The Porto Alegre Experiment

Learning Lessons for Better Democracy

By Marion Gret and Yves Sintomer  

Paperback $29.95

Porto Alegre presents an apparent alternative to the world. With its experiment in participative budgetmaking over the past decade, this city has institutionalised the direct democratic involvement, locality by locality, of ordinary citizens in deciding spending priorities.

The Porto Alegre Experiment gives a down to earth description of the practice of democratic innovation while asking the difficult questions. Can local participation in public management really strengthen its efficiency? Is genuine participation possible without small groups monopolizing power? Can local organizations avoid becoming bureaucratized and cut off from their roots? Can neighbourhood mobilisation go beyond parochialism and act in the general interest? The book also raises the bigger question about what lessons can be learned from Porto Alegre to renew democratic institutions elsewhere in the world. This illuminating and independent-minded investigation will be of use to scholars, politicians and those campaigning for a deepening of democratic institutions worldwide.

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  • Foreword to the English Edition
  • Introduction
  • Porto Alegre, a ‘Red City’
  • The Participatory Budget: A Democratic Innovation
  • The Challenge of Efficiency and Participation
  • The Challenges of Institutionalization and Scale
  • Conclusion: Toward another Democracy


  • Marion Gret

    University of Rennes; Paris III

    Marion Gret is a research associate at the University of Rennes and at Paris III.

  • Yves Sintomer

    University of Paris VIII; Marc Bloch Centre, Berlin

    Yves Sintomer divides his time between the University of Paris VIII and the Marc Bloch Centre in Berlin where he is a researcher.

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