Best Practice Examples

On this page you can find a list of selected participatory budgets that are often cited as good practice examples.

English

Launched in: 2002

Distinctive features:      

‘Wise old hand’ in PB, diversity and creativity in the design of procedures

The city of Hilden holds the German record for PB.  From 2002 to 2004 it took part in the ‘Municipal participatory budgeting’ pilot project of the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Ministry of the Interior of the German federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia. Since then, the city has continued to implement its municipal PB process consistently every year. It is thus responsible for the oldest and most continuous process of citizen participation in municipal budgeting anywhere in Germany. In Hilden, the idea of PB has become an integral part of the culture of policymaking and administration.

There is no ‘Hilden model’. What is in fact remarkable is the diversity of procedures that the city of Hilden has come up with over the years. As well as citizens’ forums and online participation (first launched in 2011), it has also pursued creative approaches. At the ‘Hildopoly’ information event in 2010, the city took a playful approach to communicating what funds it has to spend in order to deliver which services. As well as providing citizens with an opportunity to submit proposals on the municipal budget, there is also a special focus on the information phase.

Further information on PB in Hilden:

Documentation on PB in the city of Hilden since 2002: http://www.hilden.de/

Profile on the buergerhaushalt.org website: Profile

Launched in: 2007

Awards:     

Received the United Nations Public Sector Award (2008) for being a shining example of ‘Promoting participation in political decision-making processes through innovative mechanisms’

Received the European Public Sector Award (2009) for involving citizens significantly in budget planning through an innovative Internet platform

Ideas competition of NRW-Bank 2008

Awarded the audience prize at the E-Government Competition 2008 for Germany’s Federal, State and Local Governments

Distinctive features:

Online platform as the central channel of participation in a multi-channel process, low threshold for participation, rotating themes

The citizens of Cologne have been participating in the municipal budget since 2007. The ‘Cologne model’ has set a standard for numerous PB processes in Germany. Its key feature is the use of the Internet as the main channel in a multi-channel procedure. Using the website http://buergerhaushalt.stadt-koeln.de/, citizens can submit, discuss and rate their own and each other’s proposals. The provision of accountability and monitoring of implementation of the citizens’ proposals also take place online. The threshold for participating on the online platform is low, requiring only a username and a password. Citizens who do not have Internet access can submit proposals though a call centre or in writing. Thanks also to its intensive public relations work, Cologne achieved very high active participation rates of 11,000 and 14,000 in its first and second participatory budgets.

The PB process in Cologne is consultative and theme-based. Citizens can submit, comment on and rate proposals on expenditure and cost saving for specific budget areas. The council decides on the top proposals from the list of the best, and subsequently provides accountability.

Further information on PB in Cologne:

Online platform for PB in Cologne: http://buergerhaushalt.stadt-koeln.de/

Profile on the buergerhaushalt.org website: Profile

Launched in: 2010

Awards:         

European Public Sector Award (2011) for good governance in Europe

Distinctive features:          

Focus on saving costs

The Solingen participatory budget is known primarily for being an ‘austerity budget’. It focuses on consolidation. The city of Solingen, which has had to grapple with huge financial problems, faced the threat of bankruptcy in 2013. The decision to adopt PB meant that it was not going to discuss the issue of where costs could be cut behind closed doors. Under the slogan ‘Solingen spart’ [‘Solingen is cutting costs’], in 2010 citizens were able to participate in the planning of their municipal budget for the first time. Using the website www.solingen-spart.de, citizens submitted their own proposals for cutting costs and generating revenues, and commented on and rated proposals made by the local authority and other citizens. This launched a broad public debate on what cost-cutting measures were needed. In 2010 the municipality of Solingen, together with its citizens, drew up a package to save 44 million euros. After the success story of 2010, PB was repeated in 2012.

Further information on PB in Solingen:

Online platform: http://solingen-spart.de/

Profile on the buergerhaushalt.org website: Profile

Launched in: 2005

Awards:         

Received the European Public Sector Award (2007) for being a ‘Model for successful public administration in Europe’

Distinctive features:      

A complex, multi-channel process with a strong political commitment to implementing the proposals, and PB underpinned by legislation.

In 2005 the Berlin district of Lichtenberg became the first to introduce PB in any German city. Since then, the PB process conducted annually in Berlin-Lichtenberg has become an oft-cited example and a model for PB in Germany. The participatory budget of Berlin-Lichtenberg is cited chiefly because of the complex, multi-channel nature of the process. Neighbourhood dialogues, public meetings and a dedicated online platform enable the citizens of Lichtenberg to submit and discuss their own proposals. Citizens can vote either online, or face-to-face on the district-wide voting day. The procedure also includes a representative household poll. A total of 10,488 citizens took part in this PB process for 2013.

Decisions as to whether or not the proposals from the lists of the best are included in the budget itself are taken by the members of the district councillors’ meeting. The figures indicate that the elected representatives in Lichtenberg are clearly in favour of PB. Since it was introduced, they have incorporated 90% of the proposals from the lists of the best into the actual budget. A further exemplary feature is the legal institutionalisation of PB in the district administration law. Since July 2005, the district councillors’ meeting has been obliged to provide inhabitants with comprehensive opportunities for participation, and to inform them of their rights of participation.

Further information on PB in Berlin-Lichtenberg:

Online platform: http://www.buergerhaushalt-lichtenberg.de/

Profile on the buergerhaushalt.org website: Profile