What are points of criticism against participatory budgeting in Germany?

Although more and more local authorities in Germany are either introducing PB or at least discussing doing so, some municipalities have either discontinued the process or rejected the idea.

Opponents of PB see a number of problems:

1. Participation does not go far enough.
PB in Germany is pseudo-participatory. Although citizens can make proposals, they cannot take decisions.

2. Participation means that elected political representatives abdicate responsibility.
Politicians let citizens do their jobs for them. Some see this as an illegitimate rejection of responsibility, while others see it as a loss of decision-making authority that is not of the politicians’ own making.

3. PB undermines representative democracy.
Only a small minority of non-representative citizens are involved. Lobbyism is then inevitable, because the citizens who are involved pursue their own interests, not the common good.

4. When budgets are tight, the cost-benefit ratio is questionable.
PB is too time-consuming and too expensive, particularly in times of tight budgets. People can get involved and make proposals as they always have through political parties and associations, without participatory budgeting.

5. Citizens are not well qualified enough.
Citizens are not well qualified enough to make meaningful proposals. Budget planning is too complex for this. It must be performed by experts.

6. Wish lists create false expectations.
PB tends to generate wish lists and false expectations. The disappointment is then all the greater when these wishes cannot be fulfilled.

7. Disappointed citizens become more disenchanted with politics.
Disappointment causes citizens to become even more politically disillusioned. Rather than creating greater acceptance, it leads to frustration.

One interesting thing to note is that while some people think PB is not participatory enough, others think it goes too far.

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