de Paris. (2018). Le guide pour faire Paris à votre idée : la boîte à outils du budget participatif. Retrouve par

[xxxiii] Ibid. Translated from the French: « il est toujours préférable de s’associer à un projet plutôt que d’en redéposer un similaire ».

[xxxiv] Les Budgets Participatifs (2017). Budget participatif 2017: plus de pouvoir aux Parisiens?.

[xxxv] Mairie de Paris. (2018). Help Desk.

[xxxvi] Les Budgets Participatifs (2017). Budget participatif 2017: plus de pouvoir aux Parisiens?.

[xxxvii] Mairie de Paris. (2018). Le guide pour faire Paris à votre idée : la boîte à outils du budget participatif.

[xxxviii] Ibid.

[xxxix] Lefebvre, Remi. (2013). “Participatory democracy in France: subsumed by local politics”.

[xl] Mairie de Paris. (2018). Help Desk.

[xli] Mairie de Pairs. (2018). La Realisation des Projects Gagnants. Retrouve par 

[xlii] Budget participatif de Paris. “Notre Budget”. 

[xliii] Mairie de Paris. (2018). Help Desk.

[xliv] APUR (2016). « Budget participatif: a quoi revent les parisiens? Analyse des projets soumis en 2015 ». En ligne. (Consulted on January 20th 2017).

[xlv] Ibid.

[xlvi] APUR (2017). « La ville autrement - Initiatives citoyennes, urbanisme temporaire, innovations publiques, plateformes numériques ». En ligne. (Consulted on January 20th 2017).

[xlvii] Ibid.

[xlviii] Ibid.

[xlix] Fung, A. (2006). « Varieties of Participation in Complex Governance », Public Administration Review, p. 66-75.

[l] Fung, A. (2006). « Varieties of Participation in Complex Governance », Public Administration Review, p. 66-75.

[li] Mairie de Paris. (2018). Le guide pour faire Paris à votre idée : la boîte à outils du budget participatif.

[lii] APUR (2018). « Budget Participatif de Paris: Qui Sont les Parisiens? », retrouve par

[liii] APUR. (2016). « Budget participatif: a quoi revent les parisiens? Analyse des projets soumis en 2015 »

[liv] URBACT. (2016). Paris Participatory Budget: Good Practices Summary. Retrieved from 

[lv] APUR. (2016). « Budget participatif: a quoi revent les parisiens? Analyse des projets soumis en 2015 »

[lvi] APUR (2018). « Budget Participatif de Paris: Qui Sont les Parisiens? »

[lvii] Mairie de Paris. (2018). « A Telecharger: Un Catalogue d’Idees pour Deposer des Projets », retrouve par 

[lviii] Smith, G. (2009). “Studying democratic innovations: an analytical framework.” In Democratic Innovations, 14. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[lix] Shah A, ed. (2007). Participatory Budgeting.

[lx] APUR. (2016). « Budget participatif: a quoi revent les parisiens? Analyse des projets soumis en 2015 »

[lxi] Shah A, ed. (2007). Participatory Budgeting.

[lxii] Cabannes, Y. (2017). Participatory Budgeting in Paris: Act, Reflect, Grow. In Cabannes, Y (ed.) Another city is possible with Participatory Budgeting. Montreal/New York/London: Black Rose Books, pg. 179-203. Retrieved from 

[lxiii] Shah A, ed. (2007). Participatory Budgeting.

[lxiv] Ibid.

[lxv] Smith, G. (2009). “Studying democratic innovations: an analytical framework.” In Democratic Innovations, 14. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[lxvi] Baiocchi G. (2003). « Participation, Activism, and Politics: the Porto Alegre experiment and deliberative democratic theory. » Politics & Society 29(1) : 43-72

[lxvii] UrbiStat (2018). Region of Ile-de-France Rankings and Thematic Maps. Retrieved from 

[lxviii] APUR (2018). « Budget Participatif de Paris: Qui Sont les Parisiens? »

[lxix] APUR (2016). « Budget participatif: a quoi revent les parisiens? Analyse des projets soumis en 2015 ». En ligne. (Consulted on January 20th 2017).

[lxx] Sintomer, Y. (2011). « Emile Durkheim, entre republicanism et democratie deliberative, Sociliologie ».

External Links

Official Website [French]:

Paris PB Overview [English]:

Paris Participatory Budgeting Slideshare [English]:


The first edition of this entry was written by Juliette Legendre from the Université de Montréal and submitted on her behalf by Hélène Madénian.

Lead image: Contribuables Associés

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