This paper presents an account of the emergence of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, based on information collected during six months of field research carried out in April-September 2003. The aim is to trace the conditions and context within which this was established. This is of particular interest in view of the fact that PB in Buenos Aires was implemented in the midst of the recent crisis known as the Argentinazo, which arguably constituted an unlikely moment for its realisation. The paper begins with some theoretical considerations concerning the nature of empowered deliberative democracy in general, highlighting the emerging consensus about the necessary presence of strong programmatic political parties in order for such initiatives to be effectively implemented, which points to the importance of local political dynamics. Background to the crisis in Argentina is then provided, in order to situate the context within which PB was instituted and show how the conditions theoretically needed for its emergence were effectively absent. This is followed with a detailed account of the politics surrounding PB in Buenos Aires, delineating the contours of its 'political field', and showing how and why different actors within this field interacted with each other in relation to the implementation and administration of PB during 2002-2004.
Rodgers, D. Working Paper No. 61. Unintentional Democratisation? The Argentinazo and the Politics of Participatory Budgeting in Buenos Aires, 2001-2004. (2005) 35 pp.