Portugal has announced the world’s first nationwide participatory budget | Apolitical

Portugal has announced the world’s first participatory budget on a national scale. The project will let people submit ideas for what the government should spend its money on, and then vote on which ideas are adopted.

Although participatory budgeting has become increasingly popular around the world in the past few years, it has so far been confined to cities and regions, and no country that we know of has attempted it nationwide. To reach as many people as possible, Portugal is also examining another innovation: letting people cast their votes via ATM machines.

Source: Portugal has announced the world’s first nationwide participatory budget | Apolitical

‘It’s about quality of life, it’s about the quality of public space, it’s about the quality of life for your children, it’s about your life, OK?’ Graça Fonseca, the minister responsible, told Apolitical. ‘And you have a huge deficit of trust between people and the institutions of democracy. That’s the point we’re starting from and, if you look around, Portugal is not an exception in that among Western societies. We need to build that trust and, in my opinion, it’s urgent. If you don’t do anything, in ten, twenty years you’ll have serious problems.’

Graça Fonseca doing publicity for the participatory budget

Graça Fonseca doing publicity for the participatory budget

Although the official window for proposals begins in January, some have already been submitted to the project’s website. One suggests equipping kindergartens with technology to teach children about robotics. Using the open-source platform Arduino, the plan is to let children play with the tech and so foster scientific understanding from the earliest age.

Proposals can be made in the areas of science, culture, agriculture and lifelong learning, and there will be more than forty events in the new year for people to present and discuss their ideas.

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(Pictures via Orçamento Participativo Portugal and Budget Participatif Paris)