Engaging Citizens in Governance: Lessons from Brazil’s Democratic Experiments
In the two decades since military rule ended in Brazil, there has been a remarkable flowering of new democratic practices and spaces for participation. Brazil’s 1988 ‘Citizens’ Constitution’ created the legal basis for some of the world’s most progressive democratic institutions. Democratic innovations such as participatory budgeting (orçamento participativo) have brought Brazil to the forefront of debates on tackling democratic deficits through participatory governance. Brazil’s social movements and left-wing political parties have played an active part in this process of democratisation, engaging citizens in making demands on the state and claiming their rights, and promoting new, expanded understandings of citizenship and democracy. This briefing discusses Brazil's experiences with participation in governance, and what lessons may be offered to other countries.