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You decide, we make it: the participative budget of Águeda, Portugal

By Blandine Pidoux on 9 November 2017

At the crossroads of civic tech and local democracy, the participatory budget of our Portuguese member city of Águeda was recently put in the spotlight by the URBACT good practice labeling.

In a country where the government has announced the world’s first nationwide participatory budget, inspired by the experiences of its capital Lisbon, smaller Portuguese cities like Águeda or Cascais can benefit from nearby and inspiring examples to take the plunge.

In Águeda, since the creation of the initiative in 2015, more than 600 projects were submitted and more than 80.000 citizens participated, either in physical meetings or by electronic means, like civic tech applications. The initiative amounts to 500.000 euros in Agueda’s yearly public spending and has been integrated in all municipal services, with the strong implication of civil servants, very often on a voluntary basis.

The global context of the financial crisis, that highly affected Portugal, combined with the crisis of the representative democracy, gives even more value and importance to this type of initiative. By bringing citizens together to decide together on how the municipal budget should be spent, is one of the simple and concrete democratic solutions to restore a relationship of trust between the local community and the elected members. It also reinforces the idea of the common good: what do I want and choose as a member of the community, with the community and for the community? No doubt this kind of initiative makes people feel more concerned by the common wealth, and better recognised as fully active members of society.

The participatory budget of Águeda has also been an occasion for the municipality to foster the development of innovative civic tech solutions on its territory, thus stimulating both local economy and its engagement in smart city processes.

For further information, you can have a look at this presentation video:

and read a complete case study on the URBACT website providing key figures and a detailed description of the initiative.

Visit the official website of Águeda’s participative budget

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