The Porto Alegre Alternative

The Porto Alegre Alternative : Direct Democracy in Action

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Porto Alegre in Brazil is famous as the city that pioneered a revolutionary kind of local democracy. Started over a decade ago by the municipal administration of the Brazilian Workers' Party (PT), this process -- called the 'participatory budget' -- has steadily attracted attention from around the world, including the UN and even the financial press. It was the main reason Porto Alegre came to host the first three World Social Forums in 2001, 2002 and 2003. This is the first book in English that allows the creators of the participatory budget to explain the process for themselves -- what it is, how it is achieved, what benefits it brings. Written by key figures from Porto Alegre -- including the former mayor and the head of the City Planning Office -- it provides a unique insight into the revolutionary democratic changes that have proved such a success. It is also a practical how-to-do-it guide that will help local communities and policy-makers put these ideas into action. The Porto Alegre experience shows that a truly different kind of political democracy is possible -- it presents a real alternative to the current model of liberal representative democracy that has been eroded by unelected transnational institutions and multinational corporations. This book shows how a more positive and genuinely democratic future is within our more

Product details

  • Paperback | 176 pages
  • 134 x 212 x 10mm | 240.41g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 2 figures
  • 0745320961
  • 9780745320960
  • 997,810

About Iain Bruce

Iain Bruce is a British journalist and film-maker. He has made documentaries for Channel 4 and the BBC. During 2004 and 2005 he was BBC correspondent in Caracas, Venezuela. Currently he is an adviser to Telesur, the Latin American news channel based in Venezuela. He is also author of the The Porto Alegre Alternative: Direct Democracy in Action (Pluto Press, 2004).show more

Review quote

Porto Alegre has a hallowed place in the imagination of the global justice movement. Most famous for its 'participatory budget', involving thousands of residents gathering to decide how their municipal money should be spent, this large Brazilian city was also the site, from 2001, of the first three World Social Forums. Iain Bruce's impressive collection is the first book-length study available in English of Porto Alegre's participatory political project. Refreshingly unwilling to romanticise its subject matter, it takes a robustly multifaceted approach. This means interrogating different interpretations of the budget (neoliberal consultancy exercise, revolutionary pipe dream or practical alternative?) and the specific Latin American context as well as detailing the intricate mechanics of how its participatory politics actually works. A must for those seriously interested in global democracy from the grassroots up. -- The Guardianshow more

Table of contents

List of Tables and Figures IIRE Notebooks for Study and Research Foreword Acknowledgements List of Abbreviations Prologue: The View from Below (Interview) Part I. The Participatory Budget - Origins, Aims and Ambiguities (Iain Bruce) 1. Participatory Democracy - The Debate 2. From First Steps to Final Strategies Part II. How It Works 3. Basic Principles (Ubiratan de Souza) 4. Porto Alegre: The City Budget (Andre Passos Cordeiro) 5. The PB in Two Other Cities (Interview with Edinho Silva; Pepe Vargas) 6. On a Bigger Scale: Rio Grande do Sul and nationwide (Ubiratan de Souza) Part III. What It Means 7. Participatory Democracy and Local Power (Raul Pont) 8. Theses on Local Government and the Struggle for Socialism (Raul Pont) 9. The Question of Democracy Today (Raul Pont) 10. Socialism and the PT's Experience in Local Government (Joao Machado) Notes Bibliography Indexshow more

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