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Greater Public Participation Improves democratic Governance

Improvisation of Democratic Governance through Public Participation

I.

Introduction

In recent decades, the issue of public participation has become popular in many
decision-making process discourses. Public participation can be defined as the
redistribution of power among stakeholders in the political and economic process
to determine the development policy (Arnstein (1969 p1). Public participation
implies that publics involvement would influence the decisions results (Rowe and
Fewer (2005 p.251)). In addition, the principle of empowerment through public
participation shows that this form of participation plays vital role in democratic
governance.
Public participation is regarded as important aspect in the decision-making
process since there was a failure in the central policies to overcome the problems at
grassroots level. Sanderock (1983 p 85) mentions that there will be no real
socioeconomic change at lowest level if the development policies ignore public
involvement. He also points out that over-centralism government policies and
unresponsive public authorities are the strong reasons why public participation is
needed to achieve the development objectives.
In recent decades, the issue of public participation is becoming popular in the many
discourses about the decision-making process. Arnstein (1969 p1) states that citizen
participation means the redistribution of power among stakeholders in the political and
economic process to determine the policy for development. Rowe and Fewer (2005
p.251) adds that public participation is to involve the community in decision-making
processes in the organizations / institutions to determine the development policy. The
importance of public participation in decision making process has become concern after
the failure of many central policies to overcome the problem at grassroot level.
Sanderock (1983 p 85) mentions that there will be no real socioeconomic change at
lowest level if the development policies ignoring public involvement. He also points out
that over-centralism government policies and unresponsive public authorities are the

strong reasons why public participation is needed to achieve the development


objectives.
There is a shifting paradigm in the decision-making process in an institution /
organization in which the civil society is no longer become a target of government
policies but may take part to participate in the developments programs and
projects. Civil society should be the policy makers or agents of change rather than
as the targets or "victims of welfare colonialism" of an organization's decisionmaking process (Sanderock (1983 p 81). Public participation is not real if the
community is only being positioned as a rubberstamp of the government policies /
programs (Arnstein (1969 p3).
There is a shifting paradigm in the decision-making process in an institution /
organization, the civil society is no longer become a target of government policies but
having an important role in the decision making process. Sanderock (1983 p 81) states
that the civil society should be the policy makers or agents of change rather than as the
targets or "victims of welfare colonialism" of an organization's decision-making
process. Arnstein (1969 p3) argues that it is not the real public participation if the
community is only positioned as a rubberstamp of the government policies / programs.
Aku bingung pas part ini.. lagi bicarain public participation.. kok tiba2 berubah jadi
kenapa pentingnya democratic governance. Hubungan antar paragrafnya jadi kurang
nyambung ki... Paragraf 1: definisi partisipasi public, paragraph 2: alsan kenapa itu
penting. Paragraph 3: perubahan paradigm dalam decision making process. Pargaraf 4
nya kok tiba2 pentingnya democratic govt. Mungkin perlu sedikit dikasi kalimat
penyambung biar enak masuk ke kenapa pentingnya democratic govt. Lagian ini juga
perlu sedikit koreksian. Menurutku ya, introduction itu menjelaskan latar belakang
mengenai kenapa partsipasi public bisa mengimprove democratic govt, tapi disini belum
keliatan. Trus di paragraph bawah ki malah kebalik the goal of democratic governance
is to improve the community's role in decision-making, (jadinya ga sesuai judul kalo
kalimatnya ini)
The shifting paradigm from centralization to decentralization of power and democratic
governance is inevitable reality in the past few years. Cheema (2011 p 6) points out
there are two fundamental reasons why democratic governance system has to be
undertaken in modern era. The first, democratic governance enhance the participation

of all citizens in the decision making process. The second is the democratic governance
promotes universal values such as freedom of expression, equality, as well as free
access on the independent information. Strengthening public participation in policy
making is one of the objectives of democratic governance. Cheema (2011 p 6) says that
the goal of democratic governance is to improve the community's role in decisionmaking, increase transparency and accountability and strengthening law enforcement. In
realizing democratic governance, Souza (2010 p 160) mentions that increasing public
participation will strengthen the democracy.
In order to explain about the role of public participation in the improvisation of
democratic governance, this article would illustrate the case study from
participatory budgeting in Porte Alegre, Brazil. There are two main focuses will be
discussed here. The first is the public participation through participatory
budgeting and the second is the benefits of participatory budgeting in term of
achieving democratic governance.
This article will take a case study of participatory budgeting in Porte Alegre, Brazil.
There are two main focuses will be discussed, the first is the public participation
towards the greater democratic governance through participatory budgeting. Second,
The benefits of participatory budgeting in terms achieving democratic governance

II.

Participatory Budgeting: A case of Porto Alegre

Achieving Democratic Governance through Public Participation


Participatory budgeting is a democratic process that involves the citizens in
managing their local budget. Participatory budgeting is conducted to absorb
communitys aspirations who are not represented in the government or the
parliament. The community is assumed to have better understanding on their own
problems than local authority (Vincent (2010 P35).
Porto Alegre is one of the city in Brazil that has experienced more than 25 years on
implementing the participatory budgeting in financial management at the local
level as the impact of political and economic decentralization. Participatory
budgeting in Brazil were carried out for three main reasons (Souza (2010 p.161).

Firstly, the level of public participation in Brazil is high even before the era of redemocratization in the early 1980s. Secondly, the increase in local revenue means
the increase of fund that should be distributed in all districts. Therefore, public
initiatives are required to improve the quality of financial allocation in the region.
The third is the growing number of leftist parties in local government and
parliament who are concerns on participatory programs.
Porto Alegre is one of the cities in Brazil that having experience for more than 25 years
on implementing the participatory budgeting in financial management at the local level
as the impact of political and economic decentralization. Vincent (2010 P35) states that
participatory budgeting is a democratic process that involves the citizens participation to
manage their local budget. He also mentions that the participatory budgeting is
conducted to absorb community aspirations who are not represented in the government
or the parliament. The community is assumed having better understanding to their own
problems than local authority. Souza (2010 p.161) argues that participatory budgeting in
Brazil carried out for three main reasons. First, the level of public participation in Brazil
is high even before the era of redemocratization in the early 1980s. Secondly, the
increase in local revenue means the increase of fund that should be distributed in all
districts, therefore public initiatives are required to improve the quality of financial
allocation in the region. The third is the growing numbers of leftist parties in local
government and parliament who are concerns on participatory programs enhance the
public participation on decision making process.
In term of achieving a better democracy, the decision making process should be
responsive and representative. Prachet (1999 p ) points out that the responsiveness
has to cover three major issues, which are the full range of issues/concerns raised
in community, the level of organization involved in decision-making as well as
public participation. The main principles of responsiveness are an adaptation of
local conditions, the support of local leaders and experts, and also the strong
mobilization of activity and local NGOs in decision making (ini kalimatnya aneh,
maksudmu sebenarnya apa) (Polko (2015 p 36). Another requirement of better
democracy is representative. Representative means that decision-making process
has to represent all participants from area covered, all socio economic groups, as
well as the representation of all political views (Prachet 1999 p)

In terms of achieving a better democracy, the decision making process should be


responsive and representative. Prachet (1999 p ) points out that the responsiveness has
to cover three major issues, which are the full range issues/concerns raised in
community, the level of organization involved in decision-making as well as the public
participation influences in the decision-making process. Polko (2015 p 36) also
mentions that the main principle of responsiveness is an adaptation of local conditions,
the support of local leaders and experts, as well as the strong mobilization of activies
and local NGOs in decision making. While the representative has to represent all
participants from area covered, all socio economic groups, as well as the representation
of all political views (Prachet 1999 p)
In the context of participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, responsiveness is
manifested by determining the local problems / concerns that will be a priority in
the local budget allocation. Public will set several issues raised in the region based
on the official meeting delegates / participants initiatives (Souza (2010 p.). Each
participant has five issues that should be proposed into local budget by making
priority in each issue. The top issue will be graded as five and the least issue as one.
The accumulation of the issues from all participants will be ranked to determine
the priority programs that should be included in the local budget.
Responsiveness is related to the level of involvement of organizations / institutions
in the decision making process. Pratchet (2010 p) states that the higher the position
of the decision making authority who involve in the decision making process the
more responsive the resulted decisions. In case of participatory budgeting process
in Porto Alegre city, the mayor attends the decision making process as the
manifestation of high level of bureaucracy. The presence of these high level
bureaucrats is expected to respond what the broader community concerns about
the local conditions (Souza 2010 p).
Responsiveness is also associated to public influence in decision-making process
which could obviously be seen in the first participatory budget meeting in 1989. At
that time, the administrations authority as a representation of local government
thought that public transport was a major concern to develop in Porto Alegre.
However, most participants from local community addressed that water supply

and sewerage infrastructure were the top priorities projects to be constructed.


Disini penjelasannya aga menggantung, karena tidak dijelaskan apakah pendapat
masyarakat diakomodir opo engga. It means that citizens participation has a
significant effect on decision making process.
In the context of participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, responsiveness in terms of
local issues is manifested by determining the local problems / concerns that will be a
priority in the local budget allocation. Souza (2010 p.) shows that the public will set
several issues raised in the region based on the official meeting delegates / participants
initiatives. Every participant has five issues that should be suggested into local budget
by making priorities in each issue. The top issue will be graded five and the least issue
will be graded one. The accumulation of the issues from all participants will be ranked
to determine the priority that should be included in the local budget. The second, related
to the level of involvement of organizations / institutions in the decision making
process, Pratchet (2010 p) states that the higher the position of the decision making
authority who involve in the decision making process the more responsive the decision
will be resulted. In terms of participatory budgeting process in Porto Alegre, the high
level of bureaucracy as well as the mayor of Porto Alegre are attending in the decision
making process. The presence of these high level bureaucrats is expected to respond
what the broader community concerns about the local conditions (Souza 2010 p). The
third, related to public influence in decision making process could be obviously seen in
the first participatory budget meeting in 1989. In that time, the administration authority
represent local government thought that public transport is a major concern to develop
in Porto Alegre, however, most participants from local community addressed that water
supply and sewerage infrastructure become top priorities to be constructed. It means
that citizens participation has a significant effect on decision making process.
Representative in the context of participatory budgeting is demonstrated by
representatives from each district in Porto Alegre. There are 16 districts in Porto
Alegre and each district sends delegates with five issues that will be proposed in the
official meeting of the budget-making process (Souza (2010 p 166). Representatives
also can be seen from the representation of socio economic groups. (Abers (1998)
mentions that 40 percent of the delegates attending the budget official meeting
came from low income group, 40 percent from the middle class, while the rest are
the high income. He also stated that 42 percent of participants did not complete

basic education and only 12 percent have a high educational level. Participatory
budgeting in Porto Alegre also accommodates all the existing political views.
Santos (1998) stated that the number of participants in the participatory
budgeting process come from 300 grassroots movement. Arbers (1998) adds that 60
percent of participants come from 6 districts with protest-based neighborhood
activism history, while 40 percent of participants came from 10 districts have no
history of the protest movements.
(Sub ini penjelasannya sudah panjang lebar, tapi kurang menonjulkan kaitannya
dengan achieving democratic governance). Mungkin bisa sedikit lebih diulas.

While representative in the context of participatory budgeting is demonstrated by


representatives from each district in Porto Alegre. Souza (2010 p 166) shows that there
are 16 districts in Porto Alegre and each district send delegates with five issues that will
be proposed in the official meeting in the budget making process. Secondly,
representation from all socio economic groups mentioned by Abers (1998) that 40
percent of the delegates attending the budget official meeting comes from low income
group, 40 percent come from the middle class, while the rest of the high-income. He
also stated that 42 percent of participants did not complete basic education and only 12
percent have a high educational level. Third, participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre
also accommodates all the existing political views. Santos (1998) stated that the
number of participants in the participatory budgeting process come from 300 grassroots
movement. Arbers (1998) adds that 60 percent of participants come from 6 districts with
protest-based neighborhood activism history, while 40 percent of participants came
from 10 districts have no history of the protest movement
The Benefits of Participatory Budgeting in Terms of Democratic Governance
The practice of participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre has three benefits in term
of achieving greater democracy governance. The first is transparency in decision
making. Souza (2010 p 169) states that through public participation in budgeting
systems, there is no longer monopoly from a few bureaucrats and politicians that
tends to lead to corruption and secrecy. The transparency of decision-making
procedure will provide greater access for citizens to monitor the process of budget

-making (Polko (2015 P36). The second is to increase local government


accountability. Santos (1998) states that based on the survey in 1995, the level of
public satisfaction to local government accountability increased up to 70 percent
due to the transparency and responsiveness from local government on budgetmaking process since participatory budget system was conducted from the end of
1980s. The third is the increase of the local government legitimacy. Polko (2015 p
36) argues that the resulting budget is the representation of the communitys
decision, therefore local governments have a strong legitimacy to obtain budget
approval from the parliament.
The practice of participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre has three benefits in terms of
achieving greater democracy governance. The first is transparency in decision making.
Souza (2010 p 169) states there is no longer monopoly from a few bureaucrats and
politicians in the budget-making that tends leading to corruption and secrecy. Polko
(2015 P36) points out that the transparency of decision making procedure will provide
the greater access for citizens to monitor the process of budget making. The second is to
increase local government accountability. Santos (1998) states that based on the 1995
survey, the level of public satisfaction level to local government accountability increase
up to 70 percent due to the transparency and responsiveness from local government on
budget making process since participatory budget was conducted in the end of 1980s.
The third is the increase of the local government legitimacy. Polko (2015 p 36) argues
that the resulting budget is the representation of the community decision, therefore local
governments have a strong legitimacy to obtain budget approval from the parliament.

III.

Conclusion

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