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Institutionalising Participation: Assessing How Empowered Participatory Democracy is Achieved and How it is Negated

Comparative Politics
Democracy
Political Participation
Matthew Ryan
University of Southampton
Matthew Ryan
University of Southampton
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Abstract

As the study of democratic innovations matures it has taken a significant comparative turn. This paper reports the results of analysis of eighteen cases of participatory budgeting from around the world. Fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis is applied to rich existing data to make moderate generalisations as to the necessary and sufficient conditions that explain the institutionalisation of empowered participatory democracy (EPD). The analysis shows that causal explanations of empowered participatory governance and its negation are multiple and cannot be explained by isolating causal conditions. While a political leadership which prioritises participation comes close to being a necessary condition for EPD, under specific circumstances the absence of leadership is equally necessary to explain EPD. Moreover, a political commitment to participatory politics is only a sufficient condition in combination with financial and bureaucratic capacities. Finally I show that where programmes have failed to empower explanations hinge on the absence of a strong civil society or adequate financial spending to support committed participatory governors.