In an article published on the 11th March 2015 on the respected Foreign Affairs website, Paolo Spada and Hollie Russon Gilman provide a overview of the development of participatory budgeting (PB) in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil since the late 1980’s. They consider what’s been achieved in the birthplace of PB, as it evolves its well regarded experience in participatory democracy.
One that started after the re-establishment of democratic government, following a period of corrupt military rule. Brazil has become recognised as both a growing force in the global economy and the home of important innovations in participatory democracy.
Focussing mainly on PB, which has engaged tens of thousand of residents of Porto Alegre, and many more worldwide, they consider the lessons this large modern city may have for politicians and government officials elsewhere, when seeking to rebuild trust in democratic institutions.
Porto Alegre’s PB programme has been acknowledged as a successful implementation of a standout democratic innovation and a symbol of what participatory co-governance can achieve. It has engaged lots of citizens, inspired others to innovate further and contributed to raising the standard of the basic services of the poorest members of society.
The authors note how far PB has spread across the globe and report that "since 2012, state-level PB processes in Rio Grande do Sul boast the highest participation rates in Brazil, with over 1.3 million participants, of which around 200,000 participate online."