Citizens in Portugal vote on how public funding is spent on national and regional projects, in the world’s first participatory budgeting scheme of its kind.

The project is led by the Administrative Modernisation Agency to build trust among citizens and bring them into government. It was awarded the Best Citizen Engagement award at the recent Innovation Labs World hosted by GovInsider.

The Portugal Participatory Budget (PPB) allows citizens to present investment proposals and then choose, through transparent and open voting, which projects should be funded and implemented.

The budgeting process has two main phases: citizens first present budget proposals via the PPB’s online portal or in person at participative meetings held across Portugal. Next, in the voting phase, citizens can vote twice: once for regional projects, and another for national projects, either through the online portal or via a free SMS.

With participative meetings, rural populations, which are traditionally not heard, now have now an open channel to directly participate in the policy-making process. The budget “has the potential for becoming an essential tool in creating national networks, integrating coastline and interior areas, as well as rural and urban areas, since it incorporates groups of proposals with different territory scope – regional and nationwide,” says Ana Cláudia Pereira, International Relations Specialist at AMA.

The first edition of the PPB last year gathered 1,015 citizens ideas for projects and initiatives. The process gathered 78,815 votes from Portuguese citizens, with 38 winning projects to be implemented by the government and different public entities.

The PPB, now in its second edition, has received 1,418 proposals and 692 voting projects, far surpassing its 2017 numbers.

Image from Pedro Ribeiro Simões on FlickrCC BY 2.0