Update > Participation



Participation could be either direct or through legitimate institutions and representatives. It provides opportunities for citizens to participate in decision making. This means citizens (including minorities and vulnerable groups) can take part in decision-making as well as planning, implementing, and monitoring government activities.

Good governance involves creating ways for the public to participate in policymaking. It also establishes mechanisms for the inclusion of minority groups in decision-making processes. It can also encourage civil society and local communities to express their views on issues of importance to them.

Political parties promote participation by aggregating the interests of the political community. Political parties articulate the preferences, values, and ideologies of their supporters. They provide a vehicle for citizens to influence policy and lawmaking processes (e.g., in Parliament) and in the spending priorities of the government.

Furthermore, parties provide a path for citizens to enter into political leadership. They recruit political personnel and provide a space to build the capacity of politicians. By selecting these persons and presenting them as candidates for elections, parties are a direct link between citizens and the political system.

Some examples of specific measures that political parties can advocate for to promote participation include:

• Reform of election laws and/or the electoral system to make sure that elections are regular, open, competitive, honest elections

Increased or enhanced mechanism for citizens to be consulted in policy planning and evaluation. This can include the increased use of referenda and citizens initiatives.

• Creation or amendment of association laws to make it easier for political parties and civil society organizations to participate in politics.

• Ensure that the political parties own programs and practices that promote and are accessible for participation of diverse groups, including women, minorities and other vulnerable groups

Examples of Participation as an Aspect of Good Governance


KALAHI-CIDSS is a Department of Social Welfare and Development training project in the Philippines. It aims to directly involve communities in the poorest provinces in choosing the method of service delivery and poverty reduction programs best suited to their needs. The objective of KALAHI-CIDSS is the “empowerment of local communities through their involvement in the design and implementation of poverty reduction projects and improved participation in local governance.”

Case Study: Participatory Budgeting in Brazil
Porto Alegre is a city in Brazil. It is famous for its “participatory budgeting” system that it used from 1991 to 2004. Participatory Budgeting allows local citizens to make decisions about how the government spends money in their city. It is now being used in over 1,500 cities around the world.

In the Porto Alegre system, each of the 16 townships in the city hold two meetings every year. The first meeting is typically very big. In some townships, over 1,000 people participate. In these meetings, the people elect representatives to discuss the township’s budget.

After this meeting, these representatives hold several smaller meetings with other citizens who live in their township. They discuss the needs and concerns of the local citizens and make suggestions for the next year’s budget.Three months later, each township has a second big meeting. In the second meeting, they choose the best suggestions that the representatives collected. They also vote to elect councilors who will be on a Municipal Council for their township.

The Municipal Council then develops a budget based on citizen’s suggestions. They send this budget to the city government. The city government can approve the budget straight away, or send it back to the Municipal Council to make changes. However, if over 66% of the Municipal Council votes to accept the budget without changes, then it must be accepted by the city government.About 20,000 people participated in this process every year. It also included marginalized groups (e.g., women, poor and uneducated people) in decision-making. This method made sure that money was not only spent in rich neighborhoods.

This system had positive results. From 1991 to 2004:
Buses started running to the poor areas.

The number of citizens with running water went from 75% to 98%.

The number of local government schools nearly tripled.

Source: Empowerment Case Studies: Participatory Budgeting in Brazil