Sharpen The Focus: Identify Process Steps Of Participatory Budgeting #EmPaci

Following a Status Quo Analysis of participatory budgeting (PB) in the Baltic Sea Region, the “Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region” (EmPaci) project introduces its second project output targeting administrative staff, local councillors and other decision-makers in local governments in the BSR. The document “PB Type Groups” aims to provide insights into design principles of PB and to reflect on ideas for how PB can be implemented based on specific preconditions of the municipality and its citizenry.

The background for Participatory budgeting evolution is as follows: Since the 1980s the number of participatory budget initiatives rose and currently thousands of different processes are implemented around the world. None of them is like another again, and the differences are in the details. Therefore, categorisation is difficult but necessary, in order not to “get lost in a thousand and one examples”.[1]

The all-round categorisation is impossible. Therefore, this document takes a different approach and sets up a “construction kit” that provides more detailed information about factors related to citizens and the municipality that influences the possible PB-process phases.[2] The contribution lies in the short guidance tables and the resulting “PB type group construction kit” table. To show the application, the construction kit table is filled with the case of the successful PB process of Stuttgart.

The provided overviews raise awareness of complex issues in PB implementation. Practitioners will get advice on many important questions, such as:

  • Which phases are possible for a PB process?
  • At which phases do legal restrictions influence the process design?
  • Despite lower financial resources, what are the cost-effective actions to perform?
  • What are the topics for specific citizen groups?
  • What do possible proposal restrictions look like?
  • What should a project team for PB look like? Could citizens be included in the project team?
  • Is the workload for the administration staff considered?
  • Why is feasibility check important?
  • When should the feasibility check of the proposals be performed?
  • What is the possible timeline for the process steps?
  • Which incentives are possible to encourage high participation?
  • When is feedback possible?
  • After everything, is the transparency of the whole PB process ensured?

Even if there is no advice in a specific field of the construction kit table (yet), it is open for expansion and raises the question for every user and practitioner: “Should I think about this? Is this field really empty?”

[1]Sintomer/Herzberg/Allegretti/Röcke (2012), p. 5, “Participatory Budgeting Worldwide”, URL:

[2]Based on a literature research and interviews with PB practitioners.