Why participatory democracy?
Democracy is on the crossroads.
The tools of the representative democracy, so deeply rooted in European and American tradition, are no longer suitable to answer the needs of the modern, ever-changing society. So if we want to secure fair and inclusive society, we need to find an alternative to the existing political system.
Social movements all around the world, which are now growing stronger than ever, demand citizens’ inclusion in decision-making processes. What they are trying to prove is that people know best what they need in their lives so their voice must be heard.
Participatory budgeting, among many tools of participatory democracy, is now in the spotlight. This method provides people with an opportunity to decide about the money that comes from taxes. First implemented in Porto Allegre, Brazil, 25 years ago, participatory budgeting is now spreading around the world. It is radically different from traditional top-down redistribution system as it assumes that people themselves should make decisions about their own lives. Handing control over resources to the community does not only have an empowering effect, but also helps to secure their just and equal redistribution.
Having said that, one must remember that participation is not easy. Conflicting interests, particular needs, and wavering support for authorities make more and more people doubt, whether democracy and civic engagements is worth a try.