The Participatory Challenge: Deliberation and Democratic Inclusion in Participatory Budgeting

Special Report: Dynamics of Participation in Latin America
By Ernesto Ganuza, Francisco Francés

Participatory theory has undergone a communicative shift that has, during recent years, favored the organization of new participatory experiments based on classic principles of deliberative theory, such as the principle of inclusion and the equality of individuals with regard to the act of deliberating. The development of participatory budgets over the last decade provides an excellent analytical framework for finding out how the experiments implement the principle of inclusion and to what extent they allow participants to effectively take advantage of opportunities for deliberation. This paper attempts to contextualize this process, what it has meant, and how it has taken place, making use of comparative research between the experiences of Brazil, Spain, France, and Germany. The article attempts to frame an emergent discussion about the conflict between or the existing challenge involving the deliberative turn in political theory and participation. It is understood that deliberation demands spaces of reflection that participatory processes do not contemplate. Participatory budgeting, however, aims to merge both dimensions. Our purpose is to understand the differences that emerge in different political contexts. The results allow us to better understand how to articulate the various procedures implemented and the relationship between deliberation and participation.


  • participatory budgeting
  • participative democracy
  • participatory modernisation
  • local democracy
  • inclusion
  • deliberation
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