Data

General Issues
Economics
Location
Porto Alegre
Brazil
Scope of Influence
name:scope_of_influence-key:metropolitan_area
Components of this Case
Porto Alegre Participatory Budgeting Cycle 2005-2007
Links
http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/
Start Date
Ongoing
Yes
Time Limited or Repeated?
Repeated over time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Approach
Co-governance
Spectrum of Public Participation
Collaborate
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Open to All
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Both
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Ask & Answer Questions
Express Opinions/Preferences Only
Decision Methods
Voting
Idea Generation
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Report
Public Hearings/Meetings
New Media
Type of Organizer/Manager
Local Government
Type of Funder
Local Government
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Implementers of Change
Elected Public Officials
Lay Public

CASE

Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre 1989-present

First Submitted By Institute of Development Studies

Most Recent Changes By Scott Fletcher, Participedia Team

General Issues
Economics
Location
Porto Alegre
Brazil
Scope of Influence
name:scope_of_influence-key:metropolitan_area
Components of this Case
Porto Alegre Participatory Budgeting Cycle 2005-2007
Links
http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/
Start Date
Ongoing
Yes
Time Limited or Repeated?
Repeated over time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Approach
Co-governance
Spectrum of Public Participation
Collaborate
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Open to All
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Both
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Ask & Answer Questions
Express Opinions/Preferences Only
Decision Methods
Voting
Idea Generation
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Report
Public Hearings/Meetings
New Media
Type of Organizer/Manager
Local Government
Type of Funder
Local Government
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Implementers of Change
Elected Public Officials
Lay Public

Porto Alegre’s participatory budget is the oldest in the world, beginning in 1989 and continuing into the present. The budgeting process follows a yearly cycle and is open to all citizens of voting age.

Problems and Purpose

Porto Alegre was the first city in the world to increase citizen involvement in municipal management through participatory budget allocation. Participatory budgeting is held on a yearly cycle which has been repeated every year since its introduction in 1989.[1] 

Background History and Context

Participatory budgeting was introduced in Porto Alegre in 1989 after the victory of the Workers’ Party in the municipal elections. The devolution of control over public funds came at a time in the city’s history when Popular Councils were heavily influenced by Marxist-Leninist-Trotskyist conceptions of ‘dual power’ and a criticism of classical representative democracy.[2] 

A novelty at the time, Porto Alegre’s model participatory budgeting was designed to strike a balance between the traditional institutions of representative electoral democracy and the participation of members of the public in the political decision-making process. Direct participation was, and remains, a central tenant of the city’s participatory budget,[3] and the practice of participatory budgeting and other forms of democratic innovation more widely. 

Since its introduction, the process of participatory budgeting used in Porto Alegre has undergone some changes. The most recent revisions to the process took place in 2005 when a new administration came into power,[4] in 2007 when a new region was added, [5] and in 2012 when the beginning of the cycle was moved from January to February.[6] A detailed case entry on the cycles between 2005-2007 is available here

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

Participatory budgeting was initiated by government officials and continues to be run and funded by the local government.[7] Porto Alegre’s budget is one of the largest to be allocated through a parcipatory budget at approx. $1,200 USD per person.[8]

Participant Recruitment and Selection

Participant recruitment and selection varies depending on the phase of the budgeting cycle. Citizens elect delegates to city-wide meetings that take place in the second phase of each budget cycle.

Gender parity in the composition of the boards for the election of councillors (COP) and Delegates' Forums was adopted as a "recommendation" in 2003.[9] 

Citizen participation in the process has grown over time, reaching 50,000 citizens by 2004. As was originally intended, participation from underrepresented groups (low-income, women and people without formal education) has been particularly high.[10]

Methods and Tools

Participatory budgeting allows citizen engagement in policy making and represents an example of more equitable governance. People become engaged in defining government policies, through a transparent process that is also more efficient for the implementing institution. Participatory budgeting has been recognised as an efficient way to use public resources and improve the fiscal performance of governments, including the issue of reducing corruption. [11] The process was first implemented in Porto Alegre and has been replicated in several countries since.[12] 

Every year, citizens participate in a series of open, deliberative meetings and to discuss community issues and determine spending priorities. The Porto Alegre model includes a combination of regional forums and city-wide meetings, the former of which are open to all citizens and the latter to elected delegates. Decisions made by citizens during the PB cycle directly inform the allocation of that year’s budget.[13]

What Went on: Process, Interaction, and Participation 

The following is an overview of the participatory budgeting cycles held in Porto Alegre since 1989. The process has undergone revisions over time and the description provided here was sourced from recent publications (2004-2018). A detailed description of the 2005-2007 cycle can be found here.  

Porto Alegre’s participatory budget has three main stages: the prepatory meetings, the regional and thematic assemblies, and the municipal assembly.[14] The process starts in February when municipal assembly is held during which that year’s “Investment Services Plan” is detailed, finalizing the distribution of resources to the regional and thematic participatory budgets. The second phase involves more technical meetings which are held to discuss the specific criteria of that year’s PB and to review the internal regulations. Online submissions of budgeting proposals and demands are also opened during this phase. Follow this is, 17 regional and 6 thematic assemblies open to the public are convened. Funding proposals and priorities deliberated on during regional meetings focus on issues relevant to the communities and neighbourhoods.[15] In contrast, each thematic assembly is dedicated to one of six topics: 

1. Transport and Urban Mobility

2. Health and Social Care

3. Education, Sports, and Leisure

4. Culture and Youth

5. Economic Development, Taxation, Tourism, and Labour

6. Housing, City Organization, Urban and Environmental Development[16]

Budget priorities are approved by individual vote, councillors are elected to form the Participatory Budget Council (COP), and delegates are elected to attend the Delegates Forum. Four (two official and two alternate) COP councillors are elected at each of the assemblies. The number of delegates elected depends on the number of those in attendance. As of 2018, one delegate is elected for every 10 participants.[17] The Delegates Forums are then convened: Regional and Thematic with plenary sessions held to “discuss a matter of general interest.”[18] The priorities set during the Regional and Thematic Assemblies are prioritized by Delegates and presented to government officials who analyse their technical and financial feasibility.[19] 

Those elected to the COP are in charge of the more technical aspects of participatory budgeting. Alongside those elected during the Regional and Thematic Assemblies sit two nominees from the Union of Residents Associations, and four (two incumbents and two deputies) members of the city council (who do not have voting rights in the deliberations). The COP plans, proposes, supervises and deliberates on the revenues and expenditures of the municipal budget. The body also reviews, annually, the Internal Regulation and process of the Participatory Budget.[20]

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Because participatory budgeting gives ordinary citizens more power over the allocation of municipal funds, the first decade of PB’s use in Porto Alegre saw a significant improvement in living conditions of those on low incomes and in poverty (even when overall the Brazilian economy was weak):

- From 1988–1997 sewer and water connections increased from 75 percent of total households to 98 percent

- New public housing units, sheltering 1,700 citizens in 1986, sheltered 27,000 in 1989

- The number of schools has more than quadrupled since 1986

- The health and education budget increased from 13 percent in 1985 to almost 40 percent in 1996.

In general, decisions have been made to prioritise social justice over short-term economic gains, such as turning down a proposal for a five-star hotel in favour of a public park and convention hall.[21]

Analysis and Lessons Learned

After 20 years of successful operation, challenges began to arise when the Worker’s Party lost elections in 2004. Although budget allocations continue, subsequent governments have not had the same level of engagement, and there are accusations of more clientelistic relationships. On the other hand, the system has been sustained as governments do not have the political backing to dismantle it.[22] 

Challenges include: building sufficient citizen autonomy, limited financial resources allocated for the council, and the limitations related to the types of issue that can be influenced. For example, national economic decisions that have direct impact on marginalised sectors of the population are not discussed, due to the local-focus.[23]

See Also 

Participatory Budgeting (method)

Porto Alegre Participatory Budgeting Cycle 2005-2007 (component)

References

[1] Yves Cabannes, Contribution of Participatory Budgeting to provision and management of basic services: municipal practices and evidence from the field (London: IIED Working Paper, 2014), 12-13.

[2] Luciano Joel Fedozzi and André Luis Borges Martins, “Trajetória do orçamento participativo de Porto Alegre: representação e elitização política,” Lua Nova: Revista de Cultura e Política, no. 95 (May/Aug 2015): 192. Retrieved from http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-64452015000200181&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=pt#fn09

[3] Fedozzi and Martins, “Trajetória do orçamento participativo de Porto Alegre,” 192-193. 

[4] “Histórico do Orçamento Participativo,” Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/default.php?p_secao=1129.

[5] “Funcionamento Geral,” Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/default.php?p_secao=15

[6] Ciclo do Orçamento Participativo, Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/default.php?p_secao=16

[7] “Histórico do Orçamento Participativo,” Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/default.php?p_secao=1129.

[8] Cabannes, Contribution of Participatory Budgeting, 5. 

[9] Fedozzi and Martins, “Trajetória do orçamento participativo de Porto Alegre,” 196. 

[10] Lars Hasselblad Torres, Roger Bernier, Matthew Leighninger, The deliberative agency: Opportunities to deepen public participation (Washington, D.C.: Deliberative Democracy Consortium Discussion Paper, 2014), 17. 

[11] Cabannes, Contribution of Participatory Budgeting, 9.

[12] “Histórico do Orçamento Participativo,” Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/default.php?p_secao=1129.

[13] Hasselblad, Bernier, and Leighninger, The deliberative agency, 19-20. 

[14] “Histórico do Orçamento Participativo,” Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/default.php?p_secao=1129.

[15] “Linguagem OP,” Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/default.php?p_secao=18

[16] Secretaria Municipal de Governança Local e Secretaria Municipal de Planejamento Estratégico e Orçamento Gabinete de Comunicação Social, Regimento Interno Critérios Gerais, Técnicos e Regionais - 2016/2017 (Online: Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, 2017), http://lproweb.procempa.com.br/pmpa/prefpoa/op/usu_doc/regimento_interno_op_2016-2017.pdf

[17] http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-64452015000200181&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=pt 

[18] “Linguagem OP,” Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/default.php?p_secao=18.

[19] Hasselblad, Bernier, and Leighninger, The deliberative agency, 20. 

[20] Glossary http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/default.php?p_secao=18

[21] Canan Corus and Julie L. Ozanne, “Stakeholder Engagement: Building Participatory and Deliberative Spaces in Subsistence Markets,” Journal of Business Research 65, no. 12 (December 2012): 1728–35, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2012.02.014

[22] Corus and Ozanne, “Stakeholder Engagement: Building Participatory and Deliberative Spaces in Subsistence Markets,” 1733-35. 

[23] Corus and Ozanne, “Stakeholder Engagement: Building Participatory and Deliberative Spaces in Subsistence Markets,” 1733-35.

External Links

Official Website [Portuguese]: http://www2.portoalegre.rs.gov.br/op/

Notes

The first submission of this Participedia entry was adapted from a research project by the Institute of Development Studies, 'Linking Participation and Economic Advancement’ licensed and reproduced under Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0). Original source: https://www.eldis.org/keyissues/mapping-participation-economic-advancement

Lead image: Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre, http://bit.ly/2VkKiRE