Portugal Participatory Budget

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This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)

The Portugal Participatory Budget (PPB) is a democratic, direct and universal process that allows civil society to decide on public investments in different governmental areas.

It is the first nationwide public participatory budget in the world, enhancing its originality. PPB helps to bring people closer to politics and decision-making, while promoting a deeper connection between regions, integrating the coastline and interior areas, as well as the rural and urban areas.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The Portugal Participatory Budget (PPB) is a democratic, direct and universal process that allows civil society to decide on public investments in different governmental areas. And it is deliberative, which means that Portuguese people are presenting investment proposals and they will be the ones to choose, through voting, which projects are to be implemented, in a very transparent and open way.

It is the first participatory budget of the world done at countrywide level, allowing citizens to propose and vote on ideas for public investments funded by the National State Budget of Portugal.

To ensure the maximum engagement of citizens from all over the country, the PPB consists of a hybrid participatory model that combines face-to-face interactions between citizens and the State, with the use of ICT tools specifically developed to bring the initiative to all citizens and ensure that everyone can fully participate.

The face to face approach is mainly based on participatory meetings held nationwide, in which the population is able to present and discuss their ideas in person, with the assistance of specialized personnel managing these sessions. Still, the citizens can also submit their proposals at the Citizens Spots (assisted digital services counters) and at some public libraries all around the country. The citizens can use digital tools to participate, but also more traditional channels, so anyone can take part of the initiative, even the ones with fewer digital skills. Anyone can participate, which fosters social inclusion and at the same time enhances trust in the public administration.

For the ones that are more comfortable using ICTs, the proposals can be presented online at the PPB portal. In fact, the PPB 2018 webportal plays a central role in the implementation of the initiative as it presents three key features: aggregates all the info about the project; allows citizens to submit their ideas for proposals; allows citizens to vote on the final set of proposals (which can also be done through free-of-charge SMS).

The projects can be regional, or national, thus connecting different areas of the country, and encouraging a broader public participation. It has the potential for becoming an essential tool in creating national networks, and integrating coastline and interior areas, as well as rural and urban areas, since it incorporates groups of proposals with different territory scope - regional and nationwide. The voting phase, which is now in place for this second edition of the PPB, allows each citizens to vote twice: one vote for regional projects and another for national projects.

The PPB really brings people closer to politics and decision-making, compelling them to present sustainable proposals regarding other cities/regions besides their own, fostering an inclusive view of the country. Besides, the process of proposing initiatives and vote for them makes people more aware of the political processes, the civic responsibilities and the context of allocation of public resources, which empowers the population. Additionally, populations traditionally that are not as heard as they should be, such as the rural communities, have now an open channel to directly participate in the policy making process.

The first edition of the PPB was carried out in 2017 and gathered 1015 ideas (Phase 1 – Collection of citizen’s ideas), which resulted in 599 projects to be voted (Phase 2 – Technical analysis of the submitted ideas according to defined rules and criteria), 78 815 votes by the Portuguese population (Phase 3 – Voting) and 38 winning projects, to be implemented by the government and by the respective sectorial services of the Public Administration, in articulation with the proponents of the proposals.

The ongoing edition confirmed the success of the PPB model, with a total of submitted proposals (1418) and voting projects (692), surpassing the numbers of 2017. The voting phase of 2018’s edition ended on September 30 and the winning projects will be known on the second week of October.

Thanks to the first edition success, and some lessons learned, the PPB 2018 edition has introduced some new features, comparing to the previous one. It has a new and improved website, it had a budget increase from three to five million euros, and it is now open to all the governmental areas, instead of being limited to only six areas, like it happened in the first edition.

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