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When Does Participatory Democracy Deepen the Quality of Democracy? Lessons from Brazil

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How and where do participatory institutions contribute to the deepening of democracy? Substantial variation in the outcomes produced by participatory institutions is best explained by the incentives of elected governments to delegate authority and the capacity of civil society organizations to use contentious politics in and outside of these institutions. In eight cases of Brazil's participatory budgeting program, two municipalities produced strong results; two other municipalities produced failed programs; and four municipalities produced mixed, somewhat contradictory results. Failed programs can have a pernicious effect on efforts to deepen democracy, while the most successful programs improve the quality of local democratic processes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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