Articulation between Participation and Local Government. A Study of Participatory Budgets in Uruguay and Argentina

Prof. Mariano Suárez

The aim of the paper is to analyze the forms of articulation between the
participatory budget and the local political-representative institutions
(government and parties) in the experiences of the cities of Córdoba and
Gualeguaychú in Argentina, and Paysandú and Montevideo in Uruguay. A
theoretical analysis model with ideal types expressing possible forms of
articulation is presented in the first instance. Then, using the model
presented, the four cases are analyzed in two moments separated by a
local government election. The research question is: Under what
conditions does participatory budget work as a democratic instrument for
defining public affairs?

The research design is qualitative, comparative and longitudinal. The
findings analyzed were obtained from semi-structured interviews with
participatory budget technicians, policymakers and citizens
(participants and non-participants) at two points in time, before the
elections (in 2015) probing the functioning of the last edition of the
participatory budget and the political projections in the electoral
period, and after the elections (during 2016) in the first edition of
the new government. A total of 65 interviews were conducted.
Observations were also made in the assemblies of Gualeguaychú and
Córdoba during the 2016 edition, that is, the first edition of the new
government. In Montevideo, the design did not provide for assemblies,
and Paysandú had interrupted the annual cycle that year, so there was no
observation in those cities. Documents were also analyzed: participatory
budgeting regulations, government organizational charts, digital press
and electoral platforms of cadidates for Mayor.

Finally, it is pointed out, how in scenarios of plural participation and
restricted scope, greater institutionalization could generate an
incentive to gradually expand the scope.