Participatory Democracy in Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte
Participatory budgeting is a form of Participatory Democracy that is being increasinglyused in Brazilian cities. This dissertation describes research conducted on the participatorybudgets of two Brazilian cities, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte. The research wasundertaken with the overall aim of examining and comparing the participatory budgetingexperiences in these two cities and then using this examination to identify the key localvariables that can influence the outcomes of participatory budgets. The research made useof both primary and secondary data sources. The primary data used the result of 22 semistructuredinterviews that took place in April and May 2004, and the secondary data wasthe already existing body of literature on participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre and BeloHorizonte. The key findings of this research are that participatory budgeting has had somesignificant successes in both Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte. At the same time thoughthe participatory budgets in Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte have encountered problemsthat have limited their abilities to produce results. There are also several areas where theoutcomes of participatory budgeting are, at present, unclear. Some of the outcomes of theparticipatory budgets in Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte are very similar yet there weredifferences in the processes’ results. Two key variables are identified in the analysis: theability of the participatory budget to produce tangible results and the degree of need that acity’s populace has for municipal services. Associated with these key variables are a rangeof secondary variables that also influence the outcomes of participatory budgets.