Belgian city Antwerp has established an innovative method for participatory budgeting, through which the city allocates 1.1 million euro annually of public funds to be spent by citizens. Using consensus decision-making, face-to-face debate, and hard-to-reach residents, the city developed a process which resulted in 190,000 Antwerp residents deciding how 10% of its annual budget (1.1 million euro) would be spent.
In the age of connectivity, democracies are changing. Instantaneous flows of information and abundant data, in concert with rising inequality and environmental destabilisation among other issues mean that governments must adapt. Could participatory democracy like this budgeting pilot in antwerp be such an adaptation? Is including citizens directly in the decision-making and management of their governments a viable method for revitalizing democracy in the 21st century, and potentially reducing today’s polarised politics? Current techno-ethnographic assets like smartphones and connectivity could enable participatory democracies like never before, but what repercussions might there be from doing so?
Click here to read more about participatory democracy in Belgium.