Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Grassroots Democracy Project Highlighted on Election Day

November 3, 2010

Gianpaolo Baiocchi in Chicago

How does participatory budgeting work? How well does it work? Institute Associate Professor Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Chicago City Alderman Joe Moore reflected on WBEZ Radio recently on this grassroots democratic process in the city’s 49th Ward.

Some 1,650 people directly determined which capital improvement projects would be funded by their tax dollars. Citizens on the radio program praised the process; Moore called it “amazingly successful.” While the approach has not always worked in all of its 1,000 implementations worldwide, it has registered many successes, Baiocchi said, adding: “we had kind of a perfect storm in the 49th Ward.”