Home > Americas, Economics, Latin America, Politics > Lessons of Porto Alegre

Lessons of Porto Alegre

Hilary Wainwright writes in Comment is Free:

Devolving power is one of those feel-good phrases that need to be considered critically if we are to make the most of such announcements. The problem with devolved power is that it can easily be revoked. This is particularly the case if the power and resources of local government are not increased. So how can participatory budgeting – which, Blears insisted, is “not just consultation” – become a foundation stone of a renewed democracy?

It is worth looking more closely at what can be learned from the Brazilian experience. Direct popular participation in decisions over the municipality’s budget for new investments earned Porto Alegre a United Nations prize as the world’s most habitable city, led to a significant redistribution of resources to the poor, and caused such an improvement in the general quality of life that middle-class citizens accepted a tax increase.

As a means of monitoring investments as well as deciding on them, the participatory budget contributed to an impressive improvement in the infrastructure and services as well as in the transparency and efficiency of financial systems. It also proved to be a strong defence against the pressure to privatise public services.

Read the complete text >>

Advertisements
  1. PB
    July 11, 2007 at 7:22 am

    There is lots more information about Participatory Budgeting at http://www.participatorybudgeting.org.uk

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: