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Evaluating Italian Participatory Budgets

Antonio Putini
Sapienza University of Rome
Antonio Putini
Sapienza University of Rome
Open Panel

Abstract

Since the Sixties, scholars are talking about the status of crisis of Western democracies: mistrust of citizens; decline of Welfare State; crisis of legitimacy. To find a cure for this increasing uneasiness, we’re assisting to the flourishing of a certain number of actions and “experiments”. A lot of these practices are a sort of laboratory experiments more than real processes to be implemented in the ordinary institutions’ life. But, in other cases, they became an out and out path for a re-democratization of our democracies. Participatory Budget is an administrative local instrument of decision-making, which tries to bind together the participation of citizens (within a wider and more inclusive definition of citizenry) with a particular attention reserved to the procedural and dialogical schemes of interaction between its participants. It looks at inclusion, co-decision and fairness as the final aims of every local administration so to reach a better and more sustainable way of life for its citizens. By spreading out in thousands of cities and villages worldwide, PB has obviously assumed different procedures and ways of application, as well as different exits. This paper aims to verify such exits by analysing the participative dimension and the level of deliberation in four Italian case studies. By matching a number of indicators with some contest variables (such as the political willingness or the presence and the role of civil society) we will try to show the reasons of a good experiment as well as the pragmatic limits that each experience has encountered.