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Verknüpfung dialogischer und direkter Demokratie durch Bürgerhaushalt

Inwieweit können mit Hilfe des Bürgerhaushalts deliberative (dialogische) Demokratie und direkte Demokratie verknüpft werden? Dieser Frage geht eine Studie der amerikanischen Non-Profit-Organisation Public Agenda nach.

As twenty-first century citizens have demanded a greater say in the policies that affect their lives, two kinds of public engagement have emerged to accommodate them: deliberative democracy, in which people discuss issues but usually do not make public decisions directly, and direct democracy, in which they make public decisions at the ballot box but usually don’t have to discuss them first. Deliberative democracy gives people a voice; direct democracy gives them a vote. With the rapid expansion of participatory budgeting in North America, how best to balance these two opportunities has become a major concern, and it poses a key question in attempts to make democracy more participatory, equitable and effective.
The two approaches to engagement reflect different—though potentially compatible— assumptions about the role of ordinary people in public life. In deliberative democracy, citizens become informed about an issue, talk about their concerns and goals, weigh different policy options and find common ground. They may give policy input to public officials, develop action ideas for implementation by other people and organizations or work to implement ideas themselves, or they may engage in some combination of the three. Advocates of deliberative democracy believe in the potential of citizens to be effective learners, advisors and volunteers.
In direct democracy, people have the opportunity to vote on policy questions through initiatives and referenda. Advocates of direct democracy believe in the potential of citizens to be effective public decision makers.
Direct democracy is entrenched in the U.S. legal system, mostly by state and local laws that govern when and how initiatives and referenda can be put on the ballot. Deliberative democracy, on the other hand, is not an official or legal component of governance; rather, it is an ad hoc, usually temporary strategy used by public officials and other leaders when they see the need for it.
Deliberative democracy has produced many instances in which the informed, common-ground recommendations of participants did not seem to affect policy or lead to other kinds of problem solving. These kinds of experiences can leave citizens frustrated and may deepen popular mistrust of government. Similarly, examples of direct democracy have occurred in which voters seemed to make uninformed, ill-considered decisions that might harm not only the common good, but their own interests. The most notorious recent example is the United Kingdom’s vote to exit the European Union, known as Brexit, the results of which may have profound and long-lasting ill effects on the UK economy. Immediately after the vote, websites explaining its potential consequences received huge numbers of hits, and many citizens have expressed remorse at having voted “yes” on the initiative.
From its inception in Brazil in 1989, participatory budgeting (PB) has incorporated, to varying degrees, both forms of engagement. The steering committee meetings and neighborhood assemblies that occur at the beginning of the PB cycle, the delegate meetings that take place during the proposal development phase, and the idea expos held before the final vote can be (but are not always) deliberative; the vote on the proposed ideas at the end of the cycle exemplifies direct democracy.
This report will examine the extent to which North American PB processes are applying deliberative principles and practices, explore the tensions and challenges in making PB more deliberative, suggest questions for further research and offer recommendations for public officials and practitioners for improving their PB processes.

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