The Participatory Budget of Funchal is an instrument for citizens to have a direct say in the spending of taxpayers’ money. The aim is to strengthen local democracy, increase the transparency of municipal administration, and improve the trust between the municipality and the citizens.
All individuals, aged 15 years and over, can participate and promote ideas. The citizens attend one of the “Participation Meetings” that the City Hall organizes in different points of the city in May/June; then they can vote in the final public vote of all the projects in October.
The “proposal” meetings take place between 10 May and 9 June, every Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm, at several public spaces in Funchal. It is up to the citizens to present, discuss and vote the proposals.
In these meetings, the participants will be organized into working groups, where they can present, discuss and prioritize proposals. The two proposals chosen at each table go to the plenary stage, where they will be voted again, this time by all citizens present. The proposals that are selected (minimum of 1, maximum of 5, depending on the number of participants in each meeting) are sent to the City Hall’s technical department for analysis and cost calculation.
After the technical analysis, the final step is the final public vote during the month of October, with fixed polling stations throughout the city. Each participant has the right to vote in two projects, through personal and face-to-face voting. The City Council has to execute the winning projects within a maximum period of 18 months. In 2015, a concerted action by youngsters got them a skate park in Funchal.
In 2014/15, Funchal was the first city on Madeira Island to implement a Participatory Budget, the amount spent in 2016 was 500.000€. Câmara de Lobos is set to follow this example this year.
Ursula M. Hahn – info at madeira-weekly.com