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Reading: Geography and Participatory Democracy in Brazil: Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte Compared


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Geography and Participatory Democracy in Brazil: Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte Compared


Terence Wood ,

Development Resource Centre, NZ
About Terence
Terence Wood works for the Dev-Zone programme of the Development Resource  Centre. The Development Resource Centre is an NGO based in Wellington, New  Zealand which collects and produces information on development and global issues. Terence’s recent research work has focused primarily on the Millennium Development Goals in the Pacific and, in particular, on challenges facing the Pacific  Island countries as they strive to meet the Goals. This research will be published in  the forthcoming Otago University Publication: Millennium Development Goals in  an Insecure and Gendered World.
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Warwick E Murray

Victoria University of Wellington, NZ
About Warwick
Warwick Murray is a Reader in Human Geography and Development Studies at  Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is author of Geographies of  Globalization (Routledge 2006) and has written over 50 articles and chapters concerning geographies of development in Latin America and Pacific Islands. He is  also Founding Director of the Victoria Institute for Links with Latin America  (VILLA) and Editor-in-Chief of Asia Pacific Viewpoint. Currently he is researching comparative post neoliberal political-economic transitions in Latin America and the implications for social inequality and resource dependency.
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This paper examines the participatory budgeting  process that an increasing number of municipalities, primarily but not exclusively in Brazil, are  using as a tool of governance. Background is  provided on municipal governance in Brazil as  well as on the Partido dos Trabalhadores, the political party primarily responsible for introducing participatory budgeting. This is followed by a  comparison of the participatory budgets of two  Brazilian cities: Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte.  From this comparison we draw conclusions as to  how geography can condition the outcomes of  participatory budgeting processes. 

Resumen: Geografía y democracia participativa en Brasil:  Comparación entre Porto Alegre y Belo Horizonte 

Este artículo estudia el proceso de presupuestos  participativos que un número creciente de municipalidades, especialmente en Brasil, aunque no  exclusivamente, está utilizando como instrumento  de gobernabilidad. En el artículo se entrega información de fondo sobre los gobiernos municipales en Brasil y sobre el Partido de los Trabajadores, el partido político que es responsable de la  introducción del presupuesto participativo, para  posteriormente comparar los presupuestos participativos de dos ciudades brasileñas: Porto Alegre y  Belo Horizonte. Sobre la base de esta comparación sacamos conclusiones sobre cómo puede la  geografía condicionar el resultado de procesos de  presupuesto participativo.  

How to Cite: Wood, T., & Murray, W. E. (2007). Geography and Participatory Democracy in Brazil: Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte Compared. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, (83), 19–41. DOI:
Published on 15 Oct 2007.
Peer Reviewed


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