In an effort to enhance the participation of citizens in the decision-making process and raise their level of confidence in government spending, The Government of Portugal has launched a specialized initiative to prepare participatory budgets to serve as a comprehensive and direct mechanism that gives them the opportunity to express their views on government investments in various fields. The initiative was launched by the Administrative Development Authority with the participation of the Minister of State for Administrative Development. This will result in enhancing economic and social harmony through the implementation of projects capable of connecting the residents of different regions in the country. Portugal's participatory budgeting initiative includes participatory budgets at the national level, participatory budgets for youth and schools.
The initiative includes eight sets of proposals, one at the government level, five at the local level and two at the level of the autonomous communities. In order to achieve a high level of organization and efficiency, The initiative is implemented in three basic stages. The first phase involves citizens submitting budget proposals either in person in participatory meetings or through the initiative's portal. The next stage is the voting phase, which allows citizens to vote twice. The first is for local projects and the second is for government projects, whether through the electronic portal or by sending free SMS. Finally, A list of approved proposals is drawn up and put to a public vote that remains open for approximately three months. It is worth noting that the selection process depends on the system of criteria set by the bodies to determine the level of implementation and choose from among the predetermined areas such as culture, science, education and agriculture.
The mechanism for participation in this initiative was clarified through a set of time-bound steps. The process of evaluating and publishing reports and preparing for the first cycle begins from January to March. The operating bases and size are then determined during one month from March to April, The online and online proposal submission process will then begin during May and June. From July to 15 September, These proposals are subjected to technical analysis and are transferred to the Project Implementation Department. A provisional list of projects and complaints is then prepared from September 16 to September 30, They will then be analyzed, the reasons for rejection or approval will be formulated, and the final list of projects will be prepared in October. Finally, voting takes place in October and the projects with the most votes are placed among the proposals for approval during the period from November to December.
Thanks to this initiative, Citizens can now submit their investment proposals and identify projects that should be financed and implemented according to a transparent mechanism based on public voting. The beneficiaries of the initiative were not limited to citizens; it has been used by local municipalities since the early second millennium to motivate citizens to participate in the decision-making process at the local level. In a move aimed at broadening citizen participation to cover the entire country, Portugal has developed a set of institutional systems to create a comprehensive national network that welcomes the participation of citizens from everywhere. A special mechanism has also been adopted to classify proposals according to their local and national levels.
Since its launch in 2017, The initiative proved effective as the government received many proposals in the fields of science, culture, agriculture and continuous learning and fifty open meetings were organized in which 2500 people participated to present and discuss ideas. The number of participatory budgets under implementation reached more than 180 during the launch of the participation website. Some budgets have targeted specific age groups of citizens. For example, 20% of budgets were used to stimulate youth participation exclusively. The initiative received 973 proposals. Of these, 599 were approved, 202 at the government level and 397 at the local level. The number of votes reached 78,815 resulting in the implementation of 38 projects by the Government of Portugal. In the second edition of the government's participatory budget for 2018, A total of 1,418 proposals were selected, of which 692 were selected.
Keen to enhance the success of the initiative and keep pace with its growing scope, Portugal has increased its budget for the implementation of projects under the umbrella of this initiative to reach €5 million from just €3 million in 2017.