To the Editor,
Re: Compulsory democracy worth a try, Wright Turn, Jan. 15.
‘Compulsory democracy’ is a contradiction in terms. But managing editor Mitch Wright is correct in proposing that voters need a more explicit way of exercising their democratic birthright.
Indeed, there are proven methods on record, such as that practised in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.
For many years, the citizens of Porto Alegre have been making direct decisions over their municipal budget, and since the 1970s their involvement in administration has been on the increase.
To quote from a case study of the system:
“Participatory budgeting, in which citizens take part in the budgetary decision-making process…” (gives) an additional boost to the concept of participatory neighbourhoods, allowing many municipalities to improve their financial situation.
Further, Porto Alegre has the highest standard of living and the highest life expectancy of any Brazilian city. Participatory budgeting has increased government transparency.
So, let’s try a proven method of citizen involvement and control over the democratic process.
Thanks, Mr. Editor, for opening up this key issue of citizen involvement.
David J. Weston