At the same time as democracy has 'triumphed' in most of the world, it leaves many unsatisfied at the disjuncture between the democratic ideal and its practical expression. Participatory practices and institutions, as exemplified in the participatory budgeting process of the local government of Porto Alegre in Brazil, claim to embody a more substantive version of democracy that can settle this deficit. This article interrogates this promise through examining closely the case of Porto Alegre. In addition to demonstrating clear democratic outcomes, this examination also reveals that the meaning of democratic deepening is not cashed out exclusively in terms of participation but in terms of representation too. More specifically, participatory budgeting serves to broaden representation in the budgeting process as a whole, by better including and amplifying the voice of marginalised groups in aspects of the budgeting process, albeit through participatory practices and events. On reflection this should not be surprising as participatory budgeting introduces new decision-making procedures that supplement rather than replace existing representative institutions, and reform rather than transform expenditure patterns. Thus although termed participatory, at the level of the municipal system as a whole, participatory institutions assist in better representing the interests of marginalised groups in decision-making through participatory means. Deepening democracy, therefore, at least as far as new participatory institutions are concerned, is about new forms of representation and participation, rather than replacing representation with participation.
The Case of Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil
Allan C. Hutchinson and Joel Colón-Ríos
The relationship between democracy and constitutions is a long and fractious one. Those who lean towards the constitutionalist side have tended to perceive democracy as a threat to political order and the preservation of important values, whereas those who take a more democratist stance tend to treat constitutions as elite hindrances to popular rule as much as anything else. In this paper, we will give the constitutionalist thesis a broader theoretical and political scrutiny. By way of explanation, we will address and recommend the possibilities and problems for putting into practical operation such an anti-constitutionalist stance; the recent experience of the U.S. State of California offers itself as a good forcing-ground for these ideas. In short, from a democratic standpoint, the challenge for the citizenry is not so much about defining the values of constitutions, but constitutions whose change is outside the scope of popular decision making, supposed to exclusively take place through judicial interpretation or through an amendment formula designed precisely to make change difficult and unlikely. Too often, constitutions place checks and limits on democratic participation in the name of some other set of vaunted truths or elite-favouring values. For the strong democrat, it is formal constitutions and their institutional paraphernalia that do more to inhibit and dull democracy's emancipatory potential than to nurture and fulfil it.
Declining adolescent political participation means that political education has become a pressing public and political issue. In response, much attention is being paid to the way in which political education offers meaningful reasons for individual political participation. Critical textbook analysis may help us understand how political education affects participation. To what extent do textbooks explicitly present justifications for political participation? What kinds of justification are offered? This article analyzes Norwegian social studies textbooks, and concludes that justifications of adolescent political participation are central. Justifications include the individual pursuit of preferences, individual duty in a "contract" with the state, and identities. However, these justifications are also questionable, for they are generally either individualistic or avoid real political movements.
Céline Braconnier and Jean-Yves Dormagen
The presidential election of 2012 produced a high turn-out. Only 20 percent of the electorate abstained. This significant mobilization, however, hides renewed social inequalities in political participation that seemed to have previously disappeared. Based on national and local data surveys, this paper shows that certain kinds of people are less likely to vote than the average citizen. While traditionally more prone to abstain than other voters, many young, poorly educated, and suburban people participated in the presidential election in 2007, but not in 2012. In this later case, they seem to have not been interested in the electoral campaign.
A Place For Public Action And Civic Engagement in Deliberative Democracy
Steven Douglas Maloney and Joshua A. Miller
In this paper, we argue that deliberative democrats have too narrow a conception of the political, but that 'activism' as it is normally understood is not sufficiently broad, either. Politics is not reducible to coercion and contestation, but rather to the constitution of our shared world. We contend that active citizenship more often takes the form of working in a rape crisis center or a domestic violence clinic than participating in marches or town meetings.
Thomas W. Pogge
Winston Churchill is quoted as saying that “democracy is the worst possible form of government except – all the others that have been tried”. This thought may stimulate efforts to overcome the defects of democracy through the exploration of as yet untried alternatives superior to democracy. In our time, however, an effort to overcome these defects through the exploration of as yet untried superior forms of democracy seems far more promising. Despite their multi-dimensional diversity, existing democratic regimes are scattered over a minuscule sector of the space of possible democratic structures. It cannot be said that experience and reflection have produced convergence upon this sector. Most of the other possibilities have never been tried or discussed. Indeed, many could not have been tried or discussed because they are becoming feasible only now, in the dawning information age. It is not, then, good reasons that keep practice and reflection within the narrow sector, but habit and entrenchment. We are deeply accustomed to the conventional forms of democracy. And politicians successful under prevailing rules tend to be hostile to any significant reforms. But this should not stop the rest of us from at least thinking about alternatives.
Germany's parliamentary democracy appears to be in crisis. The major parties' membership is in decline and barely existing in East Germany, election turnout is decreasing at all levels, and the reputation of politicians has never been worse. At the same time, however, Germans are more interested in politics than in the 1990s, overwhelmingly support democracy, and are keen on participating particularly in local political decision making. Out of this situation emerged www.abgeordnetenwatch.de— a website that aims to re-establish the link between electors and elected by allowing voters and representatives to communicate via a publicly accessible question-andanswer structure. This article addresses the questions of whether such an instrument can revitalize representative democracy and whether it has done so in the context of the 2009 federal elections.
Habitual Voting, Political Alienation and Spectatorship
Anthony Lawrence A. Borja
on electoral participation as voter turnout, 1 this article will look at the challenges to democratisation posed by spectatorship as a predominant form of citizenship in contemporary mass democracies. To begin with, through her studies on American
Salian Women’s Religious Patronage
the holy mother of God, Mary” on account of the “intervention of our mother Agnes, august empress.” 15 All of these charters emphasize the participation, perhaps even orchestration, of the Salian women in the patronage of Speyer Cathedral in an effort
dimension. These values are: representation, directness, participation, equality, pluralism, and deliberation. Each of these value dimensions can be seen as capturing a meaning of democracy qua popular rule; the capacity of the ‘people’ to have their