Interest in participatory budgeting is continuing to grow. In Germany today more than 130 municipalities are currently discussing introducing it, and more than 80 have already done so. The participatory budget has proved that it can be a useful instrument for forward-looking local development which can be feasibly implemented at low cost and a manageable level of administrative input. It improves dialogue between citizens, policymakers and administrators, and in so doing builds trust and confidence – an increasingly important asset when budgets are tight. It also fosters citizens’ willingness to actively shape their own environment, which is imperative if local policy is to be implemented sustainably.
Just how much participatory and transparent budgeting can improve local government administration and people’s everyday lives was first demonstrated by the participatory budget in Porto Alegre. This city in Brazil, which has a population of over one million, introduced the world’s first participatory budget in 1989. In the years since then it has gone on to develop a special implementation model that has gained recognition and won many imitators around the world. The idea of the participatory budget has also spread from Porto Alegre to Europe and Germany. Various participatory budgeting models have gradually emerged that have different objectives and procedures, and use different instruments. Nonetheless there is much common ground for a dialogue between local governments at the national and international levels.