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• Brazil

Participatory Budgeting

In many countries, planning and executing public budgets involve waste and come up against difficulties due to power concentration. For decades, Brazil experienced high inflation rates, which made budget management and control difficult. A change in this historical trend occurred in 1989, when the city of Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, with a population of 1.4 million inhabitants, elected Olívio Dutra as mayor. He and his team decided to set up a new mechanism for municipal administration, called “orçamento participativo”, participatory budgeting, based on social justice and the inclusion of social classes that had, until then, been excluded from representation. Participatory budgeting was an innovatory form of direct participation by the people in formulating and implementing budget policies in the city. Participatory budgeting brought democracy to decisions on how the city’s public resources were used. In the following years, this innovatory experience of participatory budgeting led to the creation of other channels of popular participation such as forums, councils, committees, and conferences. Porto Alegre came to be known as the Capital of Democracy.

Text written by Eduardo Mancuso