The Politics of Local Participatory Democracy in Latin America: Institutions, Actors, and Interactions 9780804796576

Participatory democracy innovations aimed at bringing citizens back into local governance processes are now at the core

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The Politics of Local Participatory Democracy in Latin America: Institutions, Actors, and Interactions

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The Politics of Local Participatory Democracy in Latin America

The Politics of Local Participatory Democracy in Latin America institutions, actors, a nd inter actions

Françoise Montambeault

stanford university press stanford, california

Stanford University Press Stanford, California © 2016 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system without the prior written permission of Stanford University Press. Printed in the United States of America on acid-­free, archival-­quality paper. Library of Congress Cataloging-­in-­Publication Data Montambeault, Françoise, author.   The politics of local participatory democracy in Latin America : institutions, actors, and interactions / Françoise Montambeault.   pages cm   Includes bibliographical references and index.  ISBN 978-0-8047-9516-6 (cloth : alk. paper)  1. Local government—Mexico—Citizen participation—Case studies. 2. Democracy— Mexico—Case studies. 3. Local government—Brazil—Citizen participation—Case studies. 4. Democracy—Brazil—Case studies. I. Title.  JS2117.A2M66 2015  323'.0420972—dc23                               2015011255 ISBN 978-0-8047-9657-6 (electronic)

To Victor and Elsa


List of Abbreviations


Acknowledgments xiii

1. Introduction


2. How Does Success Vary? Redefining Democratic Success


3. Why Do Cases Vary? A Comparative Approach


4. Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl: Participatory Democracy or Clientelistic Participation?


5. León: Participation as Fragmented Inclusion


6. Recife: From Clientelism to Disempowering Cooption


7. Belo Horizonte: The Route Toward Democratic Cooperation?


8. Conclusion: Comparative Lessons for Participatory Democracy Theory









ABM Associação Brasileira dos Municipios (Brazilian Municipalities Association) ABONG Associação Brasileira de Organizações Não-Governamentais (Brazilian Association of Non-Governmental Organizations) ADC Associações de Defesa Coletiva (Collective Defense Associations) ANC Assembléia Nacional Constituinte (Constituent National Assembly) AMMAC Asociación de los Municipios de México, A.C. (Association of Mexican Municipalities) ARENA Aliança Renovadora Nacional (Alliance for National Renewal) CDS

Convenio de Desarrollo Social (Social Development Agreement)

CDP Comités Democráticos e Populares de Bairros (Popular and Democratic Neighborhood Committees)

CEB Comunidades Eclesiais de Base (Basic Ecclesial Communities) CNC

Confederación Nacional Campesina (National Peasants Confederation)


Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Populares (National Confederation of Popular Organizations)


Central the Comercientes y Colonos Estabelecidos (Central of Established Businesses and Residents)

CODEMUN Consejo de Desarrollo Municipal (Municipal Development Council) COMFORÇA Comissão de Acompanhamento e Fiscalização da Execução do Orçamento Participativo (Commission of Budget Oversight and Monitoring) COMUL Comissão de Urbanização e Legalização da Posse da Terra (Local Commission for the Tenure Regularization and Urbanization)




Consejo Nacional de Acción Popular (National Council for Popular Action)

COP Conselho do Orçamento Participativo (Participatory Budgeting Council) COPACI Consejos de Participación Ciudadana (Citizen Participation Councils) COPLADE

Comité para la Planeación del Desarrollo Estatal (State Development Planning Committee)

COPLADEM, COPLADEMUN  Comité para la Planeación del Desarrollo Municipal (Municipal Planning and Development Committee)


Civil Society Organizations

CTM Confederación de Trabajadores Mexicanos (Confederation of Mexican Workers) CUD Convenio Unico de Desarrollo (Unique Development Agreement) DEM Partido Democráta (Democratic Party) DF Distrito Federal (Federal District) EZLN Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) FAISM Fondo de Aportaciones para la Infraestructura Social Municipal (Grant Fund for Municipal Social Infrastructure) FOCCEM

Federación de Organizaciones de Colonos y Comerciantes del Estado de México (Federation of Neighbors and Business Organizations of the State of Mexico)

FORTAMUN Fondo de Aportaciones para el Fortalecimiento de los Municipios (Grant Fund for Municipal Strengthening) FPI Frente Popular Independiente (Independent Popular Front) FUN Frente Unico de Neza (Unique Front of Neza) IBAM Instituto Brasileiro de Administração Municipal (Brazilian Institute for Municipal Administration)


International Monetary Fund

IMPLAN Instituto Municipal de Planeación (Municipal Planning Institute) INAFED Instituto Nacional para el Federalismo y el Desarrollo Municipal (National Institute for Federalism and Municipal Development) INDESOL

Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo Social (National Institute for Social Development)

INEGI Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía y Informática (National Institute for Statistics, Geography, and Information)



IQVU Indice de Qualidade de Vida Urbana (Urban Quality of Life Indicator) MDB

Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (Brazilian Democratic Movement)

MLN Movimiento de Lucha en Nezahualcóyotl (Movement for Struggle in Nezahualcóyotl) MOVIDIG

Movimiento Vida Digna (Movement for a Worthy Life)

MRC Movimiento Restorador de Colonos (Residents’ Restoration Movement)


Nongovernmental Organization

NPC Núcleos de Planejamento Comúnitario (Community Planning Units) PAN Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party) PB/OP Orçamento Participativo (Participatory Budgeting) PCdoB Partido Comunista do Brasil (Communist Party of Brazil) PDM Partido Democráta Mexicano (Mexican Democratic Party) PDS Partido Democrático Social (Democratic Social Party) PFL Partido da Frente Liberal (Party of the Liberal Front) PMDB Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party) PMR Partido de la Revolución Mexicana (Party of the Mexican Revolution) PMS Partido Mexicano Socialista (Mexican Socialist Party) PND Plan Nacional de Desarrollo (National Development Plan) PRD Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Democratic Revolution Party) PNR Partido Nacional Revolucionario (National Revolutionary Party) PPA Plano Plurianual (Plurianual Plan) PPAG Plano Plurianual da Ação Governamental (Governmental Action Plurianual plan) PPB/PB Programa Prefeitura nos Bairros (Program City Hall in the Neighborhoods) PREZEIS Programa da Regularização das Zonas Especiais de Interesse Social (Program for the Regularization of the Special Zones of Social Interest) PRI Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party)



PRODECOM Programa de Desenvolvimento de Comunidades (Community Development Program) PRONASOL

Programa Nacional de Solidaridad (National Solidarity Program)

PROPAR Programa participativo de Obras Prioritarias (Participatory Program for Priority Works) PSB Partido Socialista Brasileiro (Brazilian Socialist Party) PSC Partido Social Cristão (Social Christian Party) PSDB Partido Social Democrático Brasileiro (Brazilian Social Democratic Party) PT Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party) PTdoB Partido Trabalhista do Brasil (Labour Party of Brazil) PV Partido Verde (Green Party) PVEM Partido Verde Ecologista de México (Green Ecologist Party of Mexico) RPA Região político-administativa (Politico-administrative Region) SEDESOL

Secretariat de Desarrollo Social (Secretary of Social Development)

SEGOB Secretaria de Gobierno (Secretary of Government) SNDP Sistema Nacional de Planeación Democrática (National System of Democratic Planning) SNTSS Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Seguro Social (National Union of Social Security Workers) UCL Unión Cívica de León (León Civic Union) UNS Unión Nacional Sinarquísta (National Sinarquist Union) UPREZ Unión Popular Revolucionario Emiliano Zapata (Emiliano Zapata Popular Revolutionary Union)


Doing research about participatory democracy and on mechanisms aimed at bringing citizens back into governance processes, I felt I needed to bring them in at the center of the story I was about to tell. The inspiration for this book has thus mainly been all those wonderful citizens I have had the chance to meet and talk with in Mexico and Brazil. They all have generously given me time and opened their homes to me, inviting me to discuss their experiences and to share a little bit of their lives. Municipal officials and bureaucrats from Neza, León, Recife, and Brazil have also been crucial in reconstructing the story of state-society relationships in all four cities, helping me with meeting people and so generously opening for me the archives and letting me attend participatory events and meetings. I am extremely grateful to all of them for letting me into the heart of their participatory processes to observe their institutions, actors, and interactions. I have had the chance to work under the supervision of Philip Oxhorn, who has been a source of inspiration. Thank you for believing in me and for your tireless support throughout the years; it really made a huge difference. Your innumerable readings of my work, and your thoughtful support in the early stages of my career, have made me a much better scholar. During the research for this book, I benefited from the financial support of several organizations and institutions. This whole adventure has been made possible by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), which provided financial support in 2004–2007 and again in 2010–11. The eight-month fieldwork I conducted in Mexico and Brazil was made possible by funding from the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC) and the McGill Centre for Developing Area Studies (CDAS). I also had the support of the Faculty of Arts and the Department of Political Science at McGill University, which offered me a



grant. I am also grateful for the support of my current institution, the Université de Montréal, which gave me a professor installment fund while I was writing the final version of this manuscript. Doing research in the field is always an adventure, and both the academic support and great friends I could count on in Mexico and Brazil contributed to make these research and life experiences extraordinary ones. In Mexico, I am particularly grateful to Dr. Judit Bokser Liwerant, Dr. Irma Sandóval, and Dr. John Ackerman, for inviting me to join the research environment of the Faculdad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and its academic activities in the fall of 2007. I also want to thank Dr. Alicia Ziccardi and Dr. Patricia Ramirez Kuri, at the Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales (IIS-UNAM); Enrique Cabrero Mendoza, at the Centro de Investigaciones y Docencia Económica (CIDE); and Tonatiuh Guillén Lopez at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte, for the great conversations we had about local democracy in Mexico and my research. I am also thankful for having such wonderful friends in Mexico, who once again were an invaluable help and support. Aline, Nilbia, Juan Carlos, and Federico, thank you again for your precious friendship and for the endless conversations we had about Mexican politics and society that helped me understand another side of Mexico. I also want to thank Yaffa and Annie, without whom my stay in Mexico wouldn’t have been the same. My stay in Brazil was extremely enriched by my many exchanges and discussions with everyone at the Projeto Democracia Participativa of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (PRODEP-UFMG), in Belo Horizonte, and especially Prof. Leonardo Avritzer, who welcomed me so warmly at the center in the summer of 2008 and supported me throughout my stay there and even beyond. I am also grateful to Prof. Celina Souza at the Universidade Federal da Bahia, Marcus Melo at the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, and Vera Schattan Pereira Coelho at the Centro Brasileiro de Análisis e Planejamento (CEBRAP), for taking the time to discuss my research and help me in making contacts with key municipal actors. I also want to thank my friends in Belo Horizonte, and especially Stefano Stortone, my dear Italian colleague at PRODEP, with whom I had so much fun discovering Belo Horizonte and discussing Brazilian politics and participatory budgeting, as well as running (and sometimes getting lost!) around the city to attend PB meetings.



I would like to thank my editor at Stanford University Press, Geoffrey Burn, and his Editorial Assistant, James Holt, who both have been of tremendous help throughout the entire publishing process. The anonymous reviewers have given incredibly useful feedback on the manuscript, and pushed me to make it much better. I have also been lucky to benefit from the advices of many friends and colleagues in the past few years, who have generously accepted discussing ideas and findings and contributed to making the book much better. I am especially grateful to Phil Oxhorn, Brian Wampler, Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Leonardo Avritzer, Tina Hilgers, Julian Durazo, Juliet Johnson, and Camille Goirand, from whose generous comments this work has greatly benefited over the years. My colleagues and friends at the Department of Political Science at the Université de Montréal are the best I could ever wish for. They have been extremely supportive throughout the final stretch of writing this book. I am particularly indebted to Marie-Eve Reny and Graciela Ducatenzeiler, who generously read and commented on the final version of the manuscript, and to Jane Jenson, whose mentorship has been invaluable in the past years. I am also grateful to Laurence Bherer, for great and engaging discussions on participatory democracy; to Pascale Dufour, for being such a passionate and inspiring colleague; and to Cynthia Milton, in the history department, who shares my passion for Latin America. Finally, special thanks go to my dear friends Magdalena Dembinska and Ece Atikcan, who have been both intellectually engaging and my “support system” throughout the Ph.D. years and continue to be, as my colleagues. Family and friends are the hidden force behind the sometimes-tumultuous journey of academia: without their emotional and moral support, not much could actually be accomplished. I am extremely grateful to my old friends, my second family, for everything they are and represent to me. Elaine, Christine, Marie-Pierre, Vanessa, Elsie, Anne-Josée, Sarah, Denise, Marie-Claude, Kim, Marilou, Ann, Dan, Marco, Simon, and Etienne: your constant support and invaluable friendship help me in becoming a better person every day, and help me in going through all the experiences and questioning that come along with a career in academia, reminding me that life is not just about that. I am also grateful to my parents and sister, for always believing in me and giving me the tools and support to become the person I am today, and to my grandparents for being such a source of inspiration and an example of determination in my life.



A last and very special thank-you goes to Phil, my love, for making my life so much better every day and letting me pursue my dreams for all these years, always supporting me and following me in realizing them, whatever they were. Victor and Elsa came into our life as I was writing. They have been an inspiration since then, a driving force, both bringing me immense joy and perspective on life. This book is dedicated to them.

The Politics of Local Participatory Democracy in Latin America


Introduction The health of a democracy may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens. —alexis

de tocqueville

, 1840

After extensive debates regarding the challenges of democratic transitions in Latin America, scholars have more recently moved their attention to the quality of democratic governance in the region. Democracy, they suggest, is not simply a mode for selecting political leaders, but rather a more complex system of governance founded on the principle of liberty and sustained by an effective rule of law equally applied to all (Diamond 1999; O’Donnell 2005) that should also be evaluated according to the quality of its procedures, content, and results (Diamond and Morlino 2005). Evaluated against these criteria, Latin American electoral democracies reveal their flaws. Competitive and regular elections may today be “the only game in town” (Linz and Stepan 1996), but governance processes and policy results have been characterized by weak state accountability mechanisms (O’Donnell 1998) and a pervasive dynamic of social exclusion due to differentiated and unequal access to citizenship rights (Oxhorn 2003). The democratization challenge is therefore still alive in Latin America, a region characterized by the persistence of clientelistic relationships, whose exclusionary nature creates different classes of citizens, fosters inequality, and as such curtails the deepening of democracy.



In the face of these challenges, what can be done to deepen democratic practices, to transform state-society relationships at the core functioning of democratic institutions? The strengthening of an autonomously organized civil society able to make the state accountable is vital to this transformation, especially in contexts characterized by traditionally low levels of autonomous civic engagement. Inspired by the lessons of the literatures on civil society, participatory/deliberative democracy, and social capital, the idea of including ordinary citizens’ participation in decision making through formal institutional mechanisms has become an important locus of the democratic development strategy in Latin America. Building on existing scholarship, this book asks and answers two questions: Can institutional change enhance the quality of democracy in Latin America? More broadly, to what extent can institutional reform foster the development of an autonomous civil society capable of contributing to better quality democracy? The Politics of Local Participatory Democracy answers these questions by focusing on one particular type of institutional democratic innovation: local participatory governance mechanisms. Around the world, many local governments, from the political left to right, have recently adopted reforms to create institutions for participatory democracy. These reforms formally include ordinary citizens’ input in decision-making processes at the local level—the level of government where most citizens’ demands are formulated. The existence of a positive association between the creation of such public spaces and the deepening of democracy is thus generally assessed via two complementary angles: the empowerment thesis and the accountability and government responsiveness arguments. Examples of local participatory institutions include participatory budgeting, urban planning citizen councils, citizen oversight councils, and so on. These innovations are often cited as institutional expressions of a will to construct public spaces for civil society to engage in the governance process, for state-society interactions to flourish, and for local governments to become more responsive to local needs. Although there is an important body of literature addressing the relationship between participatory democracy and the deepening of democracy, compelling evidence from cross-national comparisons that provide an insightful assessment of the sociopolitical conditions underlying “success” are still lacking. More important, there is no agreement on the meaning and indicators of success. How is the assumed



democratization potential of participatory mechanisms actually realized in practice? Under what conditions is such institutional change likely to succeed? The book develops a conceptual and comparative framework to better understand democratic success for participatory democracy institutions, and a set of theoretical tools that can grasp the variety of empirical realities observed in practice, drawing from the comparative study of four cases of participatory democracy in two countries, Mexico and Brazil.

t h e prom ise of l o c a l pa rt ic i patory democr acy in mexico and br azil Though they have had quite different experiences with authoritarianism and democratization, both Mexico and Brazil share important sociopolitical dynamics and have undergone a transition to democracy during the past two decades, leading to the rise of political pluralism, the opening of the local and national electoral arenas, and the possibility of party alternation in power. In 1985, Brazilians elected their first civilian president since 1964. Tancredo Neves, from the traditional opposition party Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (PMDB), was elected as a result of a pact negotiated between the military regime, the official pro-military party Aliança Renovadora Nacional (ARENA), and the opposition (PMDB) for the apertura (opening) of the regime and the return of power to civilians after twenty years of military rule. The transition to democracy culminated in 1988, with the adoption of the new Constitution of Brazil. Mexicans have had a quite different story of democratization. In 2000, an election ended the seventy-year reign of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI)— this after twenty years of gradual opening of the regime through a series of electoral and constitutional reforms adopted by PRI in search of renewed legitimacy. In 2000, Mexicans elected Vicente Fox from the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), in a presidential election that would leave the PRI in third place (after the leftist Partido de Revolución Democrática or PRD). While following different trajectories toward the adoption of democratic institutions, Mexico and Brazil are both characterized by the predominance of informal institutions, a set of unwritten rules that exist outside and alongside formal ones (Helmke and Levitsky 2006). Informal institutions, though unwritten, are known for having a significant



influence on formal rules (O’Donnell 1996): they can reinforce, subvert, or even supersede them. Not only do they provide incentives and disincentives to comply with formal rules (Helmke and Levitsky 2006), but they also shape and constrain human behavior, as well as the nature of state-society interactions and democratic outcomes. Challenges to Mexican and Brazilian democratic regimes are, in fact, still very much linked to the prevalence and adaptation of clientelism to democratic institutions. More than a question of access to power through formal institutions, the quality of democracy depends on the exercise of power within those institutions (Mazzuca 2010), and on the capacity of institutional arrangements to curb clientelistic relationships between the state and society. Traditionally defined as a mode of interaction between politicians (patrons) and citizens (clients) that involves an unequal social exchange based on power and resources, clientelism is not static and could therefore survive a transition to democracy and adapt to the new context of competitive electoral politics. It can take differing forms and functions, and it can adapt to the new context of machine politics where parties become clientelistic machines (Eisenstadt and Roniger 1981; Roniger 1994). Here, traditional patron-client ties are incorporated into a broader institutional framework, usually the political parties (Lemarchand 1981). The exchange is, then, less understood in terms of a personal relationship between two individuals. It is, rather, defined by political parties and included within the activities of the elected governments, through targeted programs and policies that aim to secure the support of certain social groups. In post-transition Mexico, clientelism remained a strategy pursued by highly institutionalized political parties to gain or maintain political support among the population, most using their local social and political organization to bridge the gap between citizens and the party in view of securing votes (Shefner 2001; Hilgers 2008; Fox 1994). In Brazil, modern clientelism arose in the context of urbanization and changed the nature of client-patron relationships, also bringing them to the center of party politics and partisan-loyalty dynamics. Since 1985, clientelism has been used as a direct or indirect vote-buying strategy by local, state, and federal politicians seeking to maintain and extend their local support bases in a party system characterized by numerous political parties, changing loyalties, and the traditional weakness of popular organizations and mass-based parties (Mainwaring 1999).



As political pluralism rose in both countries, however, a new “democratization” discourse emerged among political parties, to which the idea of citizen participation became central. In democratization contexts, participatory democracy is indeed often assumed to potentially be “transformative,” creating institutional spaces for state-society relationships to be redefined by democratic practices (Hickey and Mohan 2005; de Sousa Santos and Avritzer 2004). It is argued to have the potential to empower civil society from below (Fung and Wright 2003), bring traditionally marginalized citizens together with the state in the public sphere for them to negotiate their access to the rights of citizenship (Hagopian 2007), and strengthen state accountability mechanisms (Ackerman 2003; Avritzer 2002; Heller 2001; Goetz and Jenkins 2001; Manor 1999), creating formal and direct ties between the local state and participating civil society organizations (CSOs). To be effective, local participatory institutions should, however, follow certain fundamental principles (Harbers 2007; Goldfrank 2008; Fung and Wright 2003, 2001): (1) they need to be institutionalized, included in the “routine” of the local government’s decision-making processes over specific and tangible public policy issues; (2) they must sustain and encourage face-to-face interaction and deliberation in public-sphere policy issues to generate solutions; and (3) although they are not necessarily located at the local level, they are often closely related to state decentralization processes. Following these general principles, the design of the participatory reforms that were put forward in Mexico and Brazil is however different, given the countries’ local histories of mobilization and the contrasting ways by which clientelism needed to be coped with. In Mexico, clientelism is often a partisan practice that needs to be curbed by long-term planning processes going beyond a party’s or a mayor’s three-year mandate. Consequently, the new form of participatory governance that has emerged at the local level revolves around the general issues of urban planning and urban development, with city-based citizen committees acting as the “voice” of the population to inform city hall’s decision-making processes. In Brazil, budgeting has been an important tool for circumventing clientelistic resource distribution. In this case, participatory budgeting is thus the most important aspect of participatory democracy that has appeared with the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) in Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul) in 1988 and has since spread throughout the country and even beyond.



beyond t he honey moon: u nder sta nding how a n d w h y ou t c om e s va r y If the conditions leading to implementation of institutionalized participatory democracy innovations and their diffusion across Latin America are now well documented, how their implementation transformed the state, civil society, and state-society interactions still needs to be further explored and explained both theoretically and empirically. Although studies of participatory democracy have flourished, many have undertaken single-case studies, which has generally led to an overoptimistic view of the democratization potential of such institutions (Abers 2000; Avritzer 2002; Fung and Wright 2003; Baiocchi 2005). As Avritzer rightfully said, the honeymoon seems to be over today, as scholarship enters a “post-celebratory phase” (Avritzer 2009b). Participatory institutions and mechanisms have spread around the world, but they are not a panacea against all of democracy’s ills. They have had mixed results in practice at the municipal level, between countries but also between municipalities within a single country, as in Mexico and Brazil. Recent empirical studies have indeed observed that the gap between the normative expectations underlying the arguments linking social participation to democratization—assuming that citizens are willing to participate actively when given the opportunity—and the reality of actual citizen participation is quite significant (Cornwall and Coelho 2007). The empowerment thesis has been questioned, and it is yet not clear whether new associations and civic organizations have directly resulted from participatory innovations (Nylen 2002, 2003) or have increased their capacity to organize through the process (Baiocchi et al. 2011). Moreover, in many cases, old practices of clientelism are likely to coexist with the new practices introduced through the process (Garcia-Guadilla and Perez 2002; Wampler 2007; Montambeault 2012, 2011). Comparative perspectives have thus led authors to become more cautious about the positive link between institutionalized participation and democratization. The dominant comparative approaches, however, remain limited as they do not provide a thorough comparative analysis of participatory institutions (Wampler and McNulty 2011). If, for instance, they compare cases with differing outcomes, they focus on either cases across countries (Avritzer 2002; Goldfrank 2011) or within countries (Wampler 2007; Avritzer 2009b; Baiocchi et al. 2011; Selee 2011), without combining



both types of comparison. Moreover, there is a lack of consensus in scholarship over the definition of democratic success and its underlying conditions.

The Arguments The first question the book addresses is therefore, How do we assess success? Taking a comprehensive approach to understanding democracy, it argues that democratic success should be measured by the extent to which participatory democracy has contributed to transforming (or not) state-society relationships at the local level. Because participatory institutions generate new forms of interactions between the state and citizens, the assumption is that the focus of this analysis should be on how the relationship between the state and civil society emerges and develops through formal and informal interactions in the participatory process. Such a redefinition of success not only assumes that it is not a given, but also allows that there might be different degrees of success. As the cases presented here exemplify, there are significant discrepancies among cases across Latin America. This suggests that the traditional dichotomy between clientelism and citizenship cannot sufficiently address the issue of state-society relationships. In fact, as Latin American countries have generally transitioned toward a democratic regime favoring pluralism, social relations are more complex than the reality this dualistic spectrum can capture. Thus, by redefining success, this book not only contributes to a better understanding of how participatory democracy affects policy-making processes and outcomes or the number of associations they create, but also of how it reshapes (or not) formal and informal practices of local democratic governance. The book thus starts from the premise that deepening democracy demands more than a mere institutional reform, rather a deep transformation of state-society relationships. Such relationships are defined by and thus vary along two dimensions: the types of mobilization patterns they encourage, and, more important, the level of autonomy observed in the practice of participation within these institutions. Four types of relationships can thus emerge: clientelism (particularistic mobilization and low autonomy), disempowering cooption (collective mobilization and low autonomy), fragmented inclusion (particularistic mobilization and high autonomy), and democratic cooperation (collective mobilization and high autonomy). Drawing from the comparative case study of participatory budgeting (PB) experiences in Belo



Horizonte and Recife, in Brazil, and of participatory urban planning experiences in León and Nezahualcóyotl, in Mexico (see maps at the end of the chapter), the book shows that state-society cooperation has more potential than the other types to facilitate social inclusion patterns, greater state accountability, and consequently the deepening of democracy. Not only does it entail collective grassroots mobilization patterns that contribute to empowering civil society actors, but it also allows them to autonomously organize, to mediate between the state and society, and to formulate collective demands on the state through the formal channels of participation. In Belo Horizonte’s PB program, the combination of both a change in the focus of mobilization patterns in the city and the increasing autonomy enjoyed by CSOs and other participants in the participatory process has contributed to transforming traditional clientelistic interactions into a model of equal cooperation between actors from both the social and the political spheres. Consequently, the blossoming of democratizing governance practices that help ensure that ordinary citizens—including the previously marginalized—are included in the social construction of the citizenship regime is observed. This inclusion means greater access to citizenship rights and more effective accountability mechanisms. In León—a case of fragmented inclusion—autonomous participation from all sectors of the population is now encouraged through the participatory governance model, which reduces the negative impact of individual mobilization patterns for state-society relationships and contributes to the deepening of democracy, while remaining a limited participatory reform compared to Belo Horizonte. By contrast, in the least successful cases of Nezahualcóyotl and Recife-PFL/PMDB (Partido da Frente Liberal and Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro, 1993–2000),1 both individual mobilization strategies and the use of political control strategies autonomy are observed. Combined, they contribute to the maintenance and even the reinforcement of clientelistic relationships that traditionally prevailed in both cities, curtailing their prospects for the deepening of democracy. In Recife-PT (2001–2008) the context of political control over participation reduces the impact of social mobilization becoming more collective and organized. The cooption strategies deployed by local authorities disempower organized groups, limiting the impact of their collective action by making them dependent on informal ties with political parties and public officials.



figure 1.1  The Explanatory Model.

Drawing from these combined pairs of subnational comparisons across and within countries, the book then tackles a second question: Why do levels of success vary? Controlling for existing alternative explanations through case selection and building on the existing literature toward a more integrated approach, the empirical material drawn from the comparative case study shows that the level of democratic success depends on two sets of interacting factors (Figure 1.1). First, mobilization patterns are best explained by institutional design, providing positive or negative incentives for collective mobilization and demand making. Second, if we want to capture the way people appropriate and enact participatory mechanisms in practice—how autonomous they are within such an institutional framework—the focus of the analysis should be on the actors, on both their formal and informal practices and interactions within participatory institutions. These practices depend on three interrelated variables: the level of political competitiveness and



factionalism, the configuration of civil society, and the actor’s mutual understandings of the meaning(s) of participation. Thus, the observed variations in the type of state-society relationships that emerge from the implementation of decentralized participatory mechanisms in municipal governance models is better explained by an integrated approach that combines variables accounting for institutional design, structural conditions of mobilization, and both state and society actor’s configurations, strategies, behaviors, and perceptions. Institutional change alone does not guarantee democratic success when measured in terms of (un)changing state-society relationships; how these institutional changes are enacted by both political and social actors is even more important as it conditions the potential for an autonomous civil society to emerge and actively engage with the local state in the social construction of an inclusive citizenship regime. In sum, what is the impact of local participatory democracy on the prospects for democratic deepening at the local level? How do these newly created participatory public spaces affect state-society relationships? The novel research design, which compares five experiences of posttransition participatory innovation (1988–2008), the outcomes of which vary along the two axes of the typology, is revealing and has important theoretical and policy implications. First, it shows that a cooperative relationship has the greatest prospect of deepening democracy. By uncovering “intermediate cases”— fragmented inclusion and disempowering cooption—the study, in addition, sheds a new light on participatory decentralization. These nuanced findings show that autonomy is a central feature of democratizing statesociety relationships as it can positively or negatively interact with social mobilization depending on its nature. Second, the comparative findings strongly suggest that if institutional design matters, then how these institutional mechanisms are appropriated by both political and social actors is even more important as it conditions the potential for an autonomous civil society to emerge and actively engage with the local state in the social construction of an inclusive citizenship regime. Therefore, implementing participatory institutions at the local level does not necessarily contribute to better quality democracy; these institutions need to be adapted to singular contexts, and appropriated by local actors.



Case Selection and Methodology In order to better grasp the variation across cases and the range of factors explaining such variation, the book develops a novel method of combined sets of paired subnational comparisons, comparing most-similar (within countries) and most-different pairs within the same research design. I thus compare cases of success and failure in four municipalities (Nezahualcóyotl and León in Mexico, Belo Horizonte and Recife2 in Brazil), both across and within countries. Although they are comparable on several accounts, it is the differences between Mexican and Brazilian contexts and participatory institutions that also make this pairing so compelling. This research strategy not only allows us to better grasp the range of possible outcomes across cases by looking at who participates (type of mobilization) and how people do so in qualitative terms (level of autonomy), but it also helps to explain variations on both dimensions of success. Selecting and comparing these municipalities within and across national contexts allow controlling for alternative explanations. First, the similarities across cities in both national contexts in terms of the level of decentralization and in the level and nature of previous associationalism have been widely pointed out in the current literature to explain (un)successful cases in the literature. León and Belo Horizonte are historically industrialized cities, while Neza and Recife are historically poorer. Nonetheless, these different socioeconomic trajectories are not determining variables to account for variation across cases when success is defined in terms of state-society relationships, as it is in this book. Moreover, all four municipalities share a high level of inequality, which leaves the excluded sectors of the population organized in a similar fashion in all cases: living in nonurbanized communities (slums or favelas), without access to public services, and thus living in poor and vulnerable socioeconomic conditions. The participatory mechanisms studied are specifically oriented toward the participation of the traditionally excluded, of the most vulnerable communities, who hardly have access to public authorities otherwise. Differences between all cases cannot, however, be ignored. In fact, institutional differences across countries that have cases of both success and failure also call to our attention. The fact that all four municipalities present institutional and historical similarities within countries but also different features across countries—with Brazil’s model focusing on participatory budgeting involving the participation of ordinary citizens while Mexico’s model focuses on participatory planning



involving mostly elected citizen representatives—makes this comparative method interesting. This method shows that, contrary to common wisdom, the Brazilian model is not necessarily more successful than the Mexican one at fostering democratic practices. In fact, if institutional differences are important, they are not as determining as local sociopolitical contextual variables in explaining the variation in level of success for local initiatives across and within countries. PB is not, in itself, a superior model of participation. Local context matters, and it is therefore almost impossible to identify a single cause that explains the variety of state-society relationships that can emerge from participatory democracy institutions. Comparative case study and process tracing are methods that require an in-depth knowledge of cases, to which qualitative methods and political ethnography are well suited. For this reason, the study was primarily conducted on the basis of collection of original primary-source data realized in eight months between September 2007 and August 2008. One of the most important sources of information available for understanding the nature of state-society relationships and the linkages among local actors, institutional structures, and governance processes is the actors themselves. For this reason, ethnographic work based mostly on interviews constitutes an important tool for observing causal mechanisms that are not necessarily apparent with other forms of data collection (Mosley 2013), providing “a way of generating empirical data about the world by asking people to talk about their lives” (Holstein and Gubrium 2003, 3). More than that, interviews are a necessary tool to “reveal the rules of ruling that shape local experiences,” with each interview constituting one piece of an integrated view of the rules underlying complex social relationships (DeVault and McCoy 2003). Therefore, during fieldwork in Mexico and Brazil, a series of semistructured interviews (Berg 2004) were conducted with more than eighty municipal and social actors involved in participatory governance in the four cities.3 In all four cities, interviews were conducted with three types of actors, adapting the selection to the realities of the participatory structure of each city: elected members of the local government, members of the local administration, and citizen representatives actively participating in the local participatory institutions. Interviewees were selected using a purposive sampling method (Lynch 2013), interviewing actors in neighborhoods representative of each city’s economic, political, and social diversity. Actors within the federal governments and countrywide nongovernmental



organizations (NGOs) working on the question of local governance and citizen participation were also interviewed. The idea underlying the chosen method of sampling was thus to reconstitute social relationship realities with a less shallow understanding of these relationships that results from an integrated view that combines the perspectives present. As a complement to the interviews, archival and newspaper research was realized, scrutinizing past municipal council minutes, journals of parliamentary debates, and decrees and decisions related to or involving participatory mechanisms, as well as reports, opinion letters and newspaper articles on the subject of citizen participation, participatory mechanisms, and related topics. Observations were also made during meetings of the cabildo in Nezahualcóyotl and León,4 as well as in several citizens’ neighborhood assemblies and PB meetings in all four municipalities. These observations were not only rich for better understanding the rules and mechanisms underlying citizen participation, but they were also an opportunity to better understand the dynamics leading the functioning of these institutions in all municipalities. Comparing only five experiences rather than using a large-n data set obviously presents some limitations, especially in terms of generalization prospects. But even if comparing a large number of cases may lead to more parsimonious theories and may therefore have wider prospects for generalization (King, Keohane, and Verba 1994), it can also sacrifice some level of accuracy. Because the objective of this research is to tackle the complexity of interactions and agency, lowering the number of cases and conducting more in-depth studies of each case is the better strategy (George and Bennett 2004). This is particularly important given the lack of empirical research on these dynamics after reforms are actually implemented. Moreover, the weaknesses of small-n comparison are overcome by the fact that the analysis is based on multilevel comparisons. In fact, comparing both similar and different cities within two countries generates findings that increase the potential for midrange generalizations.

book overview The book is structured for the reader to clearly see the similarities and differences between the cases and in the patterns of state-society relationships



observed in the practice of local participation, while underlining the empirical richness and complexity of each of the four cases. The four empirical chapters present each case as a separate story, reproducing the same analytical structure and presenting in-depth analysis and comparisons for each case. The conclusion systematizes comparison of each case’s findings and further discusses their theoretical and practical implications. Chapters 2 and 3 set up the theoretical framework, building on insights from the quality of democracy and the participatory democracy literatures. Chapter 2 makes the case for a redefinition of the democratic success of local participatory democracy, determined by the nature of the state-society relationships that develop through formal and informal participatory interactions. The chapter presents a typology to account for variation along the two defining dimensions of state-society relationships: the nature of mobilization (from individual to collective forms) and the level of autonomy of the participants (from controlled to autonomous). It defines the four ideal types used throughout the book to categorize the diversity of empirical outcomes observed across cases: clientelism, disempowering cooption, fragmented inclusion, and democratic cooperation. Chapter 3 presents the four cities selected in greater detail, exploring existing explanations for variations in success by emphasizing the cases’ historical and institutional similarities. It offers a framework for explaining the various state-society relationship outcomes, defining the indicators for a series of cultural, institutional, and agency-related factors that, combined and in interaction with one another, can explain variation along both mobilization and autonomy dimensions of state-society relationships across and within cases. Chapters 4 through 7 present an in-depth comparative analysis of the four case studies, uncovering the causal mechanisms that explain variation in level of democratic success. Chapters 4 and 5 focus on the Mexican cases. Chapter 4 shows that the case of participatory planning in Nezahualcóyotl closely corresponds to the ideal type of clientelism. The persistence of this traditional type of state-society relationship in the city despite the existence of formal participatory channels is explained by two factors. First, a tendency of institutional design to encourage individual and particularistic forms of mobilization is observed. Second, the local sociopolitical context—characterized by high political competition among and within parties and an imbalance of civil society organizations engaged in the process that maintain unequal understanding of state and society actors’



roles in the process—contributes to the maintenance of control strategies in participatory mechanisms that, in turn, undermine the autonomy of civil society participants. Chapter 5 shows that the case of participatory planning in León corresponds to the ideal type of fragmented inclusion. The development of such a relationship is explained by two main elements. First, the case points to a tendency of the chosen institutional design to encourage individual forms of mobilization, organized around particularistic demands. Second, the sociopolitical context characterized by a relatively stable situation of political competition among and within parties and the participation of all sectors of civil society tends to encourage the development of a partnership understanding of the state’s and society’s roles in the participatory process and to minimize the use of control strategies and open up the possibilities for increased autonomy among participants. Chapter 6 moves the analysis to Brazil, with the case of Recife. This city presents two cases in one, and as such, allows a unique time-based comparison that adds to the space-based comparisons undertaken throughout the book. The chapter shows that Recife’s two distinct experiences of participatory budgeting, implemented under two local governments, reveal dissimilar patterns of state-society relationships: the first one (implemented from 1993 to 2000 under a PMDB/PFL (Partido da Frente Liberal) coalition) closely corresponds to an ideal type of clientelism, while the other one (implemented since 2001 under the PT) has the characteristics of disempowering cooption. These varying outcomes in the same city thus represent a variation on the mobilization axis between the two periods, which is best explained by the important changes introduced in the institutional design by the PT in 2001, which encouraged new collective actors to mobilize and participate in the participatory process. The sociopolitical context, however, remained more likely to sustain an unequal partnership and political control practices in both models, characterized by intense political competition between and within political parties as well as a divided civil society. Chapter 7 presents the most successful case, Belo Horizonte, showing how it more closely corresponds to a case of democratic success, with democratic cooperation emerging between state and society actors. This is best explained by two main elements. On the one hand, the institutional design adopted in Belo Horizonte fostered the collective organization of groups of citizens to define the common good. On the other hand, the sociopolitical context within which the process was implemented fostered the autonomy



of participants and, rather than sustain strategies of political control, led to the development of an equal partnership (understood as such) between state and society actors in the participatory process. Finally, Chapter 8 places the conclusions in a comparative perspective, highlighting the theoretical and policy lessons that can be learned from the four empirical cases presented in the book. It then explores the differentiated consequences each type has for the deepening of local democratic practices in governance processes, highlighting the limits and potential of each model as well as discussing the implications for the quality of democracy and its procedures, processes, and policy outcomes. The chapter discusses the theoretical implications of the findings for the study of institutional reform, civic engagement, and democratization, but also their policy implications for the policy makers and politicians who lead such types of participatory democracy reforms throughout Latin America, and in municipalities around the world.

map 1.1  Mexican Cases: León and Nezahualcóyotl

map 1.2  Brazilian Cases: Belo Horizonte and Recife


How Does Success Vary? Redefining Democratic Success

After more than two decades of local participatory democracy experiments, there is still not a clear understanding of what success means. Citizen participation in municipal decision-making processes at the local level is often regarded as a means of deepening democracy, that is, improving the quality of what has been described as the “incomplete,” “electoral,” or “delegative” democracies of Latin America (Diamond 2002; O’Donnell 1996; Schedler 1998). As a democratic project aimed at bringing citizens into the decision-making process at the local level, participatory democracy is thus considered an alternative to elitist democracies in Latin America (Dagnino, Olvera, and Panfichi 2006). A variety of formal participatory mechanisms have been implemented in Latin America, including participatory budgeting, urban and policy planning councils, citizen-participation councils, etc. Yet the current literature on the consequences of such reforms suggests that they have had mixed results in terms of poverty reduction, social inclusion, or democratization. Success is both understood and measured very differently across such studies. This chapter addresses this gap and provides a comprehensive

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conceptual framework for understanding the complex and variable nature of democratic success.

u n pack i ng de mo cr at ic suc c e s s: towa r d a compr ehensive understanding Participatory institutions in Latin America have been widely scrutinized in the recent literature, on the basis of several—sometimes competing— assumptions about the definition of democratic success, or democracy in general. Such studies look at a wide range of impacts: the institutionalization of civil society, participation in the public sphere, redistributive policy performance, the vitality of associational life, empowerment, or electoral outcomes. Nonetheless, as pointed out by Wampler and McNulty (2011), we still lack a thorough understanding of how these factors affect democracy and the quality of its practices and institutions. One reason for that is that although everyone talks about the conditions explaining the “success” of local participatory democracy, the meaning of success remains undertheorized and there is no consensus on what is entailed in participatory democracy being successful. Participatory mechanisms’ success is often assumed to be “democratic,” but not much attention is given to define what democratic deepening is, creating confusion in the actual assessment of success. How democracy should be defined, operationalized, and evaluated has been vigorously debated. The emergence of various types of political democracies led to recognition that the development of “high quality” democracy was to be sustained; a reconceptualization of democracy was needed. Beyond the “operational” definition, democracy is a model of governance that is founded on the principles of liberty and equality, and is upheld by an effective rule of law applied equally and indiscriminately to all citizens (Held 2006; Diamond 1999). Evaluating and fostering democracy should not exclusively involve implementing formal procedures that sustain these two principles, but should also be concerned with the content and the results of the governance process. In fact, free, fair, and regularly held elections do not guarantee a model of democracy that “provide[s] its citizens a high degree of freedom, political equality, and popular control over public policies and policy makers through the legitimate and lawful functioning


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of stable institutions” (Diamond and Morlino 2005, xi). Democratic quality therefore has two dimensions—social inclusion and accountability— both defined by the way the state and society interact.

Democracy as Citizenship and Social Inclusion Central to the quality of democracy is the notion of social inclusion, of inclusive citizenship regimes. According to T. H. Marshall, “those who possess citizenship status are equal with respect to the rights and duties with which the status is endowed” (Marshall 1950). Being a citizen indeed means possessing civic, political, and social rights, as well as duties. This status cannot, however, be considered undifferentiated, as Marshall did. Individual rights associated with citizenship are not automatically granted by the state; they are most often achieved through different forms of collective struggle and negotiations, the result of cooperation and conflict between the state and society (Foweraker and Landman 1997). Citizenship is not just a status, it is an “instituted process,” a “set of institutionally embedded social practices contingent upon and constituted by networks of relationships” (Somers 1993, 589), among and between the state and society. As Held (1992) argued, citizenship indeed results from the efforts of different groups, movements, and classes to gain more autonomy and control over their lives in the face of various forms of stratification, hierarchy, and political oppression. The concept of citizenship regime (Jenson 2001) is useful to capture this idea. In effect, citizenship regimes include institutional arrangements, rules, and understandings that establish the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion of a political community through formal recognition of particular rights (civil, political, social, and cultural; individual and collective). There are, therefore, three dimensions of citizenship, which not only tie the state and its citizens together in a reciprocal relationship within the political community but also link the citizens among themselves: rights and responsibilities, access, and belonging1 (Jenson and Papillon 2001). These state-civil society interactions and the struggle of civil society, demanding equal citizenship rights and social inclusion while resisting subordination to the state, have also been defined as the “social construction of citizenship” (Oxhorn 2003), which entails dimensions of negotiation and bargaining where civil society is a crucial actor. In fact, civil society organizations “serve the main function of instilling citizenship,

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the participation in social life that takes a person [ . . . ] to a recognition of what promotes the common good” (Hudson 2003, 213). Because the inclusiveness of a citizenship regime rests on the ability of the state to confer political, social, and civil rights on citizens, its improvement is closely linked to development of a strong and inclusive civil society that engages in a cooperative relationship with the state. Further, as Jenson notes, the boundaries of citizenship are determined by a reciprocal relationship between the state and individuals within the political community (Jenson and Papillon 2001), to which the development of an autonomous and inclusive civil society is crucial. Because they include this reciprocal state-society relationship, citizenship regimes are about rights and responsibilities, but also about access and belonging. Historically, in most Latin American countries citizenship regimes remained limited to certain segments of the population (often on the basis of favoritism and political privileges); civic and political rights were nonexistent for the majority of the population, and social rights were not extended to all citizens. In today’s young Latin American democracies, the extent to which citizenship is fully granted is one of the main criteria used to evaluate the quality of these new regimes. Such regimes have, we will see, inherited weak civil societies and strong political elites perpetuating clientelistic state-society relationships that have adapted to democratic change. This precludes further deepening and consolidation of democracy.

Democracy as State Accountability and the Rule of Law The visible lack of accountability mechanisms in new democracies challenges the development of inclusive democratic citizenship regimes, and of higher-quality democracies (Schedler, Diamond, and Plattner 1999; Mainwaring and Welna 2003). O’Donnell (1998, 2005) indeed showed that the absence of or deficiencies in accountability mechanisms present a challenge to the effectiveness of the rule of law, the guarantee for a certain level of responsiveness from the state, and, more important, universal application of and undifferentiated access to the fundamental rights of citizenship for all citizens. Simply put, accountability is “the process of holding [political] actors responsible for their actions” (Fox 2007, 28). In politics, the concept of accountability refers more specifically to three important underlying


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ideas: answerability, of politicians’ obligation to inform the public about the nature of their actions and to explain them; responsibility, of public officials with regards to their actions; and enforcement, the capacity for the “accountability agents” to sanction the “powerholders” wrongdoings (Schedler 1999; Mainwaring 2003). Accountability therefore entails a relationship between the state, politicians, and society with multidirectional linkages establishing an array of vertical (connecting citizens to their representatives) and horizontal (checks and balances) mechanisms. An important source of accountability in democracies is the existence of free and fair electoral procedures that guarantee a certain degree of “vertical accountability” between citizens and the state. Elections indeed constitute the primary mechanism that allows citizens to sanction or reward the actions and decisions of their politicians. For both structural and contextual reasons, it has, however, been argued that elections are not an entirely reliable mechanism of accountability. First, most powerholders and decision makers are not elected: the elected representatives, who are directly accountable to the voters, appoint them. Second, held every few years and attempting to consolidate a variety of interests and opinions, elections do not send clear signals to individual politicians (Przeworski, Stokes, and Manin 1999). Contextual factors must also be taken into account. Even if or when sanctions could be imposed on an individual basis, elections are held in the context of imperfect information about the workings of government and particularly poor public information available on the behaviors of individual politicians (Ackerman 2003). Though they are problematic as a vertical accountability mechanism in general, these shortcomings are exacerbated in Latin America and other new democracies, where elections are not complemented by other strong sources of accountability, among them horizontal and social accountability (O’Donnell 1998; Schedler 1999; Mainwaring 2003; Moreno, Crisp, and Shugart 2003). The newly elected democratic regimes of Latin America often lacked efficient “horizontal accountability.” Referring to an array of organizations and checks and balances within the state that are “willing and able to take actions in relation to actions or omissions by other agents or agencies of the state that may be qualified as unlawful” (O’Donnell 1998, 117), horizontal accountability is central to the quality of democratic governance. It codifies the idea that the branches of the state—generally the judiciary, the legislative, and the executive—should “restrain” one another through

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a series of institutional checks and balances (Schedler et al. 1999). In Latin American “delegative” democracies, however, executives are the most powerful branch of government, and other central agencies are often ignored and their autonomy curtailed. If superintendence agencies—nonelectoral and independent institutions such as the ombudsman, controller general, or general prosecutor—were created to oversee the actions of the executive, they remain creatures of this executive and are dependent on it for their own survival and existence. They do not, therefore, enjoy the genuine autonomy they would need to impose sanctions on central authorities—if and when necessary (Moreno et al. 2003). This is especially true in presidential models found in several Latin American countries such as Mexico and Brazil. Here, the central executive has kept the lion’s share of powers, even after the transition to democratic regimes at all levels of government. Horizontal accountability is thus consistently undermined (O’Donnell 1994), and limits the quality of democratic governance in Latin America. In this context, strengthening and mobilizing civil society is essential for stimulating both types of accountability mechanisms and “making democracy work” (Schmitter 1999; Diamond 2008, 310; Smulovitz and Peruzzoti 2000). Social or societal accountability entails not only the existence of effective vertical and horizontal accountability mechanisms but also the involvement of an active and autonomous civil society that can hold the government responsible for its actions and decisions. Social accountability is thus defined as a mechanism that “rests on the actions of a multiple array of citizens’ associations and movements” that, via the media and public action, are able to set the agenda and expose the wrongdoings of their representatives (Smulovitz and Peruzzoti 2000). It is a mechanism for improving the quality of democracy from the perspective of social action, the effectiveness of which rests upon “organized civil society able to exert influence on the political system and on public bureaucracies” (2000, 150). That recent Latin American democracies such as Mexico and Brazil are weak in this area, however, continues to pose a challenge to development of inclusive citizenship regimes and government accountability.

Deepening Democracy: What Does It Mean? Looking at the quality of democratic governance through both inclusiveness and accountability dimensions uncovered how closely its deepening


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is intertwined with the nature of state-society relationships. Today’s struggle for the deepening of democracy in Latin America is, in effect, closely related to the persistence of unequal and often clientelistic state-society relations in the region, nurtured by the historical weakness of civil society and by democratic institutions molded through mostly elitist democratic transitions. If access to power through formal institutions is now secured, the quality of democratic rule also means the actual exercise of power (Mazzuca 2010) through accountability mechanisms and inclusive citizenship rights, which mostly depends on informal institutions and the nature of state-society relations. Transforming the way citizens are linked to the state and its officials on the one hand and to civil society organizations on the other is a central aspect of improving the quality of Third Wave democratic regimes. To deepen democratic quality, the existence and participation of a strong, autonomous, and inclusive civil society able to organize collectively and press demands on the state are essential (Oxhorn 2001). Civil society is not conceived as being in opposition to or in constant conflict with the state as suggested by the liberal-individual perspective (Diamond 1999). It is not isolated from the state, but rather the nexus between society and the state. It is thus defined with a collectivist perspective as “the social fabric formed by a multiplicity of self-constituted territorially- and functionallybased units which peacefully coexist and collectively resist subordination to the state, at the same time as they demand inclusion into the national political structures” (Oxhorn 1995, 251–52). This definition includes all types of social groups, associations, neighborhood committees, social movements, and even ethnic groups. It is important to emphasize, however, that civil society is by no means a homogeneous category; it is composed of a variety of groups with distinct strategies and interests. Moreover, although civil society as a whole plays a role in supporting democracy, the organizations within civil society themselves do not need to be explicitly democratic.2 Inclusiveness and autonomy are, however, both concepts at the core of civil society that refer to its constitutive relationship: with the state (autonomy) on the one hand and with society (inclusion) on the other. Thus, depending on the strength of civil society, but also on the nature of its formal and informal interactions with society and the state, the quality of democracy will vary (accountability; citizenship rights and social inclusion). The quality of democratic governance is therefore the reflection of both formal and

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informal interactions among individual and collective actors of the public sphere, from both sides: the state and society. How the state and society interact with one another in formal and informal institutions defines the depth of a democracy. The study of these interactions is especially important to understanding the democratic success of participatory institutions in Latin America, which provide formal and informal channels for such a relationship to flourish, and possibly change.

R e d e f i n i n g Pa r t i c i pa t o r y D e m o c r a c y ’s S uc c e s s: Va r i e t i e s of S tat e-S o c i e t y R el ationships In Latin America, efforts at deepening democracy—or the transformation of state-society relationships—partly went through the opening of new public/institutional spaces for direct citizen participation that bolsters social inclusion and strengthens social accountability. In theory, these venues allow state and society to work with one another, to cooperate with one another through direct engagement of citizens in the governance process (Dagnino 2002; Dagnino et al. 2006; Baiocchi 2003). It is in this context that local participatory democracy emerged as an alternative to the “elitist forms” of democracy in Latin America (Avritzer 2002; Nylen 2003). Increasingly, participation was recognized as having a “transformative” potential, associated with democratization. If citizen participation, and more particularly spaces for participation invited by the state, are praised for their “transformative” potential (Cornwall 2008), it is thus in these terms its (un)successes should be defined and understood. Participatory mechanisms constitute new forms of intermediation between the state and society, new channels for the articulation of their relationship. Although most of the recent scholarship does not explicitly address it, their assessments of the variety of possible outcomes for participatory democratic innovations generally implicitly presuppose a transformation in state-society relationships. It is, however, precisely the nature of such (un)changing relationships—how political and society actors relate to one another—that should be the main indicator of participatory institutions’ democratic success. A comprehensive theory of local participatory democracy therefore builds on the existing literature and makes this focus on (un)changing state-society relationships


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explicit, defines and empirically documents the variation in types of statesociety relationships across cases, and then explains such variation and its differentiated impact on the quality of participatory democratic processes.

What Is Democratic Success of Participatory Institutions All About? Confusion over a Definition Scholarship on participatory democracy in Latin America and elsewhere evolved from a focus on the causes of local participatory innovations to an interest in the consequences of their implementation. With such a change in focus came two intertwined developments in participatory democratic theory that deeply influenced empirical assessments of local experiences in Latin America. First, assuming participation had an inherently positive (transformative) impact on the various dimensions of democratic deepening was misguided. Invited spaces for citizen participation were, in practice, particularly context-sensitive and permeable to political manipulation (Cornwall 2008), which made a positive outcome very uncertain. Second, the supposedly “transformative” effect of participatory innovation had been conceptually overlooked, and needed to be unpacked to reflect the various outcomes observed empirically. The range of possible outcomes for participatory reforms could be measured from a number of perspectives, all more or less clearly associated with the concept of deepening democracy defined in terms of institutionalization and stability, institutional change, public policies, associational vitality and participation rates, transparency, and so on. If empirical studies have clearly moved away from the “celebratory phase,” now accounting for the inherently uncertain results of participatory reforms (Avritzer 2009b), we still lack a comprehensive understanding of how such reforms affect democracy (Wampler and McNulty 2011), and the quality of its institutions, processes, and practices. This is partly due to confusion over the definition and the indicators of the most successful outcome participatory democracy could have: “democratic deepening.” There are three main ways by which the “democratic” impact of local participatory democracy has been assessed in recent scholarship. First, democratic deepening has been looked at from the perspective of civil society empowerment, that is, increasing participation rate, the vitality of CSOs and community activism at the local level as indicators of democratic success (Baiocchi 2005; Wampler and Avritzer 2004; Nylen 2003; Canel

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2011). Second, the quality of government and the efficiency of accountability mechanisms have also been a way of defining democratic success, measured through indicators of public policy performance, and government responsiveness (Peruzzoti 2012). Third, social justice and well-being are also measured through redistributive impacts, poverty, and inequality reduction (Touchton and Wampler, 2014; Boulding and Wampler 2010). Together, these indicators document the range and variety of impacts participatory democracy innovations can have. Taken separately, however, they all remain only partial assessments of their impact on the quality of democracy—its inclusiveness and accountability. While the scholarship looks more or less directly at the transformative potential of participatory democracy, it assesses this transformation on either the state or society. Deepening democracy, however, means transforming both the state and society, and their relationship. Thus, focusing on changes and continuities in the nature of state-society relationships emerging through and around participatory mechanisms is a much better indicator of democratic deepening and, I contend, yields a better understanding of how participatory innovation affects democracy, and its institutions, processes, and, most important, practices.

How Do State-Society Relationships Matter? Participatory democracy scholars do not explicitly understand democratic deepening as the product of a transformation of state-society relationships, even though institutionalized spaces for citizen participation are assumed to have a “transformative” potential. Enduring clientelism is nonetheless often considered to be the manifestation of traditional and unequal relationships that weaken the quality of democracy, which participatory mechanisms should contribute to overcoming. Participatory democracy provides citizens with formal channels through which to make demands of the state regarding its redistribution priorities and for the state to respond to these demands. Under the right institutional and historical circumstances, it is argued, these new channels not only increase the transparency and responsiveness of the redistributive process but can also decrease the need (and possibly the will) to resort to clientelistic forms of political exchange in which resources are unequally allocated to those with privileged and personal access to the state. Among the first observers of PB in Porto Alegre, Rebecca Abers’ account concludes that it


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“mobilized neighborhood groups, discouraged clientelistic forms of neighborhood action” (Abers 1998, 512). Comparing three Brazilian participatory mechanisms, Avritzer suggests that PB presents an alternative to traditional forms of political mediation, and leads to better equity in distribution of public resources, reinforcing neighborhood associations that structure the public space, and “undermining the traditional patterns of patronage, political favors, privatism” (Avritzer 2009b, 21). In the same vein, Baiocchi contends that Porto Alegre has achieved social justice through better redistribution and more civic spirit and legitimacy, as well as good governance, meaning transparency, increased resources, and reduced clientelism (Baiocchi 2005). The fundamental characteristic of PB is that it “marks a dramatic break in the patronage-driven politics that have long dominated municipal budgeting in Brazil. ( . . . ) Devolving decision-making authority downward and into the hands of local actors increases transparency” (Baiocchi et al., 8–9). Thus, because it empowers civil society and aims at increasing state accountability and transparency, that is, reducing or eliminating corruption and clientelism, PB has the potential to deepen democratic practices (Goldfrank 2011), a vision that is widely present in the participatory democracy literature. Conversely, institutional innovation for participatory democracy does not necessarily mean the disappearance of clientelistic ties and of patronclient relationships (Wampler 2007; Garcia-Guadilla and Perez 2002; Montambeault 2011; Montambeault and Goirand 2015). There are different modes of linking politicians and citizens in democratic polities, and clientelism is one of them. As an informal relationship between politicians and citizens, clientelism is not static and could survive a transition to democracy: it can take various forms and functions and it can adapt to the new context where political parties become clientelistic machines (Eisenstadt and Roniger 1981; Roniger 1994). As Kitschelt (2000) has suggested, “modern” clientelism can be institutionalized and, as such, can function as a means of securing the stability and durability of democratic regimes. Traditional face-to-face patron-client ties are incorporated into a broader and more impersonal institutional framework, usually political parties (Lemarchand 1981). As the Mexican case suggests, clientelism can be sustained as a strategic response to growing popular participation in order to secure votes at the local level and to increase political influence at the center, a classic strategy employed by political entrepreneurs to gain

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power within state institutions (Fernández-Kelly and Shefner 2006; Piattoni 2001). The exchange is understood less in terms of a personal relationship between two individuals and more as defined by political parties and included within the activity of the elected governments, through targeted programs and policies that aim to secure the support of certain social groups and clients (Roniger 2004; Gay 1998). As explained by Kitschelt and Wilkinson (2007), politicians’ accountability then does not rest on the ability to deliver public services and policies according to their program, but rather on their ability to satisfy their clients’ needs, which they call clientelistic accountability. Thus, as clientelism is an evolving informal structure, it can adapt to the new democratic institutional forms, including participatory democracy, with leaders and clients finding new ways to define their relationship and linkages (Montambeault and Goirand 2015). Although strengthening clientelistic relationships may be a common outcome of participatory democracy, the conventional dichotomy between democracy and clientelism is problematic. Looking at their micro-articulation through an ethnographic approach that accounts for how formal and informal power relationships play out between the state and society, but also within each of these groups of actors, reveals the inherent limits to this dichotomy. It does not allow us to fully grasp the inherently complex and multifaceted nature of state-society relationships in participatory institutions, and it also falls into the trap of conceptual stretching, including as clientelistic some forms of relationships and practices that would best be otherwise defined (Hilgers 2011). Democracy does not mean everything that is not clientelistic, and clientelism does not mean everything that is not democratic. As Latin American countries and cities transition toward pluralistic and competitive democratic regimes, social relations and political exchanges have become more complex than the reality this categorical dualism could capture. To attain a more comprehensive theory of local participatory democracy, we must redefine success, accounting for the way state-society relationships shape the quality of democracy, and also for the range of state-society relationships that may emerge from the formal and informal interactions in participatory mechanisms. A better definition and differentiation of the complex reality of state-society relations not only is conceptually important but also has serious theoretical implications. The variation in levels of success observed across local participatory experiences, in the transformation of state-society relationships, reveals the wide


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and differentiated range of impacts these institutional reforms have on the deepening of the quality of democracy. This book’s approach to understanding the variation in level of democratic success of participatory innovations in part builds on the argument from Baiocchi et al. (2011) for a relational approach, looking at what they call “existing civil societies,” or an understanding of civil society that bridges the traditional institutional-associational divide. Participatory democracy innovations are, theoretically at least, meant to deepen the quality of local democratic governance by allowing members of a society to engage with the state in the social construction of effective citizenship.3 Their assumption is that the existence of a strong civil society—defined as a “space of practices” and not only as the realm of civic associations that conforms it—remains the main determinant of democratization in PB experiences. Although they look at civil society in relational terms that include the “regime of statesociety relationships in creating a context for the functioning of civil society” (Baiocchi et al. 2011), their findings still focus only on the practices of civil society per se. The focus of the argument is a bit different, though, as it contends that participatory institutions might create opportunities for civil society to emerge and thrive, at the same time that they also affect how political and state actors think and strategize about policy responses to social demands, about their linkages with their constituents, and about the democratic process more generally. Moreover, and this is something revealed by moving the comparison beyond the Brazilian cases, participatory democracy mechanisms do not affect only how civil society engages with the local state but also how individuals engage with civil society organizations, and in certain cases directly with the state. Hence, even though participatory democracy may have an impact on civil society and the way it engages with the local state, state-society relationships cannot be subsumed to civil society and should be assessed on their own. A focus on state-society relationships that brings out their complexity requires not only that we redefine the traditional clientelism-democracy categories, but also that we look at their micro-articulations in both formal and informal institutions. This is especially important for the study of participatory democracy institutions, as they can create spaces for this transformation to happen, for civil society to become a more autonomous, sustaining, or “bootstrapping” democracy. Looking at both the formal (regulated by participatory mechanisms) and informal practices (around and

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outside the mechanisms) reveals that this is not necessarily the case. Civil societies—or the relationships between the state and society—are not necessarily reconfigured through extended participation, because such a transformation depends on institutional opportunities as well as on politics. Participatory democracy creates a public space sanctioned by the state and can empower civil society actors, but it is the way it is used and appropriated by both state and society actors that matters more in understanding the micro-articulations of their relationship, the quality of the democratic process, and the outcomes that result from such participation.

Va r i e t i e s of S tat e-S o c i e t y R el ationships: A T ypology Central to society’s strength and ability to engage in democratic relationships and practices with the state is its capacity to mobilize and organize, as well as its autonomy vis-à-vis the state. Focusing on the nature of state-society relationships as the main indicator of success entails reconceptualization of the notion of participation itself and of the associated mobilization processes. The nature of state-society relationships in participatory processes mostly depends on which groups and actors enter the spaces of participation, and how they do it. On the one hand, if the central tenet of the literature on local participatory governance is the idea that citizen participation matters, it is not just the quantitative but also the qualitative aspect of citizen participation that needs to be taken into account. What matters is not only that civic organizations and individuals participate but also “who comes to represent citizens in the participatory spheres” (Cornwall and Coelho 2007, 6). In fact, what makes these particular initiatives different from previous approaches to participation is that they explicitly conceive of participation as the exercise of citizenship, as “the practice though which individuals and groups formulate and claim for new rights of struggle to expand or maintain existing rights” (Isin and Wood 1999, 4). On the other hand, there is also a need to look at citizen participation in relation to the state, its institutions, and its members, including elected politicians, because their goals and strategies toward participation have an important impact on the capacity of civil society to become an autonomous space for citizens to collectively interact and press demands on the state.


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In order to identify the conditions for success of local participatory institutions, a typological theory (George and Bennett 2004) is developed to better assess the nature of democratic success and look at the range of possible state-society relationship outcomes. In fact, participation per se remains an ambiguous ideal that needs to be qualified to make more sense in decision-making processes (de Sousa Santos and Avritzer 2004). In an institutionalized context, citizen participation is different from what it is in noninstitutional spaces, presupposing close interactions between the state and society within formal public spaces occupied by both types of actors. This institutionalization of participation can be “transformative,” but it also comes with a set of specific challenges. As Warren has suggested, governments can “coopt civil society organizations [and individual participants] in such a way that they lose their capacities to represent their constituencies” (Warren 2009, 11). This lack of autonomy strengthens exclusion and weakens accountability mechanisms. Civil society organizations are also unevenly capable of organizing, demanding, and delivering public policy outcomes in cooperation with the local state, favoring already strong organizations (Warren 2009; Nylen 2003). Participatory institutions do not necessarily engage collective actors into mobilization processes, and may fragment society rather than foster community building and civil society organization. For all these reasons, even though it is important to identify who participates, it is critical to understand how they do so—in relation to both the local state and the larger society (Cornwall 2008).

The Two Dimensions of State-Society Relationships In the context of participatory governance, two main dimensions thus define the nature of emerging state-society relationships: how participants are mobilized as individuals or as collective actors, and the level of autonomy enjoyed by participants in their interactions with the state. Both dimensions are central to the argument that deepening the quality of democracy not only is a matter of institutions or civil society organizations but most importantly requires a deep transformation in state-society relationships: the state and society. It looks at the relation between the state and society as co-constitutive but also moves beyond the focus on civil society and, as such, accounts for the mechanisms underlying this relationship, from both sides. Mobilization and autonomy uncover the formal and informal mechanisms and practices

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defining their interactions, how they engage in the participatory process as complex actors with internal dynamics and in interaction with one another. This approach provides for a better account of how the state, society, and their relationships are co-constituted and transformed within the formal spaces of participation, but also through practices of social mobilization and strategies of political control deployed by state actors. It is the variation along the two dimensions that, together, contributes to identifying the range of outcomes for local participatory democracy institutions across cases, creating four ideal types of state-society relationships (see Figure 2.1, p. 37).4 As the comparative case study shows, these types have differentiated effects on the deepening of democracy. A cooperative relationship between an inclusive and responsive local state and a strong and autonomous civil society within decentralized institutions allowing collective mobilization processes is more likely to become “democratizing,” that is, to sustain the strengthening of accountability mechanisms and the social construction of citizenship rights by giving voice to the previously excluded and universalizing access to basic services and public goods. Conversely, the sustainability of clientelism—based on unequal exchanges, informal ties, and personal connections—hinders participatory institutions from becoming “democratizing,” sustaining social exclusion and inefficient accountability mechanisms. Beyond this binary conception of state-society relationships, and reflecting their complexity, intermediary outcomes also arise with, as we shall see, more ambiguous effects on the deepening of democracy: disempowering cooption and fragmented inclusion. Type of Mobilization: Particularistic or Collective?  Citizen mobilization— how people organize and formulate claims and demands to the state—and their engagement in participatory processes can be carried out by individuals or through civil society organizations. Mobilization can therefore be individualistic and fragmented or collective and organized. As a corollary, demands formulated can also be articulated toward particularistic or collective aims. As the product of the struggle and cooperation patterns characterizing statesociety relationships, the deepening of democracy should entail a specific concern for how citizens mobilize and engage in participatory processes, constitutive of the strength of civil society. This is especially true in contemporary democratizing societies, plagued with growing social inequalities and social exclusion articulated from the state. For local participatory institutions to contribute to the deepening of democracy, they need to enable and sustain


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collective forms of social action geared toward defining the common good so as to nurture civil society’s organizational capacity and ability to enter into an equal relation with the state. In fact, organizational capacity is a crucial resource for those traditionally excluded segments of the population who lack influence and power (Rueschemeyer 1998, 9), such as the marginalized groups targeted by local participatory governance initiatives. Moreover, and even if their expression is more powerful, shared collective interests are not a given among extremely needy local communities; they are socially constructed. It is the process of collective organization that defines the common interest (Rueschemeyer 1998), shaping individuals’ preferences through the collective participation and deliberation process. Mobilization types can be understood as a spectrum, ranging from the more organized and structured forms of collective action, where individuals participate as members of groups organized around a variety of collectively defined interests, to the most particularistic, fragmented, and individual forms of citizen participation.5 Even if numerical indications of the way people mobilize and the number of public meetings held in each case can reveal certain patterns of mobilization, they cannot account for actual and often informal mobilization practices, which only interviews can reveal. Indicators of the nature of mobilization are found in the nature of participants (groups vs. individuals), in the level of organization among citizens prior to their participation in formal meetings, in the existence of active collaborative networks among participants and/ or groups, and in the nature of the demands formulated (individual needs vs. collective goods). The more mobilization is particularistic and oriented toward private goods, the less impact formal mechanisms of participation at the local level have on transforming unequal and state-society relationships on the basis of personal connections and informal exchanges, and the less likely they are to become effective accountability mechanisms fostering inclusive citizenship. By contrast, the more mobilization is collectivistic and oriented toward the common good, the more formal mechanisms can become a space for developing a strong civil society that can interact with the state in a more cooperative and democratic relationship, thereby strengthening accountability and deepening democracy at the local level. Level of Autonomy: From Controlled to Autonomous Participation How citizens mobilize and engage in participatory mechanisms is important to the transformation of state-society relationships. However, the level of

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autonomy citizens and CSOs enjoy in their interactions with the local government is even more crucial in defining the possibilities for citizens to actually influence the course of the local governance process meaningfully. According to the early observers of participatory mechanisms in developing countries, one of the main problems was that their introduction into local governance institutions involved the state, which was itself the source of power inequalities in the first place. They argue that participatory mechanisms should only involve direct and independent participation of all citizens, that is, of the entire community (MacPherson 1982; Midgley 1986). This conception, however, fails to consider the fact that the state is central to enactment of participatory reforms. The state is the main actor involved in power and resource redistribution from which civil society cannot be isolated (Dagnino 2002; Dagnino et al. 2006). The state is also the central actor in formulating and implementing policies that affect the community (Mejía Líra 1999). Isolating the community from the state does not maximize the democratizing potential of citizen participation, as the direct interlocutor of participatory processes and citizens. However, defining autonomy in the specific context of institutional spaces for participation presents specific challenges, as the frontier between the state and social actors can become blurred and closer to a form of “political interdependency” (Avritzer 2009a). Autonomy within state channels is indeed very distinct from autonomy from the state. To fully understand how varying levels of autonomy for participants in institutionalized forms of citizen participation interact with the deepening of democratic processes, some analysis of the nature of this autonomy is in order. Autonomy refers to the ability of citizens to participate by formulating preferences and defending their own interests within various channels of the political system without being overly influenced by already organized and represented political forces. Autonomous participation is not a given, however, as participants and institutional mechanisms can be controlled and coopted by leading and influential traditional actors such as political parties and their civil society affiliates, politicians, or the bureaucracy. To measure the level of autonomy citizens enjoy, the degree of involvement of political parties in the various steps of the societal representatives’ selection and of their decision-making process is therefore an important indicator. This is because party members—elected representatives, nonelected members of the parties, and party-affiliated organizations—may capture


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participatory mechanisms and control them or their main leaders through informal mechanisms in order to influence and guide the decision-making process in a way that serves the party or the governing elites’ interests, undermining social accountability mechanisms. This control goes beyond the existence of political affinities between participants and the political representatives who initiate and promote local participatory mechanisms: these affinities can exist and are not used as a proxy for observing often subtler forms of political control and lack of autonomy on the part of participants. Political control, and consequent lack of autonomy, relies on the existence of underlying power structures, often expressed through informal exchanges between unequal participants, where political actors control both the channels for formulating demands and the means for redistribution. Thus the only way to really grasp such informal interactions is to conduct thorough interviews with diverse actors and compare their stories about participation in such mechanisms. Autonomy allows citizens to express dissent and organize independently in order to actually hold politicians and their officials accountable, responsible for their decisions and actions. Clientelism, however, limits autonomy because it creates groups of clients who participate in the political community as beneficiaries of the patrons’ unequal access to power and resources, in a relationship of control, where political support for the incumbents is the prerequisite for receiving necessary state resources. Citizen autonomy can be understood as a spectrum ranging from completely autonomous forms of citizen participation, in which all actors are engaged in the mechanisms of participation as equal partners with the state officials, to “controlled” forms of participation where the participatory mechanisms are captured by the political elite and political parties through informal practices and methods that preclude the autonomous participation of citizens. The more controlled participation is, the less impact formal mechanisms of participation at the local level have in transforming exclusionary clientelistic state-society relationships and, in turn, becoming effective accountability mechanisms and fostering inclusive citizenship. By contrast, the more participation is autonomous, the more formal mechanisms can become a space for developing a heightened cooperative and democratic relationship, thereby contributing to strengthening accountability and deepening democracy.

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High Fragmented Inclusion

Democratic Cooperation


Disempowering Cooption



Level of Autonomy

Low                  Type of Mobilization

figure 2.1  A Typology of State-Society Relationships

The Four Ideal Types Defined The first objective of this study is to better understand how cases vary if democratic deepening is measured by the transformative potential of local participatory democracy innovations on the state, society, and their relationships. As explained above, this transformation can be observed through two main processes: the nature of the mobilization processes they generate, ranging from collective to individual mobilization patterns, and the level of autonomy such participation reflects, ranging from controlled to autonomous participation. As shown in Figure 2.1, the variation on these two dimensions results in four ideal types: Clientelism  A combination of a high level of political control over participatory mechanisms and participants and a predominance of individually based mobilization processes organized around the formulation and direct channeling of particularistic demands contributes to the predominance of clientelistic relationships beyond institutional reform. The pervasiveness of unequal state-society relationships nurtured by the prevalence of clientelistic interactions in participatory institutions may


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impair the democratizing value of participatory democracy reforms. Having unequal access to resources and power, the state and society relate to one another on the basis of an exchange of material or symbolic resources in return for political support and legitimacy. On the one hand, it puts society in a weak position vis-à-vis the state, curtailing its groups’ ability to collectively mobilize, demand inclusion, and engage in the social construction of citizenship. This, in turn, creates two classes of citizens: those who are clients and have access to the state and those who are not and are consequently excluded from having access to citizenship rights. On the other hand, it also limits the prospects for making vertical and social accountability more effective. It curtails citizens’ autonomy by placing them in a position of dependence vis-à-vis the state for obtaining material and symbolic resources. Autonomy, however, is central to strengthening social accountability mechanisms and, consequently, to deepening democratic governance quality (Fox 1994). Disempowering Cooption  A combination of a high level of political control over participatory institutional mechanisms, participants, and the collective mobilization processes empowering civil society organizations on one side and citizens as collective actors in formulating demands on the other side sustains the development of disempowering cooption. This type of relationship differs from clientelism, a dyadic relationship between individuals. By contrast, disempowering cooption involves collective actors, who mobilize and formulate demands for collective public goods. From the cooption of their main leaders by controlling political elites, collective actors enjoy an unequal and exclusive relationship with the state (Montambeault 2012). On the one hand, disempowering cooption allows civil society groups to organize and collectively demand inclusion. At the same time, however, this type of relationship creates privileged relationships with those who are coopted by the state, strengthening social exclusion. It also disempowers collective actors mobilized and engaged with the local state in participatory mechanisms by making their main leaders political brokers, whose legitimacy and power depends on their ability to access privileged political and economic resources for their community. The relationship remains unequal and exclusionary, and it curtails disempowered collective actors’ ability to play their democratic accountability role.

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Fragmented Inclusion  A combination of autonomy for participants within participatory mechanisms and of the individualistic mobilization processes engaging citizens pursuing particularistic demands independently of one another sustains development of fragmented inclusion. This type of relationship is characterized by the autonomy of the individuals who participate with the local state actors in the process, but it differs from democratic cooperation. Participants are able to autonomously formulate demands of the state and are more likely to be included through formal institutional channels, but they do so individually, and not as collective actors mobilized as such. Society remains, however, fragmented through its participation in local decision-making mechanisms. Individuals may learn civil and democratic skills through the process, but it does not translate into the blossoming of organized and pluralistic CSOs that can collectively organize and demand inclusion. Decision making may be more transparent, but collective accountability mechanisms remain underdeveloped and weak, based on a disorganized and fragmented society. Thus, because mobilization remains individualistic, local participatory mechanisms are but limited spaces to foster the social construction of citizenship and make the local state accountable. Democratic Cooperation  A combination of a high level of autonomy for participants in the formal channels provided by municipal participatory institutions with activation of collective mobilization processes at the grass roots tends to sustain the development of democratic cooperation between the state and society. Cooperation does not mean that the state and society agree on priorities and on policy outcomes. Based on the mobilization of collective actors and an autonomous form of citizen participation, this cooperation implies a political interdependency between social actors and the state (Avritzer 2009a), but it is not antithetical to autonomy, that is, not synonymous with independence from the state, but rather autonomy within the state structures. In participatory democracy institutions, autonomy and collective action are central to cooperation, hence not substituting for or hampering other forms of collective action such as protest, public debate, or social mobilization outside the participatory apparatus. At the same time, such a relationship transforms the state and society in a way


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that strengthens society’s ability to demand social inclusion of the state and collectively participate in the social construction of citizenship, but also to make societal and participatory accountability mechanisms more effective. Addressing the link between the nature of state-society relations and the deepening of democracy from a comparative perspective, I argue that a cooperative relationship between an inclusive and responsive local state and a strong and autonomous civil society within decentralized institutions allowing collective mobilization processes at the grass roots is more likely to become “democratizing,” that is, lead to the social construction of more inclusive citizenship regimes and strengthen accountability mechanisms. On the contrary, the sustainability of clientelistic state-society relationships within participatory mechanisms tends to hinder their potential for becoming “democratizing” public spaces, sustaining unequal exchanges, the prevalence of informal ties and personal connections in resource redistribution, and, consequently, social exclusion and inefficient accountability mechanisms. Intermediate outcomes can also arise, such as fragmented inclusion and disempowering cooption, both having ambiguous consequences for the deepening of democracy and the social construction of citizenship, as we will see throughout the case analyses. In contexts where clientelism is the traditional mode employed by the state to connect with society, development of such a cooperative and democratizing relationship cannot be explained exclusively by the existence of participatory institutions, which is the basic common feature of all the selected cases. Such a relationship is more likely to develop when the institutional change is undertaken in the presence of a combination of structural, institutional, and agency variables that, together, foster collective mobilization processes at the grass roots and autonomous forms of participation by civil society actors with the state. Such a theoretical proposition, as it entails observation of variation across cases along the two dimensions of the typology—mobilization and autonomy—needs to be empirically documented and explained further, a task that this book undertakes.

Conclusion This chapter proposes that a reconceptualization of success is needed to better account for the “transformative” potential of participatory democracy

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on the state, society, and their relationship, hence for the deepening of democracy. A typology of state-society relationships to understand how cases vary was developed along two dimensions: the nature of mobilization processes observed in participatory institutions, and the level of autonomy enjoyed by participants in the process. Four ideal types of state-society relationships can thus emerge from participatory institutions at the local level: clientelism, disempowering cooption, fragmented inclusion, and democratic cooperation. Deepening the quality of democratic governance entails a deep change in state-society relationships—a challenge to which introducing local participatory democracy institutions could contribute, and one whose complex dynamics still need to be better understood from a comparative standpoint. However important their participation is, citizens and civil society actors cannot be considered in isolation from their relationship to state officials and politicians within participatory democracy itself. Politics is central to both the participatory and the decisional processes. Politicians have the capacity to use their privileged access to both material and symbolic resources, even within the framework of participatory democratic institutions (Montambeault 2011, 2012). They do not necessarily have the will to do so. On the other hand, social actors may have the will to resist political control, but in the particular context of the Latin American cases of participatory democracy they may not have the capacity to do so. Scarce resources directed toward the poor, who have no other access to power, can become a survival strategy (Combes 2011). The reasons these various combinations of will and capacity at the levels of both state and society actors are articulated in formal participatory mechanisms, but also in informal practices, yet remain unveiled. The next chapter offers an integrated approach to explain the variation in state-society relationships that builds on the idea that institutions might well provide a space for the emergence of democratic practices and renewed state-society relationships, but that politics matters. As such, it takes an innovative comparative approach within and across countries to look not only at the characteristics of participatory institutions but also at the actors involved (or not) in the process, their strategies, and their interactions.


Why Do Cases Vary? A Comparative Approach

If existing explanations enlighten one aspect or another of the complex range of impacts local participatory institutions might have, their understanding of democracy remains incomplete, and their empirical assessment, if based on limited comparison, only feeds the confusion around the definition of success. This chapter presents an integrated approach to understanding the dynamics underlying the varieties of state-society relationships developed through participatory democracy innovations. Research has found that levels of democratic success for local participation vary across countries, coming as they do from different associational traditions and implementing a number of participatory model types. But they also vary within countries, across cities, where associational configurations and political may also differ. Taken separately, those two types of comparison generate interesting insights, but some lessons can be learned from a larger comparison that accounts for variation in both countries. In an effort to bring the study of participatory institutions a step further and to generate a wide-ranging set of explanations, I offer a paired comparison (both within and across countries) within the same research design that provides for a better understanding of state-society relationships.

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This chapter presents a general overview of the national and local contexts within which the four municipalities implemented local participatory democracy institutions, and it presents the similarities and differences in background conditions and institutional models across cases. In so doing, it engages with existing explanations for democratic success and builds on them to present a more comprehensive approach that accounts for the complexity of state-society relationship, while taking actors, institutions, and interactions into account.

Five Cases, Four Outcomes In redefining how we define the democratic success of local participatory institutions, one objective of this study is to better understand why cases vary. As argued, local participatory democracy innovations can affect state-society relationships through two main processes: the nature of the mobilization processes they generate, ranging from collective to individual mobilization patterns, and the level of autonomy such participation reflects, ranging from controlled to autonomous participation. For such an endeavor, cases were selected in two countries that showed some variation within each country, at least from afar. Because they both have had cases of relative success and relative failure with regard to local participatory democracy across two differing institutional models, Mexico and Brazil set very interesting contexts for a paired comparison across and within countries. Here, comparable does not mean equal: rather, it means cases should share similar features and possess a certain level of variation on either the dependent or the independent variables in order to isolate the possible explanatory variables. Thus, the research design includes cases that allow paired comparisons of most similar cases with different outcomes, and of most different cases with similar outcomes. This model allows us to build on existing accounts of participatory democracy to offer a more compelling and comprehensive explanation for success. In Brazil, Belo Horizonte’s participatory budgeting is often cited as a successful case, whereas Recife’s two experiences (1993–2000 and 2001– 2008) with the same program are generally considered to have had a much more limited effect on the deepening of local democracy: a lower level of civic engagement and limited participation. In Mexico, the same variation is found for the municipal participatory planning processes. León’s case is


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generally considered to have generated wider participation and more transparent decision-making processes, whereas Nezahualcóyotl’s participatory planning program is more limited in terms of its impact. Patterns of differentiated variation along the two dimensions of state society across and within countries became clearer, the more the research delved into these cases of “relative success” and “relative failure.” The four cities (five cases) therefore offer compelling stories that make for interesting comparisons and a valuable source for theory building. As Figure 3.2 illustrates, the five cases vary along both dimensions of the typology, each representing one of four ideal types: clientelism, disempowering cooption, fragmented inclusion, and democratic cooperation. None represents an ideal case. They possess different mobilization patterns and levels of autonomy and exhibit various possible outcomes, while confirming our initial assumption about the pluralistic nature of the state-society relationships that can emerge within participatory mechanisms. More specifically, participatory urban planning in both Mexican cases shares similar patterns of reinforced individual mobilization but varies on the level of autonomy observed in the practice of participation. The Brazilian cases differ from the Mexican ones on both dimensions. The indicators behind the classification of all five experiences on the typology are summarized and schematized in Table 3.1, but the detailed findings of each case are presented and explained in Chapters 4–7.

W h y D o W e T h i n k C a se s Va r y ? T h e Ta l e of Fou r C i t i e s C om pa r e d Three main explanations generally account for the mixed record of participatory democracy in practice, stemming from different understandings of democratic success. First, starting from the premise that increased participation rate and formal participatory opportunities are indicators of democratic success, several authors focus on the design of participatory institutions (Fung and Wright 2001; Harbers 2007), identifying those institutional features that can explain varied outcomes. Drawing from a neo-institutional approach, they assume that formal institutions shape actors’ decision-making processes by structuring the realm of possible choices available to them (March and Olsen 1984; Thelen 1999). They argue that participation, to be

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High Fragmented Inclusion

Democratic Cooperation


Belo Horizonte


Disempowering Cooption

Level of Autonomy

Nezahualcóyotl Recife-PFL/PMDB




Low                  Type of Mobilization

figure 3.1  Typology of State-Society Relationships: Classifying Cases

empowering, needs to be institutionalized in the structure of governance and present certain features. It should encourage ordinary citizen participation. Further, institutions should have sufficient decentralized responsibilities and resources (Wampler 2007; Goldfrank 2011), and be integrated under a centralized coordination (Fung and Wright 2001). This approach, however, ignores such contextual factors as agency, which may affect the functioning of these institutions. Neither does it account for those varied results among cases of participatory governance with similar institutional designs. Moreover, an exclusive focus on institutional innovation actually underestimates the importance of informal institutions and practices, the “socially shared rules, usually unwritten, that are created, communicated and enforced outside of officially sanctioned channels” (Helmke and Levitsky 2004, 727). Though formal institutions are in place, how they are used (or bypassed) by political elites is central, as these elites can still use informal channels to undermine their accountability and control functions. A second trend in scholarship focuses on civil society and starts from the assumption that success should be measured by the associational vitality participatory reforms have generated. Drawing lessons from the Porto

table 3.1  Comparing Outcomes: Indicators of State-Society Relationships Indicators Mobilization

Level of Autonomy

Type of Relationship


Individual mobilization • Particularistic demands • Increased but nonorganized participation • Few CSOs—disconnected individuals

Controlled participation • Partisan direct & indirect intervention • Informal ties and practices prevail



Individual mobilization • Particularistic demands • Increased but nonorganized participation • Few CSOs—disconnected individuals

Autonomous participation • No direct & indirect partisan/state intervention • Formal rules and practices prevail

Fragmented inclusion`


Individual mobilization • Particularistic demands • Increased participation • Few CSOs—community leaders as intermediaries

Controlled participation • Partisan direct & indirect intervention • Informal ties and practices prevail



Collective mobilization • Community demands • Increased organized participation • CSOs as mobilization agents

Controlled participation • Partisan direct & indirect intervention • Informal ties and practices prevail

Disempowering cooption

Belo Horizonte

Collective mobilization • Community demands • Increased organized participation • CSOs as mobilization agents

Autonomous participation • No direct & indirect partisan/state intervention • Formal rules and practices prevail

Democratic cooperation

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Alegre case, authors argue that success has to do with the existence of a previous culture of local associationalism (Wampler and Avritzer 2004). The presence of experienced activists and community leaders is generally considered an enabling factor for “quality” public deliberation (Baiocchi 2003). The cultural argument, however, overlooks the possibility for change. Moreover, it underestimates the role of the state in generating new local leaderships and increasing community involvement (Abers 1998). Finally, it cannot account for variation among cases sharing similar histories of social engagement, like our case studies. Finally, in looking at indicators of policy performance and state responsiveness to account for democratic success, a third category of studies focuses on the idea that participatory institutions need to be supported by a strong political will (Wampler 2007), a certain level of unity among the political community (Avritzer 2009b), and an ideological commitment to including citizens in the democratization process (Canel 2011). Critics of such an approach acknowledge that political will should be considered an important dimension of the first stages of reform, can explain institutional differences across experiences, and is a good predictor of sustainability and institutionalization. However, it cannot explain change or continuity in state-society relationships when taken separately from civil society’s responses to institutional change. Mexico and Brazil, and more specifically the four municipalities compared, have been selected in order to control for the validity of these explanations. They all share a certain degree of decentralization and all have a previous history of local associationalism, which was traditionally channeled through clientelistic ties. Moreover, in all four local municipalities, the reforms were implemented from the top down, by local governments motivated by the political will to include “ordinary” citizens better in the governance process. Although the stated goals behind the participatory democracy reforms are similar in both countries, the differences observed in national institutional contexts and in local articulation of clientelism are also useful to understanding why different institutional models were adopted in Mexico and Brazil. However, as exemplified by the paired comparison across and within countries, the variation in outcomes across municipalities within the same country cannot be explained by such institutional differences, thus calling for an integrated approach to understanding the level and dimensions of success.


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Emerging Local Political Spheres and the Importance of Political Will: Paths to Participatory Reforms All four cases of participatory innovation are set in national contexts of fiscal, political, and administrative decentralization, deemed necessary for participatory democracy to thrive. Historically, Mexico and Brazil are both de jure decentralized federations that were traditionally organized de facto in a quite centralized fashion and where municipalities remained politically and financially dependent on upper levels of government. This dependency has also significantly contributed to define local state-society relationships, traditionally articulated around clientelism. Their respective paths toward democratic decentralization and the forms it has taken differ, but both Mexico and Brazil have pursued constitutional reforms explicitly decentralizing powers and empowering municipalities, thereby formally opening the space for institutionalized participatory innovations to develop at the local level in the context of democratization. In Mexico, there is a general agreement that throughout the twentieth century—despite the Constitution of 1917, which stipulates that municipalities are the main locus of local administration as the municipio libre—municipalities have actually enjoyed a very low level of autonomy from the states, which were themselves very dependent on the central government in Mexico City (Merino 1994; Rodriguez 1997; Fagen and Tuohy 1972; Cabrero Mendoza 1995). Under the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) corporatist regime, it was indeed an established convention that “no state governors or local bosses could go against the president’s wishes” (Rodriguez 1997, 19). Clientelism was an important pillar of the party’s supremacy, articulated through both the sophisticated system of elite circulation and the discretionary redistribution of economic resources among lower levels of government (Cornelius 1999). In the context of urbanization, local politicians and bureaucrats could indeed build their support base in exchange for the discretionary distribution of urban resources and services, including basic services such as sewer and water lines, electricity, pavement, or street lighting (Fox 1994; Grindle 1977; Shefner 2001).1 Therefore, patron-client relationships at the local level, based on informal norms of reciprocity and loyalty, are an important building block of the party corporatist structure’s sustainability, with the local patrons getting support from their local bases without

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challenging the highly centralized national organization and system of power and resource distribution. If the Brazilian federation has oscillated between periods of decentralization and periods of high centralism (under the Estado Nôvo regime and the military) since its independence, municipalities were also characterized by a lack of financial and political autonomy in intergovernmental relations. However, municipalities were important: they were the main locus of political support for state politicians and an integral part of the traditional organization of the state, which relied on alliances and networks of support based at the local level (Mainwaring 1999). Traditional state elites’ spheres of power extended during what is called the “Politics of Governors” (1889–1930; Brasileiro 1973), and they remained quite powerful until 1988 through locally based clientelistic networks. State formation in Brazil was marked by coronelismo, a corporatist system that sustained the state governors’ local support base, and it relied on the development of clientelistic state-society relationships articulated by local political brokers (coronels) and state elites. The loyalty of local bosses to traditional state elites was, on the one hand, subject to the capacity of state elites to provide them with resources and private goods in exchange for their support. On the other hand, local bosses—who were generally local landowners acting as both clients of state elites and elected politicians, and as local patrons—used public resources, employment opportunities, and other forms of privileges made available to them by their “patrons” in order to secure the loyalty of their fellow citizens (Cammack 1981; Nunes Leal 1977 [1949]). Thus clientelism has transcended intergovernmental relationships in Brazil, and was especially important at the municipal level as local political brokers had an important role in sustaining political exchanges. In both countries, it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that municipalities gained attention and became the central focus of decentralization reforms. Although decentralization seemed to occur in parallel to the democratization process in both cases, it has been argued that they were not necessarily motivated by genuine democratic political interests (Samuels 2004; Montero and Samuels 2004; Grindle 2007; Rodriguez 1997). In both Mexico and Brazil, decentralization reforms came as a response from the federal government facing important crises of legitimacy (Grindle 2000). In Mexico, the context of economic crisis and the lack of political legitimacy of the PRI during the late 1970s converged to prompt the series


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of decentralization reforms adopted by the federal government between 1983 and 1999, a top-down strategy employed by PRI leaders to reassert their local support networks (Grindle 2007; Mizrahi 2004). In Brazil, empowerment of municipalities started under the military, motivated by a need to secure its own legitimacy, and a desire to curtail the power of state traditional elites (de Medeiro 1994; Samuels 2004). Municipalities and local politicians became more significant as the municipalista movement, bringing together the countries’ municipalities, gained influence during the transition to democracy and further constitutional discussions. Originally a bureaucratic organization that was more concerned with local modernization than municipal autonomy, the municipalista movement—led by the Associação Brasileira dos Municipios (ABM, Brazilian Municipalities Association) and the Instituto Brasileiro de Administração Municipal (IBAM, Brazilian Institute for Municipal Administration)—played an important role in the discussions of the 1988 Constitutional Assembly, using its influence with Congress members to demand more autonomy in the conduct of municipalities’ daily administration, along with more resources to do so (Flávio 2008). As a consequence of this influence, and along with automatic fiscal transfers implemented under Cardoso, the Constitution of 1988 thus reasserted the direct municipal-central government relationships. Thus, in both cases, the reforms were ultimately implemented from the top down by political elites who wanted to retain their legitimacy, and not as the result of citizen pressures. In Mexico, political decentralization dates back to 1977, when all representatives at the municipal councils were first elected through competitive elections. It is, however, through the establishment and strengthening of the Sistema Nacional de Planeación Democrática (SNDP), established by President de la Madrid in 1983, and the constitutional reforms of 1983 and 19992 decentralizing fiscal powers and responsibilities to municipal governments, that there have been important advances toward administrative and fiscal decentralization. It is indeed the SNPD that laid the legal foundations for the participatory mechanisms implemented in Mexican municipalities since 1983 and that explains the focus on urban planning—rather than on budgeting, as in Brazil—taken by participatory decentralization reforms in the country. The framework included creation of the Comités para la Planeación del Desarrollo Estatal y Municipal (COPLADE, State and Municipal Development Planning Committees), composed of representatives of

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the state and local governments and of all sectors of the society. In theory, participation of these committees in the planning process constituted the condition with which states had to comply in order to receive the federal transfers. In Brazil, the 1988 Constitution has also come to represent an important break with the past, granting the municipalities legal status and bringing them to the center of the political process and entrenching the principle of citizen participation in local governance. In fact, the “Constituição Cidadã” (Guimarães 1988) brings with it the idea of decentralization within the municipalities themselves, institutionalizing the idea following which “cooperation of the representative associations in municipal planning” is required (República Federativa do Brasil 1988 [2007], art. 29–12). The new status of municipalities was, in both cases, formally entrenched in the Constitution. Though unevenly implemented across the country, such status contributed to a dramatic increase in the level of autonomy and of resources available for municipalities. If the policy prescriptions for local participatory democracy reforms were only loosely institutionalized and implemented locally, decentralization has set the stage for adoption of participatory democracy reforms at the municipal level. In fact, the competitive environment created at the municipal level has opened up opportunities for opposition parties and urban social movements to emerge and innovate in order to build their own legitimacy. Overall, Brazil is more decentralized than Mexico today, a fact that can be explained by the countries’ divergent paths toward decentralization. Nonetheless, when understood in relational terms, the differences are less significant for the success of participatory democracy than it would initially appear. Participatory democracy is a local and very much contextualized phenomenon. If a minimum level of decentralization is necessary for these reforms to be implemented in the first place and for their ability to produce policy outcomes, neither condition is sufficient for local success. Despite sharing similar levels of decentralization and municipal autonomy over political, fiscal, and administrative resources, variation in state-society relationship outcomes between cases within the same country persists.

Shared Histories of Previous Civic Engagement It is common to argue that Brazil’s singular history of associationalism explains its overarching “success” with participatory democracy. The four


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cases selected for this study, however, show that even though organized differently, both Mexico and Brazil share a tradition of local associationalism and civic activism predating participatory innovation. This is important, as we know that preexisting networks of social organization constitute a favorable condition (if not preexisting) for participatory democracy to emerge and thrive at the local level (Wampler and Avritzer 2004; Baiocchi 2005; Baiocchi, Heller, and Kunrath Silva 2008). If citizen participation was not completely absent at the municipal level, it was entrenched in clientelistic dynamics and prevailing informal political exchanges in all four cases, as the empirical chapters further detail. Citizen committees were generally captured by the PRI elites in Mexico, and neighborhood associations by local political brokers in Brazil. Unlike many cities in Mexico, Nezahualcóyotl has a long tradition of social participation (Arzaluz Solano 2002), built both by its residents and by its most influential economic and social actors in the 1960s. Social groups have historically been highly dependent on their political affiliations to parties and politicians. During the rule of the PRI, most local social groups were either repressed or coopted within the corporatist party structure via large popular sector organizations such as the CNOP. These social organizations, although the social backbone of the official governing party, also constituted the framework for citizens’ claim making, articulated through a vertically integrated system of interest intermediation, dominated by local leaders who could resolve ordinary citizens’ individual problems in return for loyalty (Selee 2011). Thus a system of clientelistic political exchanges has developed throughout formation of the city, with individual citizens going directly to established local political brokers to gain privileged access to goods and services distributed by the municipal authorities. With the opening of the electoral arena to opposition political forces in the early 1980s, the structure of civil society has become more pluralistic, including new social organizations emerging from the growing leftist opposition parties and from ruptures within the PRI-affiliated organizations such as the CNOP (Bolos 2003). Despite a certain degree of pluralism, the logic of state intervention and interest intermediation of these social organizations has not fundamentally changed. In fact, only a few social organizations registered in the city of Nezahualcóyotl are self-declared independent from the three main political parties, with most of them affiliated with the PRI or the PRD (Palma Galván 2007). As Bolos suggests, “social organizations

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in Neza, more than governing, have become intermediaries between the government (within which they take part) and society” (2003, 287). As suggested by observers (Bolos 2003; Palma Galván 2007), patterns of social mobilization tend to remain heavily linked to political parties and partyaffiliated social organizations established and active in local communities, directly providing basic social services that the local government fails to offer on the basis of individual demands from residents. Though it was organized on different ideological grounds, León shares with Nezahualcóyotl its singular history of active social mobilization in the Mexican postrevolutionary context (Shirk 1999; Valencia García 1996). León, however, is a particularly interesting case as it has a history of oppositional social activism at the local level in the postrevolutionary period. During this period, most social activism was channeled through the Catholic Church and right-wing movements. Oppositional social forces and leaders were, however, generally contained and routed through the corporatist channels of political parties, either the PRI or to a lesser extent the PAN. Political opposition to the PRI existed, but the city’s history of mobilization was deeply marked by the violent repression of 1946. Moreover, the PAN remained a disorganized and marginal political force between electoral periods in León, lowering its impact on generating sustainable and challenging opposition to the regime before the opening of the local electoral arena in the 1980s. As in most Mexican municipalities, the PRI’s hegemony was consolidated through development of clientelistic networks within which key civil society actors were entrenched. Demand making mostly remained channeled through these networks, and citizens used personal connections to political brokers to access urban services and resources that were not otherwise made available by the local government. Contrary to many other Brazilian cities, Recife is known for a long tradition of citizen participation and associational life at the community level, as neighborhood associations have been active on the political arena since the 1940s, mostly organized around land-tenure issues (do Céu Cézar 1985). Observers, however, suggest that neighborhood associations, though sometimes resorting to contention and conflict with local authorities, have historically privileged the use of personal connections to political entrepreneurs to bring concrete benefits to their community. The arrival of the repressive military regime in 1964 did not mean the end of participation in Recife, but it limited the scope of action of organized civil society actors.


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In fact, throughout this period of low-intensity mobilization, local leaders maintained a certain level of social organization to secure their leadership position, often acting as the intermediary between the authoritarian government and marginalized citizens. Moreover, the local authoritarian state’s need for legitimacy pressed the appointed government to find ways of establishing ties in the communities through the existing leaderships. Therefore, they continued to encourage state-sponsored local community organization in Recife through establishment of the so-called barracões (community cabins), local entities of community planning where questions of urban development were discussed with community leaders (Barbosa da Silva and Chaves Teixeira 2007). With the opening of the political scene to electoral competition and democratic elections in the early 1980s, Recife’s civil society structure became more pluralistic, including social organizations that had remained subtly active under the military regimes, supporting the emerging opposition forces at the left end of the political spectrum and working behind Vasconcelos’ candidacy. In an anthropological study of the organizational structure of the neighborhood associations in Recife published in 1996, Souto-Maior Fontes highlights the centrality and closeness of the relationship local community leaders have with groups such as political parties, which supply most of the association leaders’ funding attributed along clientelistic lines. As he observed, “the links of community leaders with groups not only are an instrument of political socialization. The group to which they belong is also an important instrument for the promotion of their own leadership [ . . . ], and allows them a certain power (which is translated into votes)” (Souto-Maior Fontes 1996, 48). Following these observations about the centrality of personal relationships and given the few collective mobilizations encouraged by community association leaders, Souto-Maior Fontes questioned the participatory nature of community associations, which have been dominated by political brokers rather than being the space for collective mobilization processes to emerge. Therefore, even in pluralistic contexts, Recife’s “community leaders favored the ‘channeling’ of demands through them rather than through direct group negotiation with public officials” (Wampler and Avritzer 2004, 304). Though Belo Horizonte was historically relatively conservative, and though leftist movements had only marginal importance in the city in its early days, it is also known for having an important history of community associationalism starting in the 1940s, mostly tied to the urbanization and

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later “favelization” of the periphery. Associationalism in Belo Horizonte had developed into a system of privileges and political interest mediation, where associations and their leaders were mostly dependent on their personal connections with local politicians to channel their demands to the state. Under the military regime, low-intensity mobilization was the rule, and local authorities also built particularistic and privileged ties with specific community leaders to foster their legitimacy (Fernandes 1993). Nonetheless, certain local leaders remained active in their communities via creation of the CEBs on the part of the Catholic Church and, later, via their affiliation with underground social movements associated with reemerging leftist political parties opposing the military rule. The rise of opposition parties in the aftermath of the transition to democracy coincided with a growth in the number of associations in Belo Horizonte. Throughout this period, neighborhood associations and social movements developed very close ties with traditional political actors, such as political parties using their support as a way to get closer to the local state and access resources. Mobilization patterns were thus generally characterized by their individualism and resort to personal connections and political brokers to access private and public goods (Avritzer 2005; Hagopian 1996). Thus quite active but clientelistic associationalism best describes the history of social organization in all four municipalities. As the empirical chapters demonstrate, the preexisting networks of citizen participation were necessary for fostering successful implementation of local participatory mechanisms. Previous associationalism alone, though important, cannot explain the variation in outcomes—state-society relationships—observed across cases.

The Participatory Models: Common Goals, Distinct Institutional Designs Although the starting point for participatory reforms in Brazil and Mexico can be found in the desire of an emerging political alternative to the established order at the local level to overcome traditional local power structures, the format that such reforms have taken in both cases differs. As the current literature has already highlighted, differences in the institutional design of participatory mechanisms are worth considering. These differences affect mobilization patterns in democratizing contexts, a hypothesis


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that will be tested in the comparative case study. They do not, however, sufficiently address the question at hand, as the observed variation within each country suggests. Mobilization is only one dimension defining state-society relationships, and local context matters to assessment of participants’ levels of autonomy in its various forms. In fact, if mobilization patterns are influenced by the institutional context within which they are taking place, actors’ strategies and behaviors within these institutions are also a core element in defining state-society relationships as they affect the development of autonomous participation. There is an interaction effect between the institutional and agency factors that is captured by the two-dimensional typology developed in this study. In both Mexico and Brazil, political will is an important component of the implementation of local participatory reforms. In both cases, participatory governance is encouraged by the Constitution. There is no prescription, however, for imposing a given participatory mechanism on municipal governments. Local administrations therefore have some room to maneuver as to how, and to what extent, they include citizens in local decision-making processes. And both Mexico and Brazil present great variation across municipalities in this regard (Cabrero Mendoza 1998, 2006; Baiocchi et al. 2008). In all selected municipalities, the reforms came from the top down: in the context of the political opening of the electoral sphere, as an initiative of a newly elected party that challenged the established political order. Moreover, it has also been argued that part of the participatory rhetoric comes from a more “leftist” view of citizen participation, and many have associated successful participatory reforms in Latin America with the emergence of the Left as a viable alternative for the establishment parties. In two cases, León and Recife, the political alternative and the participatory turn in local governance arose from the Right, while in Belo Horizonte and Nezahualcóyotl it came from the Left. This case selection is particularly interesting, as the variation in success across these cases goes against the common assumption that the genuine ideological commitment to citizen participation generally associated with leftist governments is a good predictor of success. Political will is certainly an important factor, as it dictates how political actors and bureaucrats deal with participatory mechanisms and the policy outcomes. It is not only dictated by the party’s commitment to the idea of citizen participation, however. More important, it is the need to overcome the old parties’ privileged networks that dictates the new

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political actors’ strategies in their implementation of participatory institutions. As the democratization stories of each case will detail in the following chapters, the starting point for reform was similar in all cases. Implemented by the PAN in León and the PRD in Nezahualcóyotl, participatory reforms in Mexico were in both cases adopted in the aftermath of the opening of the electoral sphere and of the emergence of a viable alternative in power, either from the left or from the right. In Belo Horizonte and Recife, participatory institutions were adopted in similar local electoral democratization circumstances by the emerging local forces of the PT in the former case and the PFL/PMDB in the latter. In all four cases, participatory reforms became part of the agenda for change pushed by rising opposition parties who needed to break with the legacies of a past marked by privileged clientelistic relationships. In all four municipalities, the mechanisms for citizen participation are relatively institutionalized (indicated by their durability over time and through administration changes), and they involve face-to-face deliberation over concrete policy issues (Fung and Wright 2001). A closer look, however, reveals that local participatory democracy innovations have taken differing institutional forms across countries, since there has not been a single model enforced upon municipalities and participatory institutions vary from one country to another. In fact the nature of clientelism, and the manner in which it has to be coped with, goes a long way to explaining the models of participatory institutions that have predominantly been adopted in both countries. Contrary to the Mexican experience, where long-term development planning became the target of participatory reforms as a result of the need to overcome a type of clientelism that was more organized around political parties and short-term decisions, the Brazilian model of participatory budgeting responded to a need to curtail political brokers’ ability to seize the budget process to accommodate their clientele. The PB process represented the means to attain what the PT called inversion of priorities (inversão de prioridades), that is, designing policies in favor of the traditionally excluded and implementing fiscal reforms that target (i.e., tax) the more advantaged (Nylen 2003, 22). In Mexico, participatory innovations have generally been associated with municipal planning rather than budgetary process, formally including citizens in defining policy priorities. Two types of participatory planning mechanisms were introduced by municipal administrations, constituting the centerpiece of the Mexican


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institutionalized participatory decentralization model. The first mechanism is the COPLADEM (also called COPLADEMUN or CODEMUN in certain municipalities), directly related to the SNDP. As a citizen-based committee, its formal role is to inform and assist the local government in defining public investment priorities, especially in the low-income communities that benefit from federal infrastructure funds via the FAISM. These councils are generally forums where elected or designated members of numerous societal sectors, including some elected politicians, participate. They are designed to address long-term issues that extend beyond the three-year mandate of the mayor. The second mechanism is the neighborhood councils, comités de participación ciudadana, comités vecinales, or comités de colonos. Although the council’s form and composition vary from one city to another, it is generally composed of a given number of elected people living in the same neighborhood and is constituted as a neighbors’ rights defense committee. Often used as a neighborhood-based support to the work of the COPLADEM, it assumes a consultative and deliberative role in establishing policy priorities for the local community, generally discussing questions such as street pavement, sewer and water lines, street lighting, and public security. In Brazil, the most common innovation has been participatory budgeting, which allows citizens to actively participate in defining budget priorities for their city. First adopted by the PT municipal government of Porto Alegre in 1989, a “demonstration effect” has encouraged local leaders from a number of political parties to implement PB as a resource allocation mechanism empowering the traditionally marginalized urban population and sustaining efforts at “urbanizing” the favelas (Wampler and Avritzer 2004). PB allows municipalities autonomy over city revenues and expenditures. As articulated in the 1988 Constitution, municipalities can accumulate their own revenues through local taxes, tariffs, and federal transfers (World Bank 2000). In cities with participatory budgeting, community representatives deliberate and decide on the distribution of the resources through PB institutions. Given the fact that municipalities have this autonomy, the structure of the process differs from city to city, although some common characteristics remain. First, PB involves three types of meetings: neighborhood assemblies, “thematic” assemblies, and meetings of delegates from citywide coordinating sessions. Second, an investment plan is presented by the municipal government, which is then debated in

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city districts. Priorities and criteria for allocation of resources throughout the districts must be determined and publicly debated (World Bank 2003). Many forums therefore make up the whole PB process. Popular assemblies held in each neighborhood, which are the cornerstone of the PB, are open to all citizens and constitute the public forum to discuss sectoral priorities and development programs. Forums gather delegates from all regions to review assembly proposals and municipal administration priorities in light of widely accepted criteria. Finally, the PB Council, responsible for shaping the municipal budget, is composed of elected officials (Inter-American Development Bank 2003).

Uncover ing the Conditions to M ak e L o c a l Pa rt ic i patory De mo cr ac y Wor k : Institutions, Actors, and Inter actions Existing studies might explain one aspect or another of the puzzle of variation, but they do not account for the complexity and variety of state-society relationships or the dynamic and relational dimension of their transformation, which is at the core of the deepening of democratic practices. Such a transformation, we have argued, might take root in institutional innovation, but it also relies on the way actors appropriate and enact these institutions, through formal and informal interactions and channels. The novel comparative research design developed here proposes to build on existing studies to assess the impact of participatory democracy on state-society relationships, accounting for the mobilization and autonomization of societal actors and for the response given by the state, its institutions, and its actors. Going back to our typology of state-society relationships, Chapter 2 uncovers how they vary along two distinct dimensions: the nature of the mobilization process and the nature of participation. If institutional features can explain the nature of mobilization observed within local participatory mechanisms, it is mostly agency-related variables—the level of political competition, the configuration and distribution of powers within civil society, and the perception actors have of their roles in the process— that, taken together, have an impact on the level of autonomy enjoyed by participants, and this, in turn, will have the greater effect on the prospects for participatory institutions to contribute to the deepening of democracy.


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figure 3.2  Explaining Variation in Local Participatory Democracy Success

Figure 3.2 and Table 3.2 succinctly illustrate and summarize the explanatory model developed to understand variation in outcomes.

Explaining Mobilization: The Interplay between Previous Associationalism and Institutions The previous history of mobilization and civic engagement is, according to many, a determinant of civil society’s capacity to organize at the grassroots level in the participatory process. Mobilization level among civil society actors is, according to this argument, path-dependent, as legacies of local associationalism shape development of a culture of mobilization beyond institutional innovation (Wampler and Avritzer 2004). Path dependency is, however, a contested concept as it hardly accounts for change. If it is true that, at least in early implementation phases, participatory democracy institutions are likely to mobilize civil society groups that are already

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table 3.2  Variations in Mobilization and Autonomy: Variables and Indicators Variables

Mobilization Institutional design

Indicators • Institutional incentives for collective action • Incentives for deliberation • Mechanisms of horizontal cooperation

Political competition

• Level of electoral competitiveness • Level of governmental competitiveness • Level of intraparty or coalition conflict and factionalism

Civil society configurations

• Level of pluralism and inclusion among CSOs • Level of conflict or approval of participatory mechanisms among CSOs

State-Society Relationships (varieties of ) Autonomy

• Meanings of participation Actors’ understandings • Perceptions of actors’ of participation roles in the participatory process

active (Nylen 2003), these new spaces can also empower civil society groups (Abers 2000; Baiocchi et al. 2011). Under certain conditions, institutional change can lead to transformation in mobilization patterns at the grassroots level, creating either incentives or disincentives for collective mobilization strategies to be used by local social leaders. The design of the local participatory institutions cannot explain, in itself, the emergence of different types of state-society relationships across most similar cases, as shown by the examples of Belo Horizonte and Recife on the one hand and Nezahualcóyotl and León on the other. In fact, findings show that PB is not, in itself, a better model than participatory planning a la mexicana, for example. Institutions are implemented in a local sociopolitical context, and this matters. Institutional engineering and implementation are, however, important to understanding the structure of incentives and disincentives for mobilization in participatory processes. Within the channels they provide, participatory mechanisms can prompt organized


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collective action at the grassroots level, even in cases where historically there were only limited means through which to organize and vice versa. In contexts where mobilization is traditionally defined by its particularistic nature, institutional features that allow deliberation among citizens and require a collective organization to formulate demands are more likely to create incentives for collectivistic mobilization organized around definition of the common good. Indicators of the institutional design are found in the workings of participatory mechanisms; the formal and informal rules surrounding individuals’ and groups’ participation in local participatory institutions; the types of incentives for collective action they offer; the existence of formal and informal deliberative mechanisms to collectively define the common good; the institutional requirements for demand formulation within the participatory framework; and the presence of institutional mechanisms favoring horizontal cooperation or conflict among participating citizens and civil society organizations (CSOs).

Explaining Autonomy: Bringing Actors and Interactions Back In A comparison of most similar cases with different outcomes within each country reveals that the level of autonomy varies across similar institutional designs. This variation has to do with the fact that participants’ autonomy depends in great part on the actors who are involved in the process; on how they engage in the participatory process and with each other; and on their ideas, interests, and strategies, which, together, influence their formal and informal interactions. The level of autonomy is, in fact, best explained by how these institutions are enacted and appropriated by the actors, which relates to agency and contextual variables more than to technical ones (Canel 2011). The important questions to answer, therefore, are which, how, and why state and society actors participate in the urban governance process. A series of variables defining both state and society actors’ ideas and strategies toward the participatory process are therefore vital to explaining the nature of participation observed in participatory institutions. These variables are not, however, isolated from one another. It is not only these three variables but also the effects of their interaction that influence how much autonomy is enjoyed by participants in urban governance participatory institutions. The level of political competition and factionalism among political parties and politicians (both among and within political parties and coalitions,

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and among the branches of the local government) influences political actors’ strategies toward participatory institutions. Not only does competition influence the reach of participatory institutions (Martins de Souza 2011), but such spaces also become part of a variety of strategies for seeking political support. Recent research on the use of clientelistic strategies by local political elites in competitive contexts has shown that competition does not necessarily increase the likelihood of politicians developing programmatic linkages with voters. In theory, formal participatory channels can be a good place for parties to secure a network of party activists and give them access to public goods to then distribute among mobilized low-income voters. The relationship is not, however, so straightforward, as variation in case study outcomes illustrates. Those who have access to redistributive goods not only often have the capacity to use them to mobilize voters but may also prefer to do so (Szwarcberg 2013), a preference partly explained by political competition (Szwarcberg 2012, 2013; Weitz-Shapiro 2012). In participatory processes, politicians may choose to address citizens’ demands through formal or informal practices. The structure of political competition among and within parties and ruling coalitions is an important determinant of politicians’ strategies and behaviors and, in turn, of how much autonomy participants can enjoy. In fact, a high level of political competition across parties, but also among individual politicians and factions within the ruling party/coalition, often means greater need for popular support, for which participatory mechanisms can become the key. Indicators of competitiveness include the share of seats in council won by or attributed to each party/coalition, the proportion of votes expressed for the elected mayor, and popular support for the incumbent government. Since all the Brazilian and Mexican political parties under scrutiny are constructed on factions, the extent of factionalism is mostly measured by the legitimacy of the elected mayor within the ranks of the party, the stability of the ruling coalition, and the existence of tensions or conflicts among factions, mostly observed through discussions with party members and media analysis. Mobilizing great numbers of potential captive voters who need such resources for a decent living, intense competition increases the electoral costs of not using and capturing participatory institutions as a militants’ network. Participatory mechanisms allow parties to reach the population and secure their own legitimacy and political survival at the expense of their political adversaries. Indicators of political competition


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include the level of support achieved by the parties/coalitions in local election, the internal and external legitimacy of the governing team/party, the level of conflict within the governing coalition/parties, and the nature of legislative-executive relationships. The configuration of social actors in the municipality has an impact on how participants actually engage individually and collectively in the participatory governance process. This configuration is, however, not a mere reflection of the prior strength of civil society. Rather, it emphasizes how civil society organizations engage with the state, and with other CSOs. Civil society groups can be fully engaged actors, passive observers, or opponents of the participatory process. Their respective position toward the process and toward each other more generally structures their relationship to local political actors, strengthening or weakening politicians’ ability to capture and control participatory institutions, but also the struggles around definition of the common good. In fact, how civil society is internally organized and how its organizations enter or not as actors of the participatory structure may interact with past mobilization patterns, as the new structures of citizen participation do not necessarily respect and accommodate the traditional organization of civil society. Unequal access or conflict among civil society actors over use of participatory institutions, the degree of pluralism of civil society actors, and inclusion of preexisting organizations and newer ones are all indicators of the nature of such configurations, which can take multiple forms at the local level and over time. A pluralistic civil society united behind the ideal of participatory governance and reflecting the various sectors of society in a participatory context that accommodates both old and new forms of social organization and that does not create unequal access to the state leads to more inclusive, coordinated, and integrated participation patterns, which are in turn more likely to sustain the autonomy of organized civil society within the participatory mechanisms. These two variables are not, however, isolated from one another, and their interaction effects also determine the level of autonomy by influencing the actors’ understanding of their mutual roles in the participatory governance process. Behavior is influenced not only by an actor’s rational interests but also by the actor’s perceptions of these interests, which are critical to the choices individuals make and how they interpret reality (North 1995). The first dimension is the state representatives’ (bureaucrats and politicians) understanding of the role of participation in the governance process, and

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of their own role in participatory mechanisms. Both influence the level of resources invested in fostering autonomous civil society organization and participation, particularly in terms of the training and formation of participants. Another complementary dimension to consider is the perception participants have of the participatory process and of their role, as either agents representing the government in the community or as community representatives to the government. Measures of these understandings rely on participants and state actors’ own testimonies and interpretations of the reality of participation, as it is their own understanding that influences how they approach their role in the process and their interactions with other actors and groups. The autonomy of citizens participating is more likely to be strengthened when state representatives value citizen participation as a governing principle, and when citizens see themselves as the guarantors of their neighbors’ and fellow citizens’ interests and demands. Under these terms, both actors enter into the participatory decision-making process as equal partners. Conversely, if one sees the other in more negative terms, a very different dynamic emerges.

Conclusion This chapter has shown that even though Mexico and Brazil have had different historical models of governance and distinct paths toward democracy and participatory decentralization, the usefulness of comparing cases across and within these two countries stems from the fact that both have experienced cases of “relative success” and “relative failure.” In spite of their institutional differences, the participatory models implemented in both countries share similar functions with regard to inclusion of citizen participation and state accountability mechanisms in local governance, all including similar deliberative and oversight mechanisms allowing citizens to participate in decision-making processes with the local government. It is, however, the differences in contexts that make the comparison even more interesting: comparing them allows one to focus on factors beyond the institutional differences sustaining potential successes, and to go beyond the common wisdom suggesting that Brazilian municipalities have been more successful than Mexican ones at sustaining local citizen participation by explaining outcomes in a more balanced and comprehensive way.


Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl Participatory Democracy or Clientelistic Participation? Comparing with what it was under PRI governments, I would say that citizen participation has improved a bit today. I would, however, also say that for the PRD governments, the COPACIs are a way to control citizens. —rodrigo,

c o pac i pa r t i c i pa n t,

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Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, also called Neza, is a young city located in the outskirts of the federal district of Mexico, along the Puebla-Mexico axis. Long considered a “bedroom community” for the poorest workers of the federal district area, Nezahualcóyotl has grown into a major city of the State of Mexico, with more than a million inhabitants and a local economy of its own, mostly based on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Governed by the PRI since its foundation in 1963, the city has a long tradition of urban social organization and citizen participation that mostly revolved around the party structure and the main PRI-affiliated organizations. In 1996, as the combined result of the political opening of the municipal electoral arena by the Mexican federal state and of growing mobilization from the left in Nezahualcóyotl, the PRD opposition was elected and formed the majority in the city’s municipal government for the first time in the city’s history. Did the arrival of PRD leaders contribute to democratization of the local governance process as their campaign promised? More precisely, did the participatory reforms the PRD government introduced contribute to

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transforming the traditional clientelistic mechanisms that characterized state-society relationships in the city? This chapter shows how and why, in Nezahualcóyotl, introduction of formal participatory mechanisms was used as a tool to sustain clientelism rather than one to allow greater social inclusion and government transparency through autonomous and collectively organized citizen participation.

The For m ation of the Cit y: From L and Struggles and Clientelism to Political A lter nation As a relatively young city mainly populated by poor migrants, Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl has an interesting and quite unique history, important for understanding local state-society dynamics and assessing its transformation over time. Characterized by the rapid growth of colonias populares, or slums,1 it is marked by social struggles for land tenure, access to basic services, and urbanization of the neighborhoods of the Texcoco district, issues that are still at the center of local governance challenges today. At the same time, under the PRI, Nezahualcóyotl was an exemplary model of Mexican clientelism, making ordinary citizens dependent on both political elites and private landowners (fraccionadores) for access to basic urban services. This is the context within which the PRD emerged as viable opposition from the left in 1988 and was elected for the first time in 1996 with the promise of democratizing local governance processes, partly through introducing participatory mechanisms.

Land Struggles, Political Clientelism, and Social Exclusion (1940–1988) The space where Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl was built was once a vast lake surrounding the City of Mexico, the Lago Texcoco. In the early 1900s, the Mexican government started to dry the lake in order to prevent flooding threatening the city, leaving empty and available a major piece of arable land. By 1929, the government had started selling property titles to fraccionadores, 2 who acquired them legitimately, but also through bribes and favors to government officials (Selee 2011). The fraccionadores


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then divided the land into smaller and affordable parcels that were quite attractive to poor migrant workers, increasingly coming to work in the expensive capital. The product of a social struggle for land tenure and access to basic services, Neza found its formation characterized by both social mobilization and the prevalence of clientelistic state-society interactions, mediated by those powerful fraccionadores and local PRI political elites. The city expansion, led in part from the municipality of Chimalhuacán, was, however, anarchical and disorganized. The new spaces were not included in the municipality’s urbanization plan and were sold by private promoters to the poorest social classes as nonregularized and sometimes even illegal pieces of land lacking basic urban services such as water, sewage, and electricity (Bataillon 1971). Most fraccionadores failed to comply with their obligations to provide these services (García Luna 1992, 114), and the new owners were often left in precarious living conditions and without official property titles that would have entitled them to demand such services (Alonso 1988). By the end of the 1950s, the question of land tenure had become one of the main challenges of the state’s PRI government, and basic urban services were still lacking in most colonias. In the late 1950s, unsatisfied residents who were then under the authority of the local government of Chimalhuacán created the Federación de Colonias del Ex-Vaso de Texcoco (Federation of the Urban Neighborhoods of the Texcoco District). Through this movement, they started pressing the governor of the State of Mexico, Gustavo Baz, for creation of a new and autonomous municipal entity that would be governed by its own local government. With the support of the fraccionadores, asking autonomy for the occupied lands in order to be able to continue their illegal selling activities without repercussions from Chimalhuacán’s authorities (Schteingart 1989), Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl was created in 1963.3 Throughout the following period, characterized by the hegemony of the PRI in the local government, the same logic prevailed. Starting in 1964, local elections were regularly held, but there was no viable and organized opposition party until 1988, and the party remained unbeaten until 1996 (Table 4.1). Observers have indeed highlighted the use of clientelism and patronage as the main mechanisms for maintaining political control and party domination over the municipal state, society, and their interactions in Mexico.4 These mechanisms were organized around three main pillars:

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table 4.1  Nezahualcoyótl Municipal Councils, 1964–1996 Mandate

PRI Municipal President

City Council Members


Jorge Sánez Knoth

PRI: 4 / Opposition: 0


Francisco González Romero

PRI: 6 / Opposition: 0


Gonzalo Barquín Díaz

PRI: 6 / Opposition: 0


Oscar Loya Ramírez

PRI: 6 / Opposition: 0


Eleazar García Rodríguez

PRI: 6 / Opposition: 0


José Luis García García

PRI: 9 / Opposition: 0


Juan Alvaraldo Jacco

PRI: 9 / Opposition: 2


José Lucio Ramírez Ornela

PRI: 11 / Opposition: 3


José Salinas Navarro

PRI: 11 / Opposition: 3


Juan Gerardo Vizcaíno Covián

PRI: 13 / Opposition: 5


Carlos Viña Paredes

PRI: 12 / Opposition: 6

note: Both síndicos and regidores are included in the total number of city council members, excluding the mayor who, as the chief representative of the majoritarian party, has a de facto seat on the municipal council. source: Data from Moises Raúl López Laines (1989), Emilio Alvarado Guerara (1996), and Selee (2006).

the close relationship of the PRI leaders with the local fraccionadores and their dependence to the state PRI government, the loyalty of popular sector organizations, and the weakness of autonomous civil society organizations. The political hegemony of local PRI leaders was highly dependent on their ability to develop privileged ties with powerful economic actors, the state government and party structure, and the popular sector, which had a price for ordinary citizens. Early on, local PRI leaders were supported by the fraccionadores. They were closely involved in the 1964 municipal elections and the constitution of the first ayuntamiento (city council) of Neza and were thus able to secure their illegal land-selling business in the newly constituted Nezahualcóyotl (Schteingart 1989). Lacking the financial and power resources needed to bring services to the population and, more important, to secure political support from their constituents, the city political figures also had to resort to their close but dependent relationship on state government officials to secure urbanization of key colonias of the municipality. The other source of support for the PRI in Neza, the popular sector, is both the local manifestation and the consequence


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of the corporatist mode of social organization established by the PRI at the national level. Organized through the local section of the CNOP, the popular sector was composed of influential residents and business associations5 who became political brokers of an embedded system of clientelistic exchanges. They were able to secure their members’ loyalty to the PRI through selective redistribution, and benefited from political privileges in return. In exchange for their support and loyalty, these leaders got to see some of their demands accommodated by the municipal and state party leaders, thereby sustaining their popular legitimacy, and eventually they became important PRI leaders at the local and state levels (Duhau and Schteingart 2001). By the end of the 1970s, the PRI had managed to coopt the most important social associations and groups under its corporatist structure, made possible by the prevalence of clientelistic state-society relationships. Residents were thus not only affected daily by the scarcity of resources and public services but also hostages of a clientelistic and exclusionary system of political exchange and preferential redistribution. A direct consequence of these two dynamics has been the weakness and lack of autonomy of the few active civil society organizations in the city (Bolos 2003). Not only were control mechanisms such as cooptation often used to contain opposition to the PRI, but the local government also explicitly excluded collaboration or agreements with organizations that were not loyal to the party (Iglesias 1978). The neighborhood-based Consejos de Participación Ciudadana (COPACI, Citizen Participation Councils), which were further developed under the PRD, were generally used as political spaces for distributing benefits among PRI supporters and local organizers. In fact, as highlighted by Alberto, a COPACI president, citizen demands were mostly organized and channeled through local “ jefes [chiefs] who were not representing a particular street or neighborhood and had no connections with the neighborhoods necessities,” as well as through the local social organizations providing services to the population and affiliated to the PRI through the CNOP. Thus, since the foundation of the city, citizen participation was highly contingent on corporatist links between social organizations and the party, as well as on vote-buying strategies deployed by the local PRI leaders. Consequently, PRI hegemony was established and sustained through a particularistic system of interest mediation, organized around powerful individuals who were closely tied into the party structure. This system,

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supported by clientelistic state-society relationships, was an important challenge faced by the rising leftist opposition forces in the late 1980s, who emerged with a democratization discourse emphasizing the need to transform these prevailing state-society relationships and to bring citizens back into the local governance process.

The PRD in Power: The Rise of a Sustainable Opposition from the Left If opposition parties made some marginal gains starting in 1981 (see Table 4.1) as a result of President de la Madrid’s first wave of reforms, a cohesive and viable political opposition emerged only in 1988 in Nezahualcóyotl, arising from a coalition of leftist social movements. After a few years in the opposition, the PRD first won the mayoral and city council elections in 1996, led by Valentín González Bautista. Between 1996 and 2015, the PRD dominated the local political landscape in the municipality, winning municipal elections by increasing majorities (Table 4.2).6 The rise of the PRD in Nezahualcóyotl occurred in parallel with the rise of the left at the national level.7 It is only in the mid-1990s that the PRD made important gains in Nezahualcóyotl, when divisions and internal disputes among the several factions within the PRI started to erode the local corporatist structure and, in turn, the party’s basis for popular support. As the PRI weakened in the city, the local PRD organization grew stronger. In the years prior to the 1996 campaign, the party was thus able to sustain formation of a coalition with the main leftist activists, social organizations, and small parties active in the municipality. The three main groups that came together to run under the banner of the PRD in 1996 were the Movimiento de Lucha en Nezahualcóyotl (MLN, Movement for the Struggle in Nezahualcóyotl), Movimiento Vida Digna (MOVIDIG, Movement for a Worthy Life), and Unión Popular Revolucionario Emiliano Zapata (UPREZ, Emiliano Zapata Popular Revolutionary Union). As 2006–2009 mayor Víctor Bautista López (affiliated to MOVIDIG) explained, discussing the origins of the PRD coalition in the city, “our origin [Nezahualcóyotl PRD members] is social, and not political.”8 In fact, the coalition emerged from social organizations that, even though active at the local level since the late 1970s, were originally more concerned with provision of services to the population than with politics.


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table 4.2  Vote for Municipal President and City Council in Nezahualcóyotl, 1996–2015 Mandate 1997–2000



Political Parties / Elected Mayors

% Vote

PRD (Valentín González Bautista, elected)






PRD (Héctor Miguel Bautista López, elected)






PRD (Venancio Luis Sánchez Jiménez, elected)


PRI/PVEM (Partido Verde Ecologista de México)




PRD (Víctor Manuel Bautista López, elected)


Alianza por Mexico (PRI/PVEM)





PRI/PVEM (Edgar Navarro Sánchez, elected) PRD PAN

44.5% 32.2% 14.4%


PRD (Juan Zepeda, elected) PRI/PVEM PAN

38.3% 37.6% 11.3%


source: Instituto Electoral del Estado de México, result_elect.html [page consulted 28/06/13]

The results of the November 1996 election surprised many people in the city, including the members of the winning coalition. The PRD, run by Valentín González Bautista, reached the majority by a small margin, leaving the PRI in the opposition for the first time in the history of the city. Still, none of the groups’ leaders had really planned on such a decisive victory of the PRD over the well-established PRI, and the coalition was rather shaky. Mayor González Bautista therefore had to consolidate the party in order to solidify its support bases in a context marked by the legacy of the PRI, a party whose stability relied on corporatist alliances with the most important economic and social actors of the municipality.

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Since then, Nezahualcóyotl has become a bastion of the party and of the Nueva Izquierda (New Left, to which MOVIDIG is affiliated) party faction at the national level, becoming the pride of its current local leaders and of many citizens. Some questions, however, remain largely unanswered: Did the PRD fulfill its electoral promises of combating corruption and clientelism while governing more inclusively and more democratically? In the first twelve years of PRD rule in the city, what has concretely changed in the municipal governance model established by the PRI?

C i t i z e n Pa rt ic i pat ion a s a G ov e r n a nc e M e c h a n ism: t h e C OPAC I a n d C ODE M U Ns According to the Ley Orgánica Municipal del Estado de Mexico, article 64, a municipal administration can create citizen-based organs such as the elected and nonpartisan COPACI to help them fulfill their public mandates. This facultative disposition has been in the Ley Orgánica since 1994 and formally existed in Nezahualcóyotl. As the Bando Municipal (Municipal Regulation) of 1994 suggested, in accordance with the Ley Orgánica, “in the municipality will exist citizen participation councils [ . . . ] to do consultation, assessment, promotion and social management” (H. Ayuntamiento de Nezahualcóyotl 1994, art. 31). Nevertheless, the PRI administrations were not inclined toward activating this type of independent citizen participation mechanisms, instead keeping them tightly attached to the party structure in their demand-channeling function. Under the PRI, citizen councils were mostly “used to ensure the personal success of the mayor” (Vázquez Hernández 1999, 322) and were not democratically elected by the general population (Duhau and Schteingart 2001). The election of a PRD government was seen as a critical moment in the city’s history, allowing for change in the design of the municipal structure of governance. During the 1996 municipal elections, the local organization of the PRD led a campaign that not only revolved around the “electoral fraud” of the PRI and the need for change but also around the larger themes of democratization and citizen participation. In an interview with Proceso, the first elected PRD municipal president, Valentín González Bautista, was clear about his intentions: “I will govern with the society and with honesty” (Monge 1996). Corollary to the discourse of “democratization,” the


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mandate, vocation, and visibility of the institutions of citizen participation officially changed, becoming the center of the new system of social participation established by the new government, which included the Consejos de Participación Ciudadana and the Consejo para el Desarrollo Municipal (CODEMUN, Council for Municipal Development).

Consejos de Participación Ciudadana As a community-based and institutionalized form of citizen participation created from above, the COPACI are, following the terms of the Ley Orgánica, the “autonomous auxiliary bodies of the ayuntamiento established by the municipal government in the various neighborhoods of the city according to the terms of art. 72–76 of the Ley Orgánica” (H. Ayuntamiento de Nezahualcóyotl 1997, art. 33), which election and coordination fall under the responsibility of the government’s Coordinación de Participación Ciudadana (Citizen Participation Coordination). According to the state legislation, their responsibilities include promoting citizen participation in the realization of municipal programs, and to do so they should assist in efficient realization of the approved municipal plans and programs, propose actions to integrate or modify those plans and programs, participate in supervising public services provision, and inform their electorate and the city of their activities (Congreso del Estado de México 2002 [1973], art. 74). With the election of the PRD in 1996, a profound change altered the nature of the COPACI. In fact, in the first months of his mandate, Mayor González Bautista called the first popular election meant to elect the members of the COPACI, giving them a more democratic and popular mandate to represent the interests of the residents of their community. The municipality is administratively divided into eighty-two neighborhoods, eighteen in the Zona Norte and sixty-four in the Zona Centro. One COPACI is elected in every neighborhood, each of them consisting of five volunteer elected members (and their respective alternates): a president, a secretary, a treasurer, and two vocales (representatives). The members of the COPACI, who must be residents of the neighborhood for which they run, are elected for a nonrenewable three-year mandate starting December 1 of the year following the election of the cabildo. Citizens who are interested in running for a position in a COPACI should form electoral slates supported by at least one hundred members of the community (H. Ayuntamiento de

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figure 4.1  COPACI Participatory Policy-Making Process in Nezahualcóyotl, 1996–2008

Nezahualcóyotl, Oct. 20, 2006). The electoral slates officially have nonpartisan status, which means the councils are supposed to be independent forms of citizen participation external to the existing local party structures already active in the diverse neighborhoods of the municipality.9 The councils main function is to channel social demands from the population to the members of the municipal government, more often through the Coordinación de Participación Ciudadana and, in certain cases, directly through the mayor, who is the main actor proposing policies and programs for adoption to the municipal council. As Figure 4.1 shows, the participatory process generally involves a series of phases through which local elected committees can consult with their fellow residents in order to address formal public works, urban services and infrastructural demands to the local authorities. They also serve as a transmission belt between the local government and its citizens, as they are the main channel used by the administration and its public officials to transmit information about its programs and policies to the population. Although participation rate in COPACIs elections has not been very high, its progressive and constant increases suggest that the general population has


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become ever more aware of the councils, their functions, and their activities since reactivation by the PRD. From about 25,000 voters in 1997, the number grew to about 33,000 in 2000, 66,957 in 2003, and 64,638 in 2006.10 Moreover, in the Bando Municipal of 2007, the administration of Víctor Bautista López changed the phrasing of their description to include the idea that they were “organs of communication and collaboration between the community and the municipal government” (H. Ayuntamiento de Nezahualcóyotl 2007, art. 35), highlighting their bridging function in the governance process. According to the PRD municipal authorities, COPACI are meant to engage citizens to participate at the neighborhood level, organize collectively, and elect representatives among themselves to become the democratic link between the ayuntamiento and the citizens.

Consejo para el Desarrollo Municipal In conformity with the dispositions of the federal planning system (SNPD) and of the RAMO 33 (municipal transfer) adopted by the federal government in 1996 (see Chapter 3), each city is supposed to establish a participatory planning structure to involve citizens in the urban planning decision-making process, generally called the COPLADEMUN. In Nezahualcóyotl, the COPLADEM does exist, but it is not prominent in the participatory apparatus. As emphasized by Marcelo, the municipal public relations officer in charge of the program in an interview, the planning process mostly involves the municipal administration and selected distinguished citizens who represent associations of liberal professions rather than including a mechanism of popular participation.11 In 1998, the newly empowered municipal PRD authorities adopted another structure of citizen participation for planning, attribution, and oversight of infrastructure and public works expenditures, the CODEMUN and its community-based Comités Vecinales de Desarrollo Social (Local Social Development Committees). Every year, twenty-five local committees of ten elected volunteers (a president, a secretary, a treasurer, two representatives, and their respective alternates) are elected by their fellow neighbors in public assemblies. They are mostly responsible for organizing local public meetings, and inviting the neighbors to come and discuss the urban development priorities and concerns that will be transmitted to the municipal authorities.

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These local committees delegate one representative to become a member of the CODEMUN, which is composed of the twenty-five elected delegates, the mayor—who presides—and representatives of the municipal council. Its main functions are to propose public works projects according to their fellow citizens’ priorities, approve the cabildo’s proposals, and oversee execution of the approved public works. Once a month, the presidents of those committees meet to discuss the ayuntamiento’s proposals for infrastructure and public works funded by the federal transfers called the RAMO 33 and dedicated to street pavement, sewage and water lines, schools and community infrastructure, etc. This statewide committee’s function is therefore to approve and oversee the expenses of the municipal government, according to the needs of constituents and to the overall situation of the municipality.

New Institutions, Old Pr actices? A Case of R enewed Clientelism Citizen participation has become an institutionalized practice entrenched in the process of local governance in Nezahualcóyotl. If one can argue that popular participation has increased since 1996, much less is known about the nature of such participation, about how political and societal actors have enacted the formal participatory institutions in reality. Did the COPACIs and CODEMUNs contribute to transform state-society relationships, and more generally to the deepening of local democracy? On the formal level, the structure of citizen participation established by the PRD constitutes an important institutional innovation. Nonetheless, the logic of clientelistic state-society relationships that prevailed under the PRI has not only survived party alternation and participatory reforms but also been reestablished by the PRD through the process. On the one hand, mobilization has not become more collective, which contributes to the atomization and weakness of local CSOs. On the other hand, political parties control participatory spaces and participants are not autonomous. So informal practices prevail. Citizens who are close to and have face-to-face interactions with the municipal bureaucracy, or even better with the secretary general of the ayuntamiento himself, do get their demands channeled and responded to much more quickly, in spite of the existence of participatory channels.


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Mobilizing Disconnected Individuals in the City As “democratizing mechanisms,” the official goal of both the COPACI and the CODEMUN is to promote citizen participation and foster collective action at the grassroots level, including traditionally marginalized sectors of the population through their empowerment as collective actors able to organize and collectively press demands upon the state. On closer examination, however, local participatory mechanisms mobilize citizens who are disconnected from one another, who formulate and treat demands on an individual and particularistic basis. In fact, after their elections, citizen committees’ members are generally disconnected from the general population. They more often work behind closed doors, without developing collaborations and collective action strategies with the already existing citizen networks, CSOs, or elected councils and committees of other neighborhoods. The nature of mobilization can be observed by looking at the depth of collective action involved in defining demands and policy priorities to be carried to the local government. In theory, as representatives of the general population living in their neighborhood, both COPACI- and CODEMUN-elected members should aim at including their fellow residents in discussions of priorities and needs. Their official role is to act as a transmission belt between the citizens and the municipal government, channeling citizens’ collective needs and investment priorities to the authorities, organizing local assemblies and consultation process to deliberate about these priorities, and informing the population of the government’s decisions and policies (see Figure 4.1, p. 75). Yet the reality of daily local citizen interactions is quite different, as the practice is generally for them to deal with citizens’ demands personally rather than organizing public assemblies that would allow people to collectively mobilize and make decisions about their neighborhood’s priorities. Describing the local consultation process in her neighborhood, Elena, a COPACI president from one of the most marginalized and still irregular neighborhoods of Nezahualcóyotl, explains that the few active members of her COPACI generally work case by case, dealing directly with citizens’ requests and transmitting them directly to the local authorities. As she observes, when there is a problem in a particular street, only one person comes to me to make sure I know about the problem, but I don’t know if the

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residents of the street have done a meeting among themselves before. I only ask them for their problem, their name and their street to make sure that they can sign the paperwork once I complete the official request. (Elena)

Though they are not the norm, there are some neighborhoods where a more active consultation process is undertaken more or less regularly, through organizing street-based meetings or for the elected COPACI and CODEMUN members to inform and consult with residents about their local problems and the status of their requests. Some citizen councils and planning committees also consult with their fellow residents directly on occasion, going from door to door to ask them about potential problems and specific requests, Vicente and Rodrigo explained. Nonetheless, these sporadic local meetings or public consultations are not necessarily conducive to longer-term forms of collective organization among the residents of a community. As highlighted by the president of a particularly active COPACI in Zona Centro, Alberto, people who are affected by a certain problem in their own street participate together occasionally and around specific problems, but they still do so individually, and not through collective action organized over longer-term common interests and issues. People from one street might indeed get together to sign off on the official request to be sent to the municipal government by the local COPACI members. Their collective endeavor, however, is generally limited to unorganized and sporadic expression of their basic support for a particularistic and often self-interested demand rather than contributing to the common good of the community through openly deliberating and collectively demanding that the local authorities address a specific problem. Another indicator of individualistic mobilization patterns in Nezahualcóyotl’s participatory institutions is the lack of deliberation among residents about the collective needs of the neighborhood (even in communities where there is some type of popular consultation involved), which limits the organizational capacity building necessary for communities to effectively mobilize and become empowered collective actors. In fact, the priority order for the demands that are transmitted to the authorities by the COPACI and CODEMUN after the basic consultation process is generally not deliberated on collectively. Instead, it is often the active elected representatives of the given neighborhood—often only the president, or only a


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few members—who, after casually meeting with the population, evaluate and prioritize demands among themselves, behind closed doors, deciding without consulting the residents which demands they will follow up and bring to the municipal authorities. As suggested by most COPACIs and CODEMUN leaders interviewed, the committees and councils themselves do the majority of defining the neighborhood’s collective interest during their committee meetings. A COPACI president, commenting on the nature of his committee meetings, explains: Fundamentally, we make our own evaluations; we organize to see who will bring the demands to the municipal authorities, and what we will propose [ . . . ]. When we meet, we try, as a committee, to reach a certain consensus over the problems that affect the most influential groups, such as the small entrepreneurs. (Alberto)

Rather than making policy proposals in accordance with ordinary citizens’ expressed will and collective interest, the elected representatives make decisions and, consequently, define the collective interest according to their own perception of the community’s needs, often influenced by the already powerful actors’ demands. Furthermore, local committees’ elected representatives do not necessarily formally meet to discuss the priorities among themselves before sending them to the authorities. As highlighted by a CODEMUN president, explaining the nature of the committee’s activities in the neighborhood: Sometimes I meet the secretary or the treasurer of my committee in the street, and we discuss what’s lacking, we elaborate a request, collect the required signatures, and then we make the official demand. (Vicente)

The demand-formulation process, and the relationship with state authorities, therefore remain highly dependent on the committee’s president himself or herself and that person’s understanding of the community’s needs. This common practice not only limits the potential for collective organization at the grass roots but also excludes people from the community and prevents them from participating in defining the collective interest, sustaining the logic of individual-based demands that has historically weakened and marginalized civil society organizations and contributed to the prevalence of political interests in the city, reinforcing the general apathy of ordinary citizens in their relationship to local authorities.

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Mobilization and demand-making processes remain atomized and organized at the very local level, and no real attempt at connecting these localized actions is observed in Neza, or in Mexico more generally. COPACIs and CODEMUN members from the various neighborhoods of the city do not mobilize together to make demands to the state, but rather concentrate their activities in their own community. Interviews with participants on both types of committee indeed revealed that most of them had never worked with their fellow residents from surrounding neighborhoods. The various bodies of the local participatory architecture are also disconnected from each other; committee members work in closed silos, even if their objectives are often complementary. This is especially true for the COPACIs, for which all participants interviewed suggested they had no contact with citizen councils from other neighborhoods and that, in the cases of José, Vicente, Elena, and Rodrigo, they had never heard of the existence of any other participatory venues existing in the municipality. As a result, there is a lack of horizontal cooperation between the elected members of the participatory bodies, which contributes to fragmented social demands, but also to social mobilization and civil society organizations at the neighborhood level. Institutionalized participatory mechanisms have thus had an impact on how demands for the municipal authorities in Nezahualcóyotl are channeled. Participatory institutions have, however, generally failed at fostering collective forms of mobilization among the traditionally demobilized and disorganized ordinary citizens. The findings show that both the COPACIs and CODEMUN participatory processes have instead contributed to reinforcing the logic of individual and particularistic mobilization that prevailed under the PRI. On the one hand, ordinary citizens are still not mobilized collectively and never manage to collectively deliberate or discuss public policy issues and priorities in the public assemblies and forums created by the local government to include them. As they do not actively participate in or benefit from deliberations and discussion to learn organizing and demand-making skills, citizens remain disorganized, demobilized, and dependent on their personal connections to formulate demands to influential politicians and political brokers. On the other hand, disconnected council members use their alleged “popular” legitimacy to make decisions on behalf of an atomized citizenry. Rather than acting as representatives of the collective interest, they become the new political brokers though which individuals and influential groups can channel their specific demands.


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“Participation Is Political”: The Prevalence of Informal Practices Officially, the members of the municipal government talk about the COPACI and CODEMUN as autonomous and citizen-based organizations. Yet, beyond formal rules, informal practices of political control over citizen participation prevail. Rather than being the apolitical and citizenempowering local participatory mechanisms they are supposed to be, both the COPACI and the CODEMUN have become political tools controlled by the three main political parties to reach the population and mobilize support and secure votes among local communities. More specifically, political parties and their affiliated social organizations use informal channels to bypass formal participatory mechanisms and maintain a certain form of control over citizens and neighborhood-based CSOs. They control formation of electoral slates running for the COPACIs and CODEMUNs, coopt their elected members, oversee the electoral process, and use these mechanisms as platforms for advancing partisan political interests. Since 1997, COPACIs have been an important arena for political disputes, among the parties and among the factions of the PRD. As Arzaluz Solano notices, the first councils’ elections were not apolitical, as “political parties, basically the PRI and the PRD, worked in their respective neighborhoods for their candidates and militants to be elected” (Arzaluz Solano 2002, 311). Commenting on the nonpartisan nature of the COPACI, the deputy coordinator of the Coordinación de Participación Ciudadana explains:12 As an institution, we receive candidatures from citizens, but we know that most of them are members of a political party. They register as citizens and run their campaigns as such. In the convocation, it is prohibited to register a candidate who is representing a political party, so it is not an election between parties, even if personally they do have an affiliation. (Beatriz)

She adds, however, that “more than 80 percent of the councils are composed of members affiliated with the PRD,” a statistic that tends to reflect the composition of city council. In fact, as a high-ranking member of the ayuntamiento explains:13 The COPACIs are informally split among the political parties so that it reflects more or less the composition of the cabildo. Each of them then presents electoral slates constituted of political supporters who are not

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officially affiliated with the party and who take up the position for three years. (Iván)

This is also corroborated by previous years’ COPACIs composition. For example, in 2003, the PRD slates won 57 percent of the COPACIs (45), the PRI won 31 percent (31), the PAN won 3 percent (2), and independent slates won 1 percent (Selee 2006). Political parties also have subtler means of insinuating themselves into the process, through the wide array of party-affiliated social organizations that are actively participating in the COPACIs. Another important finding about the composition of the citizen participation councils is that along with being party-affiliated, the PRD-affiliated ones are also divided among themselves between the factions of the governing majority. In fact, the social organizations at the origins of the local PRD organize and form electoral slates to obtain formal representation in the structures of citizen participation.14 This division between the various factions of the PRD is generally favorable to MOVIDIG, which has invariably obtained more elected representatives than the other movements disputing power within the party, which represented 28 percent of all PRD slates in 1997, and 24 percent in 2003 (Selee 2006). Nonetheless, the other PRD-affiliated social organizations are also active in the COPACI, presenting electoral slates in neighborhoods where they have social bases. Among them, UPREZ generally represents another important faction, which had 17 percent of the slates in 1997, and 9 percent in 2003. Other organizations, which are associated with leaders who are not affiliated to the major factions of the PRD or which are smaller (including UGOCEM, M4, UBADEZ), are also involved in COPACIs. Only about one fourth of the PRD-COPACIs were self-declared independent from one of these local social organizations in 1997 and 2003 (Selee 2006). Political party involvement in the election process is, however, never open and formally organized as such. Internal regulation of citizen participation councils and the Ley Orgánica both consider COPACIs as independent and citizen-based participatory institutions supplementing the action of the municipal state. Therefore, the election process and subsequent local discussions should not overtly involve any partisanship. Yet, as one COPACI president observed, there are indirect ways by which they [political parties] can promote the election of a group or another and they have their own electoral slates


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proposals, which they will use to sustain the actions of their government through such a person who has a direct potential in the neighborhood. (Alberto)

Informal practices prevail in the election process, which is organized and overseen by a political commission of the cabildo composed of regidores from the three main political parties present in the municipality. Miguel León Diaz, PRD regidor and president of the Commission of citizen participation, explains in an interview:15 Representatives are supposed to be apolitical, but it is regularly people who participate in politics, so there are some from the PRD, some from the PRI and others from the PAN. It shouldn’t be like this, but we [the electoral commission] cannot verify if the candidates are militants or not.

More than just being responsible for overseeing the general election process, political parties indirectly propel creation of electoral slates, which are composed of supporters and sympathizers; generally, every neighborhood has one from each party running for election. The same logic of political party capture also prevails in the local elected committees of the CODEMUN, where the election process is even less formally organized than it is for the COPACIs. Many scholars and local actors have observed that party-affiliated citizens tend to be participating more than independent ones, as the municipal public relations official in charge for the program explained: Obviously, the more informed people, who already participate in political parties, are those who tend to be involved more naturally in such activities. [ . . . ] In the CODEMUN, we have people affiliated with the PRI, the PAN, and the PRD, but in the end, it is exactly like it is in the municipal council: it is pluralistic. (Marcelo)

Even if the committees should be theoretically nonpartisan and citizenbased, my observations of the current situation and reports on the last few administrations confirm Arzaluz Solano’s observations (2002, 319) in a study of the first PRD administration’s CODEMUN: Evidence shows the strong presence of all political parties but, more than anything, uncovers again the situation that characterizes citizen participation in the municipality: the struggle for the public space between the various municipal social organizations, UPREZ, MOVIDIG and MLN.

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The role of local regidores and, indirectly, of their political parties is even clearer in the formation of electoral slates. As Vicente explained, “the regidora [from the PRI] proposed various people, and I was considered. There were more slates, for which each regidor proposed someone.” Since the city CODEMUN members—who are generally the local presidents—theoretically have a more direct role in defining city infrastructure spending priorities, it is in the interest of the parties to maintain close ties with them to make sure they can gather support when it comes to approving some of the cabildo’s investment proposals or not. Therefore, the formal participation mechanisms created by the PRD have not been autonomous from political parties and politicians, but instead controlled by them. Political parties do intervene, directly or more indirectly through social organizations, in the composition and functioning of the supposedly citizen-based and nonpartisan COPACIs and CODEMUN. The control exercised by political parties and their associated social organizations over citizen participation creates participatory mechanisms that are not, in practice, a focal point of the decision-making process; they mostly serve to channel citizen mobilization in a controlled environment, allowing the elected representatives to avoid popular discontentment and pursue with their political agenda. As stressed by Héctor Bautista López, who was mayor between 2000 and 2003: Because the elections of the COPACIs and the CODEMUN involve the direct influence of political parties, these instances are, in the end, representations of the parties, and not of the citizens.16

A CODEMUN president affiliated with the PRI also noted: Because the committees are generally from the PRD, they vote with the government, who directs resources in the neighborhoods where they get more support, which are more convenient for them, without taking account of the common good. (José)

Participants’ autonomy and collective mobilization thus remain quite limited in Neza’s participatory processes, thereby limiting the transformative potential of participatory processes. Informality prevails, and clientelistic state-society relationships in Nezahualcóyotl are reaffirmed through the participatory process. Social exclusion remains at the heart of the local citizenship regime, as citizens depend on privileged ties with political leaders


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to access resources and basic urban services, and so do informal control practices that prevent citizen representatives from playing their oversight role and holding politicians responsible for their decisions.

Institutional Incentives, Actors, and Inter actions Contrary to the initial expectations, participatory institutions did not lead to a transformation of state-society relationships in Nezahualcóyotl. How to explain this? If institutional design explains the individual nature of mobilization observed in Nezahualcóyotl’s participatory mechanisms, it is not enough to fully understand the political control dynamics observed in the city, mostly determined by how social and political actors enact these institutions as a part of their own strategies and perceptions.

Institutional Limits to Collective Mobilization Institutions such as the COPACIs and CODEMUNs can, in theory, frame the public space in a way that contributes to furthering development of new collective mobilization dynamics. The empirical reality is, however, quite different. COPACI and CODEMUN elected members become political brokers who develop networks of personal connections to political parties, politicians, and local social organization leaders and use the vertical and fragmented channels of participatory structures to formulate demands to the local authorities. A first observation about the institutional incentives for the practice of public consultation and deliberation among both COPACIs and CODEMUN members reveals the absence of a formal requirement for regular and formal public deliberative assemblies, which constitutes an important limit on the development of collective mobilization efforts in local communities. This is inherent to the Mexican participatory planning model, where public consultations are not a necessary step in the demand-channeling process. Consequently, most COPACI and local CODEMUN sections’ members act individually, on the basis of their own interpretation and evaluation of their fellow citizens’ needs or through particular requests coming directly from individual citizens facing a problem. As explained by

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a COPACI president, local committees do enjoy total latitude in deciding which sectors of their neighborhoods deserve to be consulted about their needs and concerns: Certain streets don’t necessitate an organization process because their public services are fine. But when there are problems in a particular street, this is when we intervene and consult with the residents. (Alberto)

Consultation becomes a relatively random exercise that, rather than being a collective effort in face-to-face deliberations and negotiations, is unequally used by citizen representatives to legitimate their demands to the local government or to gather support and signatures for a particular demand. If the elected councils usually fail to organize public meetings, they do so in certain cases. However, even in such cases, the elected committee members are the ones deciding which demands will be transmitted and in what priority order. In fact, the weight given to the public consultation outcomes by these committees remains marginal. This is a direct consequence of the lack of formal requirements for deliberation and mobilization: elected committees centralize the decisions, consultation remains optional and punctual, and citizens do not mobilize collectively. Observations of Nezahualcóyotl’s participatory framework reveal there are major institutional limits to collective mobilization stemming from the participatory mechanisms’ structure of decision making. On the one hand, if there is a formal requirement for committee members to present official requests supported by their fellow residents, it does not translate into organizational capacity building in the communities. In fact, rather than asking citizens to collectively organize to present demands to public assemblies whose members would then discuss, the process generally works the other way around: the elected citizen representatives gather information on the local needs, present proposals to the citizens, and make sure they have enough signatures to follow through with the process. On the other hand, there are great imbalances of power between the municipal government and participants in the participatory mechanisms. As Evangelina Meza, a PAN regidora explained, criticizing the structure of participation in the municipality, “the one who has all the powers [in the participatory forums] is the government, and citizens don’t develop a real organizational capacity.”17 She goes on to explain that, though the COPACIs and COPLADEM should be institutions sustaining citizen organization, “in reality, there are


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only one or two people asking questions but it doesn’t go beyond conversations; in fact, the government representatives have the last word.” This is especially true for the CODEMUN, which as a city-based organization would have more potential for sustaining collective organization among members of civil society organizations across the municipality. In spite of this, the way the monthly meetings of the CODEMUN are organized and led by the mayor and the municipal administrators does not allow citizens to occupy the public space. Municipal employees indeed lead the meeting, present the proposals to be adopted, respond to the few questions coming from citizens, and argue in favor of the proposal for infrastructure investments that generally have been preapproved by the mayor. The latter preapproves the meeting agenda prepared by the team coordinating public relations. The vote for decision approval is a formality, and rather than being a participatory and deliberative forum, the CODEMUN session looks more like an information session where citizen representatives rubberstamp the administration proposals than a place where they can bring in concerns and particular demands coming from their communities. Thus, the dynamics observed in these meetings corroborate the opinion expressed by the PAN regidora.18 The structure of the decision-making process limits the ability of citizens to really consult and make concerted efforts to organize, formulate collective demands for the common good, and finally contribute to making the local state representatives more accountable and responsive to local needs. Last, the Mexican participatory model developed in Mexico is hyperlocal and very fragmented, which does not support the greater need for building organizational capacity among civil society actors. In fact, most of the mobilization and consultation activities take place at the neighborhood level and are not conveyed to a citizen body at the city level. This fragmentation divides citizens, who have to fight among each other for scarce municipal resources, contributing to the already existing fragmentation of civil society. Moreover, there are no incentives for local COPACIs to work together and develop a citywide perspective of the citizens’ most important and pressing needs, as there is no formal instance for the COPACI leaders to meet each other and deliberate. The CODEMUN does include a forum in which all local committee presidents participate once a month to approve the final infrastructure expenses proposed by the municipal government, but as we have seen, its influence on mobilization patterns and the

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building of organizational skills is curtailed by lack of deliberation among its members. Coupled with similar lack of deliberation in the neighborhoods themselves and the hegemony of both local leaders and bureaucrats over the deliberation process, this fragmentation of the participatory system not only crystallizes the tendency of local leaders to promote particularistic demands but also hinders development of a unified group of citizens in the city, collectively mobilized and representing the common interest. Thus, if institutional design can be transformative and provide the necessary incentives for social leaders to encourage collective mobilization around definition of the common good among citizens, findings in Nezahualcóyotl point to the fact that their effect can be completely the opposite. In this particular case, the institutional design of participatory mechanisms has contributed to reinforcing the historically embedded individual and particularistic patterns of mobilization. However, if institutional design is central to explain the nature of mobilization, it is only by understanding how these institutions are enacted and concretely used by both social and political actors that we can really measure their potential at fostering autonomous participation.

Politicizing and Controlling Participatory Spaces: Actors’ Strategies and Perceptions In Nezahualcóyotl, political parties are highly involved in the various steps of the participatory process, bypassing formal institutions, controlling participants through informal practices and cooption. This type of strategy influences how participants behave within and outside the formal institutions of participation and has consequences on autonomy. If institutional design limits collective mobilization, the political control strategy mostly used by political parties toward participatory mechanisms in Nezahualcóyotl is best explained by the context of competition, the imbalances of power within local CSOs, and the perception shared by both social and political actors about the dysfunctional character of Neza’s participatory structure. Citizen Councils as a Political Strategy in a Competitive Context  In Nezahualcóyotl, the fierce competition between political parties, but more importantly within the ruling PRD coalition through the system of elite circulation and political nomination based on patronage, has led to a


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strategy of state penetration of all public spaces, including the local participatory institutions. First, the fierce external political competition on the local electoral scene, where the PRD has dominated but is still challenged by both the PRI and the PAN in past local elections, has generally been a motive for ruling political parties to occupy as much public space as possible in Nezahualcóyotl, a strategy traditionally used by the PRI to maintain its local hegemony over the city. Though the city has grown into a PRD bastion since its first election in 1996, the PRI has remained an important and well-organized political actor there. The PRI, and the PAN to a lesser extent, has maintained or developed a strong support base in the local communities, backed by their sizable party organization at both the local and state levels. This context of political competition has translated into politicians’ strategies toward social participation and, consequently, the formal participatory mechanisms included in the governance structure. In fact, such a context has created incentives for politicians to control these mechanisms, coopting their leaders in order to secure votes and support among the local social leaders, using them as neighborhood-based political brokers. Thus, in this particular case the opening of the electoral system to political pluralism has indeed increased pressures on local political leaders to develop strategies to secure popular support among the most influential local social leaders, coopting them and giving them privileged access to the political system through the COPACI and the CODEMUN. Moreover, the PRD has also used the structure as a way to accommodate opposition parties. As PAN regidora Evangelina Meza highlighted, both the COPACI and the COPLADEM composition reflect the fact that the PRD is in power because when the convocation for elections is released by the municipal government, the PRD organization already has people formed to campaign, and as a consequence people don’t really participate; they only occupy positions.

In fact, the strategy deployed by the PRD administration to face competition and potential opposition from the ranks of the PRI and the PAN replicates in a pluralistic context the long-used PRI strategy of political cooption and institutional capture that proved to work in securing the PRI’s hegemony. Since the PRD discourse has revolved around inclusion of citizens

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and democratization, however, their strategy has been to formally activate the participatory mechanisms and encourage the “pluralistic” character of their local activities, while using elected positions in citizen councils to accommodate opposition parties, ensuring a presence at the community level in neighborhoods through their traditional social organizations. As both mayor Bautista López and his secretary mentioned in interviews,19 the available councils are divided proportionally among the parties prior to elections so that each party can secure more or less important support for their affiliated electoral slates in a given neighborhood. Yet, careful observation of the PRD’s ruling strategies reveals that, more than using it to please the opposition forces, they also deploy this strategy of state penetration and interest accommodation to face internal divisions and pressures coming from the various factions of the party. The second element deserving particular attention for our analysis is the fact that, in Nezahualcóyotl, there is an important lack of unity within the PRD governing coalition, which was built with the support of local social organizations representing opposing factions within the national structure of the party. The groups who formed the coalition in 1996 came from numerous political groups and parties, and their association under the PRD banner was mostly pragmatic: they needed the Left to become united in order to gain sufficient electoral support to defeat the PRI and get elected. The tenuous agreement then reached, which had previously divided leaders, was thus based on rational assessment: the PRD was the only viable option to defeat the PRI, as the better-organized and established political party at the left of the political spectrum. The party nominated a catch-all candidate for mayor, Valentin González Bautista, who was considered neutral by the members of the local coalition. González Bautista was, however, quickly recruited by MOVIDIG, which soon became the dominant group in the governing coalition, creating imbalances of power between its members that have remained important and divisive within the party. Disputes over career advancement within the local PRD are an interesting manifestation of such internal competition, as Nezahualcóyotl’s local PRD organization is notorious for being one where family relations and group affiliations and leadership can be the best way to advance someone’s political career.20 The nature of local political competition within the PRD has a consequence on the electoral and governing strategies deployed by its politicians, because their objective is not necessarily to be reelected


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by the population in the short run. Rather they seek to advance within the ranks of the party, for which they need party endorsement and a source of mobilized popular support, found through the formal participatory mechanisms to whose reactivation they contributed. This trend toward using instances of citizen participation as a tool for partisan mobilization and to dominate the internal political competition for career advancement and influence is reinforced by the fact that the factions within the PRD are constantly disputing power with each other. The conflicts between the PRD factions, inherited from the improbable alliance they reached to run under the banner of the PRD in 1996, affected the nature of the PRD governance in the municipality (Duhau and Schteingart 2001). Two main strategies have been observed as a consequence. Miguel López Díaz, an influential PRD regidor, suggests that the result of his group’s social work in the urban communities, along with the other social organizations involved with the PRD, is that “their members impel other people to occupy political spaces [such as the participatory institutions], which serve to facilitate the administrative steps citizens need to go through to solve their problems.” In fact, as a COPACI president suggested, he became involved in the municipality through his activism in UPREZ and, from there, We have received support from this social organization to be able to get more formal representation within the framework of the Ley Orgánica, including a more direct interaction with municipal authorities. Why? Because, as a social realization, and according to your weight in the local community, it’s the entrance that they give you for interactions with the municipal government. (Alberto)

Moreover, participatory venues themselves can serve as a launching pad to start a political career, as one CODEMUN president noted: “What happens is that many people get involved because we know it is of political interest to do so and to get a nomination within the PRD” (José). In fact, participation in either the COPACI or the CODEMUN served the elected councilors politically: they could then develop legitimacy and deploy the necessary networks and resources to mobilize support, using their position as a first step into a political career (Arzaluz Solano 2002). Thus the combined effect of increasing political competition and lack of unity among the governing forces has created incentives for politicians to use participatory mechanisms as a platform for political struggles between

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parties and factions to secure a party’s hegemony or personal career advancement, mostly through political cooption. The political context, rather than allowing pluralistic and autonomous forms of participation to emerge, creates a situation where the formal mechanisms are informally captured by political parties and become informal spaces for continuing the political struggles beyond the electoral arena. The consequent lack of autonomy among participants has important consequences for the deepening of democracy, as the elected representatives of the participatory committees and the elected members of the government are more responsive to the party national and factional leaders than to their own constituency, curtailing the participants’ ability to sanction them for their wrongdoings. Civil Society Organizations: Politicized and Divided  In Nezahualcóyotl, the social organizations with greater social mobilization capacity and, in turn, political leverage are affiliated with the governing party. This affects the composition of citizen participation councils in the city and leaves little space for independent organizations to emerge. Yet, their important conflicts and power imbalances reflect on the participatory governance process and hence on the possibilities of developing a strong, autonomous, and organized civil society where social and civil organizations peacefully coexist in the political space in order to collectively work toward the social construction of inclusive citizenship rights in the city. First, there are serious imbalances in terms of access to municipal authorities among the existing civil society organizations in the municipality, which prevent development of autonomous civil society organizations. These imbalances find their source in part in the history of the rise of the PRD coalition in the 1990s, which benefited from the support of three important social organizations in 1996. All of them were closely tied to the urban popular movements and therefore had solid, yet distinct, popular bases in the municipality and contributed importantly to the political socialization of numerous secondary associations at the community level (Arzaluz Solano 2002). These close relationships between social organizations, secondary residents’ associations, and the party were central to the party’s election in the first place, but they also mark the further development of the party’s support structure and reflect the internal divisions within the PRD. As a consequence, most PRD presidentes municipales, regidores, and sindicos were recruited from the social organizations affiliated with the party, the faction of the PRD ruling over the city being from its


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grassroots activist branch, with which they generally keep close ties and alliances. As highlighted by Iván, a high-ranking member of the ayuntamiento, who was also affiliated with the party, “There are many different groups active within the PRD, political factions, groups involved as community groups providing socioeconomic assistance, or civil associations.” PRD regidor León Díaz, an active member of a movement called Movimiento Cuarto Nezahualcóyotl Dos, A.C., expressed his commitment to the social organization he was “representing” within the PRD, saying, “My social activities in the organization are my priority [ . . . ] I spend half of my time as a regidor there.” He went on: We have many programs to support the citizens of Nezahualcóyotl. Our main program consists of bringing first-necessity products to the poor, who can save for other things such as education, health, or housing. We also help them to deal with all the questions relative to municipal procedures.

These groups, providing assistance to the poor through diverse programs, are clearly associated with the PRD, some even openly displaying the party’s logo beside theirs. The social activities of the PRD affiliates create an association between the party and the existence of services for those organizations’ clienteles. This gives a direct source of support to the party in its targeted electorate, which can associate provision of services with the party via its affiliates and indirectly place their beneficiaries in a position where they become the PRD’s clientele.21 As a consequence, the PRD-affiliated civil society groups enjoy much better, though dependent, access to municipal leaders, who then need their loyalty to reach the population and gather popular support. Second, and as a direct consequence of the political divisions between the municipality’s stronger social organizations, COPACI and CODEMUN have become spaces of power struggles among civil society groups whose divisions hinder longer-term action and organizational capacity before the municipal government. As the electoral process tends to involve groups affiliated with parties, it puts them in opposition to one another, and as a result it intensifies and crystallizes already existing conflicts among the groups and factions. Moreover, since there is a single-term limit for the COPACIs, social groups attempt to disorganize their competitors, and especially those who form the current council. A COPACI president explains that for this reason, incumbents have

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less possibilities of pushing people of the same group to come after them to continue the work that is being done. There is sometimes a dirty war between the social groups present in a neighborhood and who fight to have the COPACI. (Alberto)

Therefore, divided civil society groups, rather than collectively organizing within the existing participatory channels, use participatory institutions to get better and privileged access to the municipal government at the expense of the other groups and, as a result, of the citizenry’s interests. Moreover, this same person adds, this divisive and competitive dynamic leads to poor collaboration between the COPACI and the CODEMUN across the various neighborhoods, because they are often from distinct factions or groups and they don’t see you as part of a team, which would certainly be great to evaluate more generally the problems of the municipality. It is not done, however, for a variety of reasons, from political ideals to ways of doing things locally. (Alberto)

Therefore, divisions and competition within a civil society where some organizations have privileged access to power and resources also diminish the capacity of independent citizens and groups to collectively organize and reach the local state, sustaining a model of nonautonomous civil society interacting in a corporatist and personalistic way with the municipal state and its politicians. The Meaning of Participation: An Obligation for Politicians, a Municipal Responsibility for Participants  The autonomy of participants is also framed and defined by the perception held by both societal participants and government members of their respective roles and functions in the participatory process, by the meaning they each attribute to their participation and their interactions. These perceptions, which are mutually constructed and reinforced, affect the actual process in many ways, but especially regarding how participants from both society and the municipal government engage with one another and take part in the governance process. On the one hand, Neza’s politicians and bureaucrats share a quite pessimistic view of citizen participation mechanisms. In public, political leaders proudly talk about the citizen participation mechanisms as pillars of the democratic decision-making structure. In practice, however, local politicians do not consider the existing participatory mechanisms as being crucial to the governance process. As mayor Víctor Bautista López stressed in


ciudad nezahualcóyotl

an interview, “many of the last municipal administrations saw the elections of those COPACIs and CODEMUN as an obligation. They do not function so well in reality [ . . . ], and most participation in Neza is actually taking place through the PRD” or the other political parties. This negative perception affects not only how political actors interact with participants and committee members but also more largely the extent to which they engage in making state-sanctioned participatory mechanisms efficient spaces for autonomous civil society input on public policy issues. On the other hand, societal participants generally speak very positively about their role in the governance process. They posit themselves as having a responsibility toward their fellow citizens, and also toward the municipal government. As explained by a very active COPACI president from Zona Centro: Our role is very serious because we are the interlocutors of the community and we see an obligation, a responsibility to sustain the municipal government to give some tranquility to the municipality. (Alberto)

In fact, and especially in the CODEMUN, many elected participants perceive their role as citizen delegates of the municipal government in the communities, and not as representatives of the general population making demands on the government. As a CODEMUN president explained: We are the municipality field workers, because I know a lot more people in the community than the people in the municipal delegation’s office [in Zona Norte], they have me well located to do so. (Vicente)

They therefore conceive their own role as being to inform the local government about local needs in places where the state wouldn’t have an antenna, or the organizational capacity to gather information, rather than being to channel social demands and collectively demand inclusion. Contrary to the idea that democratic civil society should aim to autonomously demand inclusion within the structure of the state conveyed by the concept of civil society, this perception sustains the idea of nonautonomous social organizations trying to become unequal and corporate partners of the state. This type of perception and the resulting behavior of actors involved in Nezahualcóyotl’s participatory mechanisms have two main consequences on the autonomy of participation. First, how elected citizen representatives engage in their function, as representatives of the municipal government

ciudad nezahualcóyotl


rather than as representation channels for the residents, tends to reinforce the observed apathy of ordinary residents toward participatory mechanisms. In fact, many citizens do not feel their demands and their voice as participants are really what makes a difference in the elaboration of policies and programs. As a COPACI president Rodrigo pointed out: “We work, and nothing happens here. They do have resources, but the people’s demands don’t match their own priorities, and they don’t have money for those.” Cynical about the participatory function of the COPACI and having stopped the councils’ activities in his neighborhood, he explained that: The COPACIs’ role is, according to me [and ordinary citizens], to organize people so that when there are elections, there are people who are mobilized to indirectly help a political party. There is not the written role, but there is also what is actually done. (Rodrigo)

This understanding of participatory mechanisms, conveyed by certain local leaders, tends to be generalized to ordinary citizens who generally lack information about them and tend to see them as another form of political venue rather than autonomous and citizen-based. Consequently, they do not participate actively to press the elected councils for better representation and accountable microgovernance. Second, as a consequence of politicians’ negative perceptions of existing participatory mechanisms and of their limited political will to make them more efficient, there are few capacity-building initiatives that would allow participants to better understand their role as citizens and, in turn, to demand collectively better access to the rights of citizenship.

Conclusion This chapter demonstrates that, even if clientelism has adapted to the new context of competitive elections and citizen participation, it still defines state-society relationships in Nezahualcóyotl. In spite of public efforts to overcome the legacy of the PRI rule, the city administration still works through political privileges and nurtures clientelistic relationships organized around a strongly institutionalized party system. Thus, participatory democracy institutions have had a limited transformative effect on state-society relationships, and not contributed to the


ciudad nezahualcóyotl

deepening of local democracy in Nezahualcóyotl. On the one hand, the institutional space for citizen participation created by the COPACI and the CODEMUN systems as it was designed in Nezahualcóyotl did not foster changes in traditional patterns of social mobilization, leaving them mostly oriented toward particularistic demands formulated and channeled to the local state through political connections and privileged relationships with COPACI and CODEMUN members. By empowering particular individuals as the legitimate channel for citizens to address their demands, the local participatory structure created new forms of privileged access to power and financial resources, strengthening the current inequalities among civil society according to their relationship with the governing party. In this manner, the participatory institutions contribute to strengthen social exclusion rather than creating opportunities to empower the traditionally marginalized. On the other hand, and even more important, how political and social actors strategize and behave within the institutions of participation has allowed their capture by political parties and their affiliated social organizations, using them as political tools through informal practices of cooption. The political control exercised by political elites over the participatory mechanisms prevents an autonomous civil society from emerging as an actor and equal partner with the local state, maintaining the citizens’ dependency on the will of politicians for accessing the basic rights of citizenship. This limits autonomy because particularistic ties fostered through these practices prevent citizens from holding politicians responsible for their decisions. Autonomy is also weakened by the lack of transparency of such a policy-making strategy, undermining the potential for citizen participation to be integrated and channeled within the democratic structure of the state and hence for citizens to really hold local politicians accountable and responsive for their decisions and actions.


León Participation as Fragmented Inclusion Participatory institutions have worked so as to bring citizens closer to the local government and they need to continue working and growing. The citizen committees were born out of necessity. Now, our society needs to learn how to get together and participate with the government. — e lv i r a ,

citizen councilor



León is an historical city located in the state of Guanajuato, in the central part of Mexico. Considered to be the heart of the Catholic Church in Mexico, L eón is characterized by a strong conservative background. With a population of nearly 1.3 million, it has grown into an important economic center of the country, which strength is based on a tradition of small entrepreneurship. As in the rest of the country, the PRI dominated the local political arena throughout the twentieth century. There is, however, an important tradition of opposition to the regime and of political organization; though the corporatist structure is well developed, the local administration has allowed the existence of a controlled political opposition able to compete in (but not win) local elections. During the political opening of the 1980s, León became fertile terrain for the rise of the PAN as a major political force able to overcome the traditional domination of the PRI at the local level. Did the early electoral successes of the PAN in León contribute to the democratization of local governance processes, as they consistently promised since 1988? More specifically, what has been the impact of the participatory mechanisms introduced by the PAN on the transformation of



inherited clientelistic state-society relationships? This chapter shows how and why in León, if local participatory institutions have been used as a mechanism to include democratically autonomous citizen participation and input in the local decision-making process, this social inclusion was achieved in a fragmented way. Although it constitutes a substantial transformation of previous state-society relationships, citizens are still mostly mobilized individually in participatory mechanisms, and civil society remains poorly organized.

The For m ation of the Cit y: From Political R epr ession and Clientelism t o P o l i t i c a l A l t e r n a t i o n (19 4 0 –19 88) The history of postrevolutionary León’s city formation is marked by a certain degree of political and social counterrevolutionary mobilization, which led to the rise of political parties and social movements opposed to the official positions of the revolutionary party. In spite of this peculiarity, León also saw events of overt political repression in 1946 that weakened the opposition. The municipality thus became another exemplary instance of the PRI’s hegemonic corporatist model, reflecting the dual nature of León’s society: often opposed to local government policies while being dependent on it through the corporatist system established by the PRI for resource distribution, preventing social organizations from becoming autonomous civil society actors. This legacy, however, allowed local opposition to exist throughout the PRI rule. Though remaining generally weak in the city until the 1980s, the PAN experienced strong reemergence as a viable opposition party early in the 1980s, making León one of the first Mexican municipalities to elect a non-PRI local government in 1988.

Establishing the PRI Hegemony: Political Repression and Clientelism León’s postrevolutionary history is often looked at as an exception in Mexico: opposition to the PRM (ancestor of the PRI) was fierce. Social contention was organized around political expression of the ideological disagreements between the PRI elites and the powerful Catholic Church’s



local social movements, such as the Unión Nacional Sinarquísta (UNS, National Sinarquist Union). Moreover, the powerful local entrepreneurs and relatively wealthy families from the industrial sector were relatively independent from political influences and cooption (Shirk 1999). The local political postrevolutionary class was thus divided: the PAN was indeed created in 1939, as an alliance between religious and economic leaders under the umbrella of the Unión Cívica de León (UCL, León Civic Union). After 1946, however, León’s local corporatist structure, though articulated through different mechanisms, evolved to resemble the other large municipalities of the country. The relatively autonomous political and social activism that was typical of the postrevolutionary years in León dramatically decreased (Shirk 1999), and the PRI maintained clear political domination over the municipal government of León until 1988. The party managed to keep both political and social opposition forces fragmented and poorly organized, consolidating its corporatist structure through cooption and clientelism, but also using political repression. The political repression of the 1946 protests constitute an important turning point in León, when both social and political opposition forces became weak and fragmented actors that would not again be able to consistently challenge the PRI and mobilize significant numbers of supporters until the 1980s. That year, PRI leader Ignacio Quiroz was appointed municipal president, in spite of electoral results in favor of the PAN candidate Carlos Obregón. The next day, the historical city center became the scene of a massive mobilization from a pro-PAN coalition publicly contesting the results of the mayoral election and the “illegitimate” municipal president. This demonstration was violently repressed by the military, leading to at least thirty dead and six hundred injured. This episode not only contributed to shutting down political activity outside the PRI’s ranks, but it also set the stage for decades of generally uncontested PRI rule in León. Though the PAN remained somewhat politically active as the opposition party in local elections, the party organization remained weak and struggled to gather support and attract interest (Shirk 1999, 2005). Moreover, several opposition leaders were nominated to key administrative functions in city hall, thus coopted by the PRI (Valencia García 2001). After this episode, the PRI’s strategy was to build corporatist alliances with the more salient sectors of civil society, nurtured by clientelistic statesociety relationships. Union leaders became an important source of support



for the PRI and the backbone of the local corporatist structure behind the party’s political hegemony. In fact, a key characteristic of state-society relationships in the municipality was the alliance between the official party and the powerful local unions. Three strategic organizations supported the PRI: the shoe industry unions affiliated with the CTM, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Seguro Social (SNTSS, National Union of Social Security Workers), and the local sections of the CNOP. Although strategically close to the unionized workers, the PRI could also count on an alliance with the social sector. As in the case of Nezahualcóyotl, the rapid expansion of the city was generally made at the expense of newcomers, who even today are buying parcels of land from fraccionadores who have obtained property titles for the previously collectively owned ejidos (collective land for farming). The growing number of residents buying these parcels of land, categorized as irregular and generally sold without access to basic urban services, has generated an important urbanization problem for municipal governments. Large parts of León indeed developed into colonias populares for whose residents access to basic urban services depended on whether social leaders could formulate demands on the local authorities and establish privileged relationships with them. The PRI traditionally used political class renewal strategies (nominations for local deputy and municipal councilor positions) as a reward for loyal social organizations and union leaders who, in exchange, used their leadership to offer the party a captive clientele that would support the party and to organize electoral campaigns (Ortiz García 1991). As a result, by the early 1980s the local PRI leaders had managed to coopt most of the influential union leaders and socially recognized leaders of neighborhood associations and self-help groups within the structure of the party, obtaining their loyal support in exchange for political favors and privileged access to power resources. Thus, if a certain level of civil society organization was observable in the city, social activism and unionism were far from autonomous: it was instead characterized by the prevalence of clientelistic state-society relationships and entrenched in the corporatist system of the PRI. Local consulting processes, called the neighbors’ tables, were put in place by the PRI, as part of this architecture to reach popular sector support. These tables, formed by PRI-nominated local leaders, were indeed used as a clientelistic redistribution tool to secure political support for the PRI in the communities. As a long-time neighborhood activist explained, favoritism characterized the



neighbors’ tables system: “when the person was a friend or an acquaintance of the administration: in that case, things were done immediately whereas when you were not a friend or were from another party, things were never getting done” (Henrique). The more vulnerable residents of the irregular neighborhoods of the city became heavily dependent on local authorities for accessing basic services such as sewage, electricity, water, and street pavement, keeping the population in a state both of extreme dependence on personal and political connections and of vulnerability due to their status as captive clients. Thus citizen participation was tightly connected to the construction of the party’s clientele, and of its network of political brokers among neighborhood leaders. Consequently, as in the case of Nezahualcóyotl, the PRI established a particularistic and clientelistic structure of interest intermediation through powerful local individuals having close ties with the party. This corporatist structure not only contributed to the successes of the official (though controversial) party in León but also fostered the weakening and fragmentation of political opposition forces and hindered development of an autonomous civil society, two challenges that the PAN had to face during the opening of the municipal electoral arena in the 1980s.

The Rise of the PAN: Viable Opposition from the Right The León section of the PAN had existed and been active during local electoral cycles since 1937, but the federal opening of the municipal electoral arenas allowed the party to effectively challenge the PRI’s electoral hegemony. As Table 5.1 shows, from 1988 to 2012, the PAN has managed to repeatedly get its candidates for mayor elected, as well as a majority of its candidates for regidores in León with a more or less stable share of the popular vote. Empowerment of the PAN in León occurred simultaneously with the party’s evolution as a national opposition during the 1980s, but it culminated only in 2000 with the election of Vicente Fox (an ex-governor of the State of Guanajuato) as president of the Mexican Republic.1 As the PAN was already a registered political party in León, its ascension toward forming the municipal government and overcoming the PRI local hegemony was relatively quick. As early as 1982, the party started to make significant electoral gains in the city at the expense of its natural opponent and, in 1988, won the mayoral election with a significant majority.



table 5.1  Vote for Municipal President and City Council in León, 1989–2009 Mandate 1989–1992


1995–1997 1997–2000





Political Parties / Elected Mayors

% Vote

PAN (Carlos Medina Plascencia, elected)





PAN (Eliseo Martínez Pérez, elected)





PAN (Luis M. Quirós Echegaray, elected)






PAN (Jorge Carlos Obregón Serrano, elected)





PAN (Luis Ernesto Ayala Torres, elected)





PAN (Ricardo Alaniz Posada, elected)






PAN (Vicente Guerrero Reynoso, elected)





PAN (Francisco Ricardo Sheffield Padilla, elected) PRI

47.3% 35.4%




sources: Instituto Electoral del Estado de Guanajuato, [page consulted 16/04/09], Guadalupe Valencia García and Enrique Cabrero Mendoza’s reports elaborated from IEEG and the previous State of Guanajuato Electoral Commission data (Cabrero Mendoza 2006a, 196; Valencia García 1996, 91).

Two sets of factors explain the early successes of the PAN in León. First, the traditional culture of small entrepreneurship, conservatism, and anticentralism that characterizes León’s population has made the city fertile ground for the reemergence and strengthening of the PAN in the 1980s (Valencia García 2001), at the expense of other minor parties. In fact, the PAN has generally been identified as “the party opposed to, first, constitutional anticlericalism



and second, more recently, to state intervention in the economy” (Ortiz García 1991, 8). Playing on collective memories and latent social opposition to the PRI regime, the PAN thus built a pro-localism, pro-Catholicism, and pro-private entrepreneurship political agenda to mobilize popular support, a strategy that led to its electoral successes (Valencia García 1996). Second, both the internal divisions and crises of the local PRI organization and the larger context of political mobilization behind the candidacy of PAN member Manuel Clouthier for the presidential election (Mora Macbeath 2008; Shirk 1999) contributed to fomenting the momentum that led to the PAN victory in León. The national economic crisis that had plagued Mexico since the mid-1980s—attributed to the mismanagement of the PRI—was already an important source of discontentment in León, where local economic development was mostly dependent on small and medium entrepreneurs who were affected by the crisis. It was, however, the repeated denunciations of corruption against the local PRI members that not only engendered an important internal conflict within the official party, weakening its local organization and traditional cohesion, but also raised many doubts about its already shaken legitimacy (Valencia García 1996). Both elements played in favor of the PAN, which could then present itself as the party of social and political justice in a context of generalized distrust for PRI politicians, as well as a unified and well-structured opposition force that could take up the challenge of governance. The PAN was therefore able to mobilize voters and supporters coming from all sectors: from the local business class, and also from the youth movements and more traditional sectors of the urban population. Contrary to the trajectory of the PRD in Nezahualcóyotl, where political pluralism first led to the rise of multiple and often opposing political forces, the rise of the Right took place in a unified manner in León, under the already organized PAN as the political banner uniting all the conservative social forces. As a result, the 1988 municipal election brought several changes in the city’s political landscape, with the election of the first officially recognized PAN mayor, Carlos Medina Plascencia. His election has had many consequences for the local governance model. First, it paved the way for professionalization of the party and an increase in its organizational and mobilization capacities, helping it become a dominant political force (see Table 5.1). León soon became an important political bastion of the PAN and an incubator of many PAN leaders over the past few years, with Vicente Fox being the best-known example. Second, PAN leaders came to power with great expectations for transforming



the traditional and clientelistic modes of governance established under the PRI and for trying “new types of relations based upon citizen participation in the government tasks” (Valencia García 1996, 82). Contrary to the PRD in Nezahualcóyotl, the PAN did not pursue its participatory governance agenda for ideological motives, but rather for pragmatic reasons: increasing the efficiency of the governance process and the responsiveness of the urban development policies to actual citizens’ needs. The party therefore promoted the idea of a better local governance process based on citizen participation and collaboration between the state and its citizens meant to transform the clientelistic state-society relationships established under the PRI regime.

T h e PA N a n d C i t i z e n Pa rt ic i pat ion: Pa rt ic i patory Pl a n n i ng a n d miercol e s ciudadano

The Ley Orgánica para los municipios del Estado de Guanajuato (Organic Law for Municipalities of the State of Guanajuato) includes concern for citizen participation, broadly defined. Article 17 indeed stipulates that municipalities should promote citizen participation for community development through “neighborhood councils and associations, as institutions for social participation and collaboration in the administration of popular demands and of proposals of general interest” (Congreso del Estado de Guanajuato 1997, art. 17). Although in operation since before 1988, citizens were under the impression that the PRI was not particularly inclined to activate these citizens’ committees and councils outside the controlled and organized structure of the party, as consejero Jesus and comité de colonos President Henrique emphasized in interviews. Election of the PAN in 1988, however, brought participatory governance to the fore in the municipal government’s agenda. In his first-year government report, Mayor Medina Plascencia reaffirmed (1989, 65) the centrality of institutionalized and autonomous forms of citizen participation for his administration: The common work of the administration and of the population to realize public works for the common good leaves behind the ominous patrimonialism through which it was usual to govern [ . . . ]. This citizen-based organization is promoted beyond partisan interests. The city council governs for all Leones, without exception.



This commitment to institutionalizing participatory processes was carried out under Medina’s government with the recognition and promotion of the comités de colonos as agents of local development, and then pursued by his successors (Cabrero Mendoza 2006; Guarneros-Meza 2007). Two closely intertwined mechanisms compose the current participatory governance system in León: (1) the COPLADEM (Comité para la planeación del desarollo municipal), the citizen-based planning process, supported by the system of the consejeros ciudadanos (citizen councilors) and comités de colonos (neighbors committees); and (2) the Miércoles Ciudadano (Citizen Wednesdays).

The COPLADEM Process and the comités de colonos In conformity with the dispositions of the SNDP adopted in 1996 by the federal government, León’s PAN administration chose to establish a COPLADEM as its local participatory planning structure, thereby including citizens in discussions of the annual urban development plan. In many Mexican municipalities, this participatory figure has become either an empty shell or a mechanism that consults only city notables. In León, the model developed by the PAN administration of Quirós Echegaray in 1998 was, however, conceived to include both the local government’s representatives and the general population, in order to “foster the integral and democratic planning of the city” (H. Ayuntamiento de León 1996). Every year, the COPLADEM process (see Figure 5.1) thus ensures that citizens will be included as a majoritarian partner in urban planning decisions through two existing citizen-based mechanisms: the comités de colonos, mobilized at the neighborhood level; and the elected consejeros, who represent their respective members in the COPLADEM commissions and discussions over municipal investment priorities. As the figure illustrates, elaboration of the annual urban planning proposal is done in a yearlong process divided into a series of steps involving the direct and indirect participation and input of citizens. The first step of the COPLADEM participatory process takes place at the grassroots level and consists of distributing information about the process and the ensuing public consultation to be done at the neighborhood level. This first part of the process therefore directly involves citizens’ active participation through their local comités de colonos. The comités de colonos are neighborhood elected citizen committees promoted by and working hand in hand with the



figure 5.1  COPLADEM Annual Participatory Planning Process in León, 1996–2008 source: Compiled by the author from original data collected through interviews with municipal public officials and from internal documents prepared by the city of León (H. Ayuntamiento de León 2006a).

Dirección de Desarrollo Social (Social Development Office) of the municipality. According to the municipal organic regulation, it is in fact the municipal social development agents who encourage creation of committees in every officially recognized neighborhood (H. Ayuntamiento de León 2006b). The municipality is divided into more than nine hundred colonias (neighborhoods) located in three zones (Norte, Centro, Sur), again subdivided into eleven smaller sectors. Each colonia can elect a comité de colonos, which consists of eight members elected by popular assemblies convoked in collaboration with the Dirección de Desarrollo Social. These comités are voluntary, and not all neighborhoods have an active committee. As explained by Edmundo, the director of Desarollo Social, in an interview,2 only the officially regularized neighborhoods can have a comité recognized by the municipal government as the channel for citizen participation. This is an inherent limit of these committees, as the still unregularized neighborhoods (generally the most vulnerable ones) do not have this privileged access to the municipal government and so to the basic urban services it provides through the demands formulated by the committees. Yet their number has consistently increased since institutionalization as the official entity for citizen participation in 1990: from a mere 72 in 1989 (Cabrero Mendoza 1995), municipal data showed that there were more than 450 comités de colonos active in 2007, in as many neighborhoods of León (Table 5.2). Committee members, who must be residents of the neighborhood for which they run, are elected for a three-year mandate (renewable once) by



table 5.2  Evolution of the Number of comités de colonos Registered, León, 1989– 2007 Mandates

Comités de colonos

% of Growth






















source: Compilation by the author with data from the Informes de Gobierno (Government Reports) produced by the municipal presidents of the H. Ayuntamiento de León between 1989–2007.

their neighbors in assemblies that have to gather 50 percent plus one of the neighborhood’s residents and house owners to be valid. The election process can thus take one, two, or three assemblies (the third one being the last one), depending on whether the local committees are able to mobilize their neighbors or not in the first assembly. The committees are composed of eight members (and their respective alternates): a president, a general secretary, a treasurer, and five secretaries associated with thematic commissions (social development, education, culture, security and public transportation, infrastructure). Although originally loosely defined by municipal regulations, the comités’ formal roles, attributions, and rules have been defined by municipal law since 2008, as organs of citizen representation, participation and collaboration for the management of social interest demands and proposals for a neighborhood [ . . . ] that are composed of a group of citizens democratically elected in a constitutive assembly, with the objective of protecting, fostering and improving the general interest of the population through citizen participation, collaboration and solidarity, creating a direct relationship of the authorities with the citizenry, thereby reaching its development (H. Ayuntamiento de León 2008, art. 3).

In concrete terms, these neighborhood committees perform functions similar to those of the COPACI in Nezahualcóyotl: they organize general assemblies in their neighborhood, gather their neighbors’ demands, and



channel them to the local administration through existing mechanisms. They contribute to the participatory urban planning process by including citizens’ input in defining their neighborhoods’ priorities. As such, they actively participate in the COPLADEM process, mandated by the local administration to organize public assemblies, receive citizens’ requests, and collectively identify the needs of their local communities in terms of infrastructure and urban development projects. As shown in Figure 5.1, the later steps of the COPLADEM participatory process still involve citizen participation, but less directly. In fact, the role of the comités de colonos in the planning process is generally confined to mobilization at the grassroots level. They are, however, also actively engaged with the other neighborhoods of their city sector via the election of the consejeros ciudadanos (citizen councilors), representatives who act as direct intermediaries between the government and the comités de colonos of their respective city sectors in the COPLADEM process. Every three years, the comités de colonos elect one consejero per sector (twenty-two urban and twelve rural consejeros) to represent them at the municipal level. Consejeros are responsible not only for channeling local demands to the municipal authorities but also for discussing and debating the broader questions of planning and public works in adopting a citywide perspective. It is in this perspective that the consejeros are included in the third step of the COPLADEM process: city prioritization of the public works evaluated as feasible by the technical staff of the local government and determination of beneficiaries among the submitted proposals. The consejeros thus become citizen representatives participating with municipal councilors and public officials in discussions of policy priorities taking place in the several thematic commissions to which the demands are transmitted. Then the permanent commission of the COPLADEM, composed of consejeros and regidores, taking stock of the proposals made by the several thematic commissions, works on elaborating the final investment plan for urban planning to be submitted to the municipal council for final approval. The council’s final decision is again overseen by the COPLADEM and publicly announced to citizens through the consejeros and comités de colonos.

Direct Citizen Participation: The Miércoles Ciudadano Another important participatory innovation implemented by the PAN in León is the Miércoles Ciudadano (Citizens’ Wednesday), a program that



offers ordinary citizens an opportunity to access city hall and administrative personnel to directly formulate their demands and express specific concerns. This innovative experiment, started in León in 1994 and generally considered by local politicians to be successful in terms of participation rate, has also been reproduced by several PAN administrations and implemented in about forty urban municipalities across the country (H. Ayuntamiento de León 2007). The mechanism is relatively simple, as it involves direct interactions between individual citizens and members of the local government and administration. Since 1994, every Wednesday morning, city hall has hosted thousands of citizens who address their requests directly to the mayor and his secretaries. Requests vary in type, but they generally concern particular needs affecting one citizen or a few. Typical requests formulated through the Miércoles include street repairs, street lighting, trash collection, and questions regarding social programs, but they can also include very personal concerns related to unemployment and job search, contested fines, and so on. This program, meant to offer individual citizens direct access to public administration officials, is also an important retroaction system for the local government, allowing authorities to get a better sense of citizens’ daily preoccupations and demands through direct contact (Cabrero Mendoza 2006). A year after its implementation, the mayor was explaining the rationale behind the program in his Informe de Gobierno: We know that a government that listens to its society fosters participatory democracy, and this is where we have concentrated our efforts, to build the León that we want. [ . . . ] Today, the Citizens’ Wednesday is one of the best indicators through which we [the government] perceive reality. It is the instrument that serves to orient the work of the municipal government. (Quirós Echegaray 1996, 7–8)

More than a mere participatory mechanism created in order for individual citizens to be able to bypass the traditional demand-making channels mediated by political brokers associated with the PRI, the Miércoles Ciudadano has been used by the local government as a way to better understand the needs and concerns of its electorate between elections. Since its implementation, this governmental program has had tremendous success in terms of the participation rate in León, as the statistics on citizen participation per year presented in Table 5.3 show. With the



exception of 2007, the number of participants in the Miércoles has consistently increased since implementation in 1994. The decrease in participants’ numbers observed in 2007 most likely corresponds to a major modification in the Miércoles Ciudadano rules adopted under Mayor Guerrero Reynoso. As explained by the person responsible for the program, the Miércoles was becoming a space for citizens to resolve personal problems (cancellation of a fine, a demand for a water or tax discount, etc.) rather than to formulate demands that would be of more general interest for their neighbors or the city. The director of the program, Diana, explained in an interview that in reaction to this “perversion” of the mechanism, Mayor Guerrero Reynoso decided to address only demands qualified as being of collective interest, thereby abolishing the possibility of citizens making requests related to personal issues, requests that were causing long waiting lines.3 As Table 5.3 suggests, the government’s self-evaluation of the success of the experiment does not rely exclusively on participation rate, but on the capacity of the local government to actually respond to those demands as well. In fact, according to its own numbers, the León municipal administration has generally responded quite well to the population demands, though not necessarily with positive answers. It is thus interesting to note that for the local government, a “no” corresponds to a response, giving only an aggregate response rate that does not distinguish between the positive response rate and the negative one, which may lead to false conclusions about the actual efficiency of the mechanism to respond to citizens’ demands and needs. The mechanism is therefore widely used by individual citizens and also by comités de colonos representatives, who use it as another formal channel to address their neighborhood needs and concerns. This is an interesting finding, as it suggests that the individual mechanisms of participation are perceived as a legitimate and efficient way for collective actors to channel their demands to the local state and supplement the collective ones. This fact illustrates the perceived efficiency of collective mechanisms among the population, and—we will see in greater detail next—it also tends to corroborate observations about the generally individual nature of participation in León, reinforced by the type of representation channels privileged by the local government for receiving and treating citizens’ demands.



table 5.3  Number of Individual Participants (Demands) to the Miércoles Ciudadano, León, 1994–2007 Year*

Number of Citizens

Response Rate
















source: Compilation by the author with data from the Informes de Gobierno (Government Reports) produced by the municipal presidents of the H. Ayuntamiento de León between 1994 and 2007. note: The statistics compiled correspond to the number of participants registered after the first year of each president’s mandate since the introduction of the Miércoles Ciudadano in León.

Institutionalizing Autonomous Bu t Indi v idua l Mobiliz at ion: A C a se of Fr agmented Inclusion The framework of citizen participation established under the PAN government in León arguably represents a dramatic break with the past PRI model of centralized and corporatist governance, at least formally. León is often considered by the literature as one of the “successful” models of participatory democracy in Mexico. In fact, creation by the PAN governments of León of institutional opportunities for citizen participation has extended the public space (Guarneros-Meza 2007), and citizens have been better included in the governance processes (Cabrero Mendoza 2006; Porras 2005). Still, little is known about how the various actors involved in these institutions have taken advantage of the new participatory mechanisms and used them in practice. Contrary to the observations made in Nezahualcóyotl, León’s experience with local participatory democracy can be considered a transformative one that has fostered a change in the clientelistic logic defining state-society relationships under the PRI regime, at least to a certain extent. It provides new spaces for the participants to gain some autonomy from traditional channels of participation, such as the political parties (Guarneros-Meza 2007), and has contributed to professionalize the way municipal authorities



process citizen demands. Still, it has transformed state-society relationships from a clientelistic model into a fragmented inclusion model, which has a somewhat limited impact in terms of participatory innovation on the deepening of democracy. On the one hand, autonomous citizen participation insulated from political pressures does allow inclusion and undermines the prevalence of personal ties for accessing public goods, which are no longer considered political privileges. At the same time, the fragmented and individual logic by which citizens are mobilized reveals the limited capacity of citizens to collectively mobilize to formulate collective demands and make the state more accountable.

Mobilizing Disconnected Individuals in the City Microplanning Process The goal of León’s participatory model was to achieve more efficient service delivery, and also to foster social organization and collective mobilization capacities from the bottom up. Yet close examination reveals a tendency for participatory mechanisms to mobilize individuals on the basis of specific and particularistic needs. The work of the comités de colonos and consejeros in the COPLADEM process and beyond, though dedicated to urban and social development needs, is generally accomplished without much effort at organizing the disconnected and disorganized populations and without including the already organized civic associations. This observation of the predominance of individual mobilization processes is exacerbated by the local government’s tendency to privilege demands coming through the Miércoles Ciudadano, which curtails the role of institutional collective mobilization processes by giving more importance to individual mobilization and demand-making processes. The idea behind the creation of comités de colonos was that ordinary citizens should be included in the decisions taken over issues affecting them. They were supposed to bring citizens into organizing, consulting, and deliberating locally and, thereby, to strengthen collective organizational capacity at the grass roots. But the reality and practice of citizen mobilization is quite distinct from the initial expectations. It does involve occasional organization of some collective meetings to hear citizens’ demands; nevertheless the daily work of comité members focuses on taking advantage of their privileged access to local authorities to channel individuals’ particular



demands. In fact, though some collectively defined demands come to their attention through the annual general assemblies held for the COPLADEM process, individual people generally carry the ones they deal with and bring to the authorities’ attention every day. A common example would be a neighbor who has no lighting in the street, and who would directly contact a comité member he or she knows so as to expose the particular need or problem. Gracia and Henrique, both presidents of their respective comité de colonos, explained in interviews that in this case, the demand is then treated individually, transmitted by comité members to the corresponding branch of the local government for an appropriate follow-up. The consultation process is thus informal and individual. Rather than systematically attending neighborhood meetings and collectively discussing the community members’ common priorities, Henrique explained that “they come or they reach me directly, by phone.” Ordinary citizens who are affected by a particular problem simply make personal contact with the comités’ members, hoping this will get those people to bring the problem to the attention of the local public administration. In COPACI and CODEMUNs, public deliberation is not necessarily the preferred means to discuss the neighborhoods’ priorities in the early phases of the COPLADEM process, which limits the prospects for such a mechanism to encourage organizational capacity building and empowerment of local communities. In fact, citizen committee members tend to discuss most of the local issues behind closed doors, during their monthly meetings, going to the population only to gather support and signatures validating and backing their demands. One comité president explained: As a committee, we meet once a month with the social development coordinator and then we pass the information. If there is something, I go to people’s houses and ask them “Hey, there’s this going on, so do you support me?” (Mercedes)

Besides the mandatory electoral assemblies held to elect committee members, my interviews with their leaders confirmed that the comités de colonos tend to organize public assemblies with the community only from necessity, for example when they need to distribute widely information about new governmental programs or decisions affecting the community. Most of the time, public assemblies are thus one-way (top-down) channels meant to deliver public information about neighborhood preoccupations,



not allowing the “ordinary citizen” to be included in a dialogue over these collective preoccupations. Moreover, when committee monthly meetings are open to citizens, it still follows a logic whereby representatives receive individual demands for particular services, without public and collective deliberation over the common good. As another president explained, “We meet once or twice a month with the committee members, and we organize an open assembly when some citizens come with complaints, commentaries, or to solicit a particular service” (Henrique). Likewise, the consultation phase of the COPLADEM process does not really involve deliberation among citizens from a given community over their neighborhood investment priorities for the committee to be able to then present them in a concerted way to the local authorities for further evaluation, as the process suggests in theory. In fact, according to the testimonies of most comités de colonos interviewed, the consultation phase mostly is an exercise of collecting a series of nondiscussed individual demands for urban services such as street pavement and lighting, water supplies, or parks and green areas, services that might affect the entire community or not. Commenting about the comités’ participation in the COPLADEM consultation process, Mercedes explained: “We participate. If we want, for example, water or street pavement, then we prioritize this as something to be urged for the neighborhood. We are the ones who decide what is the most urgent.” The decision on the priority order of demands to be sent to the second and third phases of the process is therefore generally not made by the population, but rather by the committee or civil servants who in the end receive the local proposals and make decisions on the basis of their own evaluation of the neighborhood’s needs instead of according to collective deliberation results. This also contributes to limit the citizens’ interest in collectively mobilizing in the process. The collective endeavor undertaken through the participatory mechanisms is therefore generally limited to expression of sporadic demands via personal connections, which limits their ability to foster the organizational capacity necessary for collective actors to be able to emerge and actively participate as such to collectively express demands, exercise their oversight function, and make the local state more accountable. Rather than fostering collective organization, the direct participation mechanism created with the Miércoles Ciudadano reinforces individualbased participation. The goal of the program is for citizens to have direct access to front-line civil servants to resolve their specific problems. Besides



the representatives of the comités de colonos, who generally come to the Miércoles on behalf or in support of their neighbors, there are very few organized groups that participate in this program, according to the director, Diana: “People generally come [to the Miércoles] on an individual basis; very few people come in groups.” In fact, most of the demands coming through the Miércoles are personal and related to direct services to the population rather than to collective goods: people come for questions regarding jobs, health, information on specific municipal social programs, etc. In addition, the comités de colonos sometimes use this other channel to access the local authorities and bring their demands, but they usually come to represent individual citizens’ demands, as a comité president explains: Every Wednesday, we come with our neighbors’ demands [ . . . ] coming from individuals who were sent to the committee because they needed the paperwork and signature to validate it. (Anita)

Therefore, this participatory mechanism is perceived either as a way to access particular services of otherwise challenging availability, or as another channel for social demands already formulated to second- and third-level public administrators via the comités to be addressed directly to the corresponding governmental areas’ directors. Even though they increased the overall rate of social participation in the city, the participatory channels preferred by León’s authorities do not contribute to the blossoming of an active and collectively organized civil society. On the contrary, a segmented model of individual-based mobilization oriented toward particularistic demands has developed over the years. Creation of the comités de colonos integrated not the already existing social actors and organizations, but rather individual citizens recognized as such by the municipal government (Valencia García 1996). The lack of deliberation and the focus on individual services create a segmentation of participation within these participatory institutions, mostly used by particularly vulnerable individuals. As emphasized by a consejero, “people who need more tend to participate more” (Jesus). This fragmentation prevents citizen participation from achieving its full transformative potential, as it does not foster development of collective organizational skills among participants, and it generates and sustains already existing apathy among nonrepresented groups of the population, who act as separate individuals rather than as a community.



“Participation Is Social”: The Prevalence of (More) Autonomous Participation Although observations on mobilization in León are very similar to Nezahualcóyotl’s, there is an important difference between the two Mexican cases: in Neza, informal practices of political control over participatory mechanisms prevailed, whereas León’s comités de colonos have been able to maintain their autonomy. Political parties and politicians are not involved in the various steps of the formation and daily functioning of León’s comités de colonos or in the work of the consejeros ciudadanos. This autonomy gives citizen participants the necessary room to maneuver vis-à-vis the local authorities in the COPLADEM discussions and in urban planning decisions. León’s case therefore shows that even if participatory mechanisms do not necessarily change mobilization patterns, they can still have a transformative influence on state-society relationships. Autonomous participation from diverse sectors of the population, even when organized in a fragmented way, does increase the capacity of citizens to become more effective democratic actors. First, electoral processes remain insulated from political parties’ direct and indirect influences and resources. The election process for the comités de colonos does not involve the competition of electoral slates, which require complex political organization, resources, and campaigning skills otherwise limited among ordinary citizens and which parties can easily provide. It is instead individuals who run solo for the open positions, and the election is held in a popular assembly called with the technical assistance of the Dirección de Desarrollo Social bureaucrats. In addition, and according to citizen participation rules, comités de colonos members and consejeros ciudadanos should not be affiliated with a political party or promote a candidate in their functions as elected representatives of their neighborhoods. Explaining how she got involved to help her fellow neighbors, one comité president affirmed that her participation “is totally independent [from political parties]. If we are members of the committee, we cannot campaign for or support any party” (Gracia). As explained by a consejero who emanates from the comités and has been elected in a sector meeting, we are totally apolitical, it is the work with the people that is important for us, the improvement of our general condition in neighborhoods where there is still a lot to accomplish . . . we can’t participate in political issues,



we need to be neutral, independent because we work with people who support a party or another, so we have to be independent. (Jesus)

From the participants’ perspectives, political parties do not “capture” the formal participatory mechanisms or their electoral process through informal means in León, giving participants the autonomy necessary for them to make their voice heard by the local government and make demands of them for any type of need, even when it goes against the political interest of the ruling party. Second, this autonomy is reinforced by the fact that the daily functioning of the comités and consejeros work in the communities and with the government is independent from political activities, and the demand-making process generally follows the rules of transparency established by a formal internal regulation. In fact, politicians are generally not involved in the regular activities of the comités and consultative tables as representatives of their parties. When they are invited to participate, they are invited as representatives of the cabildo, as members of the legislative commission in charge of planning and citizen participation in order to ask for their opinions on one of the issues being discussed or to inform them of a new program created by the municipality or other level of government. The COPLADEM process constitutes a good example of this, where there is no real participation of politicians in the consultation phase of the urban planning process, as Diego Sinhué Rodriguez, a PAN regidor, explained: In the COPLADEM process, we don’t participate, but they do give us the information [ . . . ] we have a register with more than twenty-four hundred citizen demands that have been heard by the local citizen associations and from there we find solutions to their problems.4

This understanding of the politicians’ role in the COPLADEM process was also corroborated by Maria Teresa Trejo Palomino, an opposition councilor from the PRI, who was generally more critical about the PAN participatory programs: We [the regidores] don’t participate in the consultation process. There is a permanent commission that exists, which is formed by citizens and some representatives of the administration, and we get to be involved once the consultation process is over.5

In fact, most of the grassroots work is led by the local comités de colonos themselves, as they collect the specific demands expressed by their



neighbors. Working closely with the governments’ social development agents and the consejeros ciudadanos who represent them during the later stages of the process, they then work on transmitting these demands to the permanent and other thematic commissions of the COPLADEM, which will deliberate over the prioritization of the public works to be presented to the city council as part of the municipal development plan for budgetary approval. Civil servants from the Dirección de Desarrollo Social are involved, providing technical assistance to create and activate local committees in the beginning. The rules framing the community work of public servants are, however, very clear: they should not use their functions and influence in the communities for political purposes at any time, and this becomes especially relevant in electoral periods. During the 2006 electoral campaign, the director of Desarrollo Social was clear about the apolitical role of his employees working with the comités de colonos in the communities: There was a clear instruction from Mayor Ricardo Alaniz, he said in an interview with the Diário AM de León, which is not to mix our activities (social organization and social development projects) with partisan finalities, and those who will try to do so will be reprimanded first, and could even be fired. (AM de León 2006)

Though local government officers, generally nominated by the party in office, play an important role in helping the comités organize locally and reach their population, the idea that they are professionals and not politically involved in the communities is central to their work. As explained by a consejera active in her neighborhood and her sector for more than ten years: Civil servants emanate from political parties, yes, but they don’t participate [in local meetings and assemblies] representing any party. They have to comply with the responsibilities, it could be that some may do it to aggregate votes, but it never occurred to me, I have never seen it. (Elvira)

Obviously, some participants do personally support one party or the other as citizens who vote in local elections, especially during the electoral campaigns. A comité member who was also involved in the election of the PAN explained, “As citizens, we can participate to help certain candidates but once elected, even if we supported them, we still need to go through official procedures to make demands” (Luciana). Over time, there may have been



exceptions to the rule as some administrators have been publicly accused of informally using their privileged relationship with the comités’ presidents and members for political purposes. For example, during the Ricardo Alaniz Posado administration in 2003–2006, a series of miniscandals about the possible cooption and political manipulation of comités de colonos presidents surfaced, widely denounced by PRI regidora Guadalupe Tavera Hernández, two other regidores (from the PRI and the PAN) and citizens in the local media and city council (Larios García 2005). There is, however, no clear evidence showing that the accusations made by the opposition were founded, even if the then-director’s refusal to provide the list of elected comités members brings up significant doubts (Negrete 2005). This type of irregularity is nonetheless relatively isolated in León. Moreover, when irregularities were suspected, wide public denunciation by opposition parties, the PAN, and comités de colonos members suggests that the channels of social accountability can be used to make the local government responsible for its wrongdoings. Through the diverse consultations they have with the presidente municipal, and with regidores in the COPLADEM process, consejeros (and through them the comités de colonos) have opportunities to collectively address the city’s priorities, and they do not have to rely on personal connections with powerholders or bureaucrats to do so. Moreover, as the open-to-the-public discussions of the cabildo attended have shown, politicians do rely on formulation of priorities by the population to make their decisions on funds allocation, infrastructural development, and service provision. As a result, participatory mechanisms remain generally autonomous from political parties and are therefore not subject to informal pressures to abide by the government’s position. Since cabildo sessions are always open to the general public and journalists, citizens can hold their representatives accountable for what they do through formal mechanisms. As a consejera involved for more than eight years in the comités de colonos explained, “The local institutions now give the population the opportunity to participate, and today the participation is more open than before, the channels are more open” (Eva). Obviously, political parties seek to be reelected or elected, and there is clearly some maneuvering on their part to attract support among the population. While rejecting clientelism as an electoral strategy, the PAN administration did try to maintain regular contact with citizens through participatory institutions to uphold a base of support among the population between elections (Mizrahi 2003). Candidates from



various political parties also formally visit them during the local electoral campaigns, since they have become an important social actor in León. The fact that this takes place openly and within the frame of the electoral code, however, ensures transparency. In León, “the PAN is known for its preference to establish direct citizen-to-governmental agency exchanges, as a means to circumvent neighborhood associations and unions that have been traditionally coopted by the PRI” (Porras 2007, 51). Contrary to what prevailed under the PRI, however (and tough candidates make electoral promises during their electoral campaigns), once elected, the resources of the municipality are no longer targeted to specific local leaders on the basis of electoral considerations but are generally dedicated to the entire municipality’s interests without regard to vote and political support. Involved in the process from its outset, citizens also understand better the constraints and conditions under which a decision has been made by the cabildo: if they would like all their demands to be responded to positively, they understand the financial constraints on the municipal budget. In such a big city with so many necessities and poor areas, not all demands can be fulfilled. The fact that they at least consistently received a response to their demands, positive or not, and justifications or explanations for the decisions taken by local authorities was enough to make them feel their concerns and demands were actually taken into account by the government in the decision-making process, something considered an important advance compared to the previous PRI way of governing. Hence even if it is not the result of a collective mobilization effort as such, residents who participate and formulate demands through participatory channels are under the impression that their voice is heard and understood by the local administration.

Institutional Incentives, Actors, and Inter actions Comparison of León and Nezahualcóyotl’s participatory frameworks highlights the importance of autonomy as an indicator of the transformative potential of participatory democracy. How to explain the difference between the two Mexican cases? Why have participatory innovations led to both continuity and change in defining state-society relationships in León? Institutional design in León shares several similarities with Neza and



explains the sustainability of individual mobilization patterns. It cannot explain why local authorities in León have respected the formal autonomous status of participatory institutions and their participants, which contrasts with the observations made in the other Mexican case. The main difference resides in local actors’ strategies toward participatory mechanisms, determined by distinct sets of political incentives, power structures, and perceptions about the process.

Institutional Limits to Collective Mobilization Historically, León’s social organizations were quite active, though not a mobilization space because they were most often intermediaries between individuals and the state. They had, indeed, access to privileged channels to the state granted by their clientelistic relationship to local PRI leaders. In theory, the framework of participatory democracy can have an important impact on framing new mobilization reference frameworks for citizens, and could have generated wider and inclusive mobilization to foster collective action in León. If on paper collective organization and public deliberation should be encouraged through the COPLADEM process and its related organizations and citizen representatives, the reality nonetheless shows a different story. To the contrary: the institutional design of the participatory democracy mechanisms, including individual (Miércoles) and collective (the COPLADEM process) forms of participation, did not provide the incentives for local leaders to collectively mobilize at the grass roots, instead favoring strengthening of individual mobilization strategies inherited from the past. First, as observed in Nezahualcóyotl, there are major limits for collective mobilization imposed by the participatory structure itself. On the one hand, both the comités’ daily activities and the COPLADEM process entail only a few formal collective mobilization requirements for local leaders to formulate official requests on behalf of their citizens because holding public assemblies is not a mandatory step in the claim-making process validated by the municipality authorities. On the other hand, when such requirements for collective organization exist, as in the COPLADEM process first phase, they are not formally enforced by the local government, and most comités members generally act on their own and only make sure they have the required number of signatures to back their demands before presenting



them. In many cases, the COPLADEM process is led by both the government’s public officials and the comités de colonos elected members, instead of being a massive mobilization effort. In fact, there is a consultation phase, and as explained by the comité de colonos program coordinator, “social development agents walk through the neighborhoods to organize citizen consultations through public assemblies.”6 However, she goes on to say that they [social development agents] go to the comités, discuss with the people and together they agree on the required proposals for the benefit of the neighborhood [ . . . ] and from there the demand is made through formal paperwork. (Carolina)

Moreover, because local committees have a certain latitude in deciding whether a neighborhood deserves the organization of a public meeting or not, the mobilized population represented by the comités de colonos becomes segmented. A comité president explained: “When a neighborhood lacks services such as sewage, water, pavement, there is more participation than when all services are available” (Henrique). The local government’s tendency to privilege channels such as the Miércoles Ciudadano also promotes the prevalence of individual patterns of mobilization. Not only does this model encourage individual citizens to formulate and make demands individually—a process through which they are “learning that they are entitled to expect services from elected officials” (Reding 1995), which contributes to developing a culture of citizen-beneficiaries among participants and general apathy for collective action—but it also tends to delegitimize collective action as a demand-making strategy; even committee members use these channels to complement the other available channels of participation. This might be partly explained by the administrative and result-based logic of the PAN’s participatory model, oriented toward efficiency, problem resolution, and service delivery, but also toward establishing direct and individual connections with citizens to curtail the organizational capacity of PRI-affiliated traditional organizations (Porras 2007). Second, participatory design in León lacks formal institutional incentives for public consultation and deliberation over a definition of collective needs. The comités and consejeros work in small groups, with their few elected representatives, and there is no major effort at mobilizing, consulting, and discussing with the general population. Instead, public consultation is used to legitimize decisions already taken by citizen representatives



behind closed doors, and not as a true exercise of deliberation that would mobilize citizens and generate social interactions at the neighborhood level. Consejeros work in each sector to prioritize needs, and then discuss among themselves in the various commissions where they participate, but the proposals they carry to municipal authorities do not emanate from active collective mobilization and deliberation. PRI regidora Trejo Palomino, also a member of the COPLADEM, explained: In the commission, we receive a list of public works already prioritized, but the priority is more institutional: the ones who propose the priorities come from the governmental institutions and not from the citizenry. As a consequence, you lose the real democratization process.

Most demands coming from the public assemblies are gathered only via an open process allowing individuals to formulate specific demands, but they are not discussed at the grass roots. The last observation relates to the relatively fragmented nature of community participation, especially embodied by the Miércoles Ciudadano, which encourages citizens to avoid collective mechanisms and directly address their personal issues and demands to the relevant sector of the necessary public administration. This type of mechanism tends to divide participants rather than give them incentives to mobilize collectively. There are some attempts at fostering intercommunity cooperation, as the participatory model in León tends to encourage local committees from all twentytwo sectors to have regular contact with one another: they are indeed constantly engaging in activities together, in meetings with the members of the other comités de colonos and through their elected sector representatives, the consejeros. As one consejera stressed several times, the decision-making process requires a lot of communication: I might know the problems of my colonia, but not necessarily the ones of the neighboring colonias and this necessitates constant communication between us. I am not there for only one colonia but for all those I am representing. (Eva)

The dedication of participants to improving their neighbors’ environment creates the necessary conditions to ensure follow-through on local priorities by the state and that no particular interests are privileged in the decisionmaking process because of personal access to power, which reinforces the



autonomous character of participation. Since they are discussed with everyone present at the table, interests are mediated through participatory channels and are therefore more balanced than if participation were isolated and open to informal practices. There are, however, many limits associated with the design of participatory mechanisms that sustain social fragmentation among civil society actors in León. First, though the municipal council is gathering with the comités once a month with the mayor and other first-line members of the local administrations, these meetings mostly serve to “give us the information about a particular project or event, because we are the main way for their information to reach the population,” explained Gracia. So even if the conditions for mutual retroaction and feedback between the state and society representative are present, the way it works is still a top-down process where most information comes from the local government and is transmitted by the citizen representatives to their communities, rather than going in both directions as a retroaction mechanism. Additionally, the fact that the COPLADEM process consultation proceeds at the neighborhood level with the already regularized neighborhoods having a recognized comité de colonos creates tensions and divisions among the poorest communities fighting for already scarce resources, excluding de facto the irregular and neediest neighborhoods from the urbanization process. As a consequence, this planning process remains another form of representative democracy with a small group of citizens deciding for the population rather than the elected politicians, sustaining imbalances in decision-making processes that tend to prevent development of further collective organization skills through deliberation at the grass roots. Findings in León and in Nezahualcóyotl—and the further comparison with Brazilian cases—thus indicate that, because they provide different sets of incentives, participatory institutions are not all equally contributing to encouraging collective mobilization processes. Notwithstanding this finding, differences in autonomy for participants observed across Mexican cases highlights variation in their transformative potential.

Participants’ Autonomy: Actors’ Strategies and Perceptions In León, individual mobilization is not politically controlled and mediated through clientelistic state-society relationships, but is instead channeled through autonomous mechanisms of participation. Institutional design



alone cannot, however, explain this difference, since León’s participatory mechanisms offer the same type of mobilization incentives as the ones identified in Neza. Why are participatory spaces politicized differently in both cases then? Weak Opposition, Party Cohesion, and Participatory Strategies  In León, the relatively limited political competition among parties, as well as the contained and generally democratic resolution of internal political competition, are both important factors explaining why politicians did not feel the need to activate local support networks informally and to capture formal participatory governance mechanisms for electoral mobilization through targeted resource redistribution and cooption of local participatory mechanisms’ leaders. First, in León, the situation of competition among the several parties active in the municipal political arena is quite different from what it was in Neza. Since the election of the PAN in 1988, the level of competition among political parties has dramatically decreased in León, creating incentives for local leaders to tolerate and even encourage autonomous forms of participation within state-sponsored institutions, which may in turn contribute to less social opposition to the government’s policies. Though weakly organized at the grassroots level when it reemerged in the early 1980s, the history of mobilization of the PAN has created the conditions for the party to gradually succeed in democratically attracting most of the opposition parties’ supporters over the years, the city becoming the most important bastion of the PAN in the country. Since 1988, competition has been mostly bipolar, with the only viable opposition coming from the PRI as the PDM’s renewed Sinarquísta discourse shrank as a sustainable option (Valencia García 2001). As Table 5.1 illustrates, however, the PRI’s base of support has consistently decreased over the years, suffering from its own reputation and history of corruption, undemocratic rule, and political repression (especially in León, where particularly repressive actions were taken). Without much support from the central organization and lacking resources to face the growing organizational capacity of the PAN, León’s section of the PRI went through an important internal crisis during the 1980s that weakened the party even more (Cabrero Mendoza 2006). Even with several party coalitions it succeeded in cobbling together more recently (notably with the PVEM), the PRI has not yet found its way back into the



city’s electoral arena. As for the PRD and other political parties from the Left, they still have practically no influence in the municipality, gathering more or less 2–3 percent of the popular vote in the past few electoral rounds. Rather than controlling the participatory institutions they created through informal practices as a way to secure support networks and continue the political struggle beyond the electoral scene, PAN political leaders consequently have incentives to encourage autonomous participation while benefiting from the positive sentiments expressed by participants about the process, and capitalizing on their existence and the direct role the party had in their creation through electoral discourses and rhetoric. Second, conflicts within the governing party/coalition can also be an important incentive for local politicians to control social participation through cooption strategies, as observed with Neza’s local PRD factions and their political struggles. In León, however, the governing party has generally shown a modicum of internal cohesion and unity, both between the party organization and the governing elite and between the mayor’s team and the municipal councilors. In fact, internal party conflicts are less locally based in the PAN than they are in the PRD, and especially so in León, where the party has deep roots and where conflicts are mostly oriented toward the regional and national spheres. Even if León’s PAN leaders have been divided over issues of political nominations and precandidacies for elected positions, “PANistas across the state were unified in terms of their position on national-level politics; local level differences were downplayed for the sake of more regionally defined interests” (Shirk 1999, 67). In fact, at the local organizational level, the tensions can be attenuated by more important ideological tensions funneling toward the national organization level. Moreover, the internal rules of accession to powerful positions within the PAN are generally guided by democratic principles, and most power struggles among the party factions in León have revolved around issues of political nomination, such as candidates for mayor.7 Yet because most of these conflicts are resolved through democratic means by the party, tensions are generally appeased once the party convention is over, rather than being reinforced by a more authoritarian type of conflict resolution. There are obviously exceptions to the rule, and at certain times there have been more internal conflicts within the PAN administration (Cabrero Mendoza 2006). For example, the Ricardo Alaniz Posada administration (2003–2006) displayed rising internal conflict within the local PAN



organization. As the 2006–2009 mayor, Guerrero Reynoso, highlighted in an interview, in the past administration, there have been many problems within city council, but mostly with people coming from the same party, the PAN, which had two different currents represented and thus a lot of confrontation between them.8

It is nonetheless interesting to underline the fact that this period seems to coincide with the observed retrenchment of the autonomy of citizen participatory mechanisms, which have been publicly accused, by members of the opposition and even by members of the PAN majority, of becoming agents of the mayor’s executive neocorporatist system. Though there are no valid data to actually prove alleged political use of comités de colonos in this particular case, the example does tend to confirm the relevance of the internal political competition variable to explain the political use of participatory institutions. Thus the combined effect of decreasing electoral competition to the PAN at the municipal level and of relative unity within the governing party’s ranks has created incentives for politicians to tolerate and even encourage development of autonomous forms of citizen participation within the state-sponsored participatory mechanisms as a way to show the party’s commitment to democracy and social inclusion. The political context of León differs from what we observed in Nezahualcóyotl, not only in terms of an elected governing party taking advantage of the participatory decentralization reforms but also more generally in terms of the variable competition observed in both cities employing diverse strategies toward these institutions in a context of political pluralism. Civil Society: Pluralism and Unity  Contrary to what has been observed in Nezahualcóyotl, where most social organizations and citizens involved in the CODEMUN and COPACI were formally affiliated with the PRD and often in conflict with one another, we observe in León a certain degree of pluralism and unity among civil society actors active in participatory mechanisms, fostering social inclusion and citizen autonomy in the process. Pluralism is observed through a combination of old and new actors participating in the COPLADEM process, which attracts already involved groups and citizens while opening to new actors representing the



traditionally marginalized. León is characterized by the importance of its religious community, as a sizable share of the civic activity at the grassroots level has traditionally been organized around the Catholic Church. Religious organizations and movements constitute a large share of CSOs and are a central mobilization structure in the city, where more than 98 percent of the population is self-declared Catholic. Though religious movements have usually and historically aligned politically with the PAN during election periods (Cabrero Mendoza 2006), their support for the PAN has not been formal, and their activities have remained generally isolated from the party’s, contrary to the ties observed between CSOs and the PRD in Nezahualcóyotl. As explained by Porras (2007), once in government the PAN in León is known to have developed its support networks among individuals and local entrepreneurs rather than using formal and informal affiliations with social organizations to reach the local population. So even though remaining quite insulated from partisan pressures, the Catholic Church’s movements in León have occupied a crucial position in the local organization of the city, benefiting from important political leverage with both the PAN government and society more generally. This primacy of the Catholic Church, which is a distinct characteristic of León’s social organization, has had important consequences in generating pluralism in participatory mechanisms. Since the groups that are closer to the ruling party ideology are mostly religious organizations, they have enough leverage among the population and with the party not to have to capture the various channels available at the neighborhood level. Moreover, the notion of continuity and the implication of already powerful groups relatively independent from the political forces is crucial to the development of autonomous forms of participation among the general population, as it contributes to cumulating and sharing social and organizational knowledge among participating actors. Because such groups were already in a good position with the local government, continuity could have created a renewed form of corporatism in the city and lack of pluralism among participants. In León, however, religious groups generally remained outside the political arena after the election of the PAN in 1988, and they did not benefit from differentiated or privileged access to the channels of the local state. Moreover, the structure of participation favored by the PAN leaders, creating direct ties with citizens in order to overcome the influence of PRI-affiliated CSOs, changed the



balance of power within civil society actors, disempowering the traditional groups supporting the PRI clientelistic support structure and empowering individual citizens and groups of residents previously marginalized. In fact, such a choice opened new windows of opportunity for previously marginalized segments of the population to participate, opportunities that were seized by many individuals at the community level who rallied behind the PAN participatory reforms. The public spaces opened by the local government with implementation of the participatory governance structure in León are therefore open for previously marginalized individuals, local communities, and already active social organizations to organize around their own interest, autonomously from party-affiliated social organizations. Such a plethora of actors, combined with social consensus on the necessity for participatory institutions, creates the conditions for the previously unequal balance of power to change and for autonomous participation schemes to emerge through the process, even if organized at the individual level. The Meaning of Participation: Politically Fundamental and Socially Embedded  In Neza, participation perceptions were opposed: seen as a not-so-serious formal obligation from the political actors’ part, it was conceived as a responsibility and a governmental function by participants. This is not found in León, where there is a much greater confluence between politicians, bureaucrats’, and citizens’ understanding of participation and of their respective roles in the process. This is important, because this coconstructed perception influences how participants from both society and the municipal government engage with one another and take part in the governance process. On the one hand, politicians’ views of the process are crucial in such state-sponsored participatory mechanisms, as it influences how they engage within discussion processes with citizens, the material and symbolic resources they inject in the participatory mechanisms, and the way they respond to demands coming from these state-sponsored institutions. As mayor Vicente Guerrero Reynoso emphasized, talking about the importance of participation for his municipal administration, I see social participation as something important, something fundamental that we should continue to stimulate to avoid authoritarianism. To look for power equilibrium and the deepening of democracy, we need the population to decide. We are the server of the population and we have to do



what they tell us to do through an ordered, informed and well conducted process.

Raúl Márquez Albo, the director of Desarrollo Social from 2000 to 2006, also explained in an interview with a journalist from the local newspaper Diário AM de León that for the local government the comités de colonos constitute its principal link with citizens, as well as the local organizations through which residents of a given collectivity identify collective problems, organize to find solutions, and thereby act to change the face of their neighborhood: We will accomplish this [change] through this citizen participation dynamics, where they tell what they need rather than having us decide what type of public works we want to realize. (Cited in Rangel 2003)

Moreover, politicians of all political stripes in León—including regidores Trejo Palomino (PRI) and Sinhué Rodriguez (PAN)—generally agree on the idea that the work done in the local participatory mechanisms should be taken into account, and that the role of the municipal administration is not to intervene in the local organization and deliberation processes but instead to continue to create the institutional conditions allowing greater and deeper social involvement in policy-making processes as a way to support state’s action. As a consequence of such a positive perception of the work done (and possibly done) through formal participatory mechanisms, the municipal administration of León invests in fostering empowerment of its participants, providing resources for capacity-building workshops and activities at the local level to help participants develop skills for strengthening their autonomy and their ability to collectively enter into relation with the local state. According to the mayor, “to work, social participation requires many adjectives: informed, educated, engaged, integrated. It is therefore a long and difficult process,” for which the local government needs to invest resources, time, and energy. Such an investment from the local government contributes to generate a feeling of inclusion among participants, who generally have the impression that their work and demands are taken into consideration in decision making, an impression that strengthens the incentives to autonomously engage in the process. Contrary to the case of Nezahualcóyotl, where participants mostly saw themselves as working for the government, León’s participants see themselves as working with the government to find policy solutions to urban



development and planning problems affecting their fellow citizens’ daily lives. More specifically, the participants we interviewed generally perceived themselves as responsive to their neighbors, as well as beneficiaries of the government entitled to ask for urban services and to represent their neighborhood to receive the attention they consider it deserves. Said one interviewee: Many times we have to be mediators, with a lot of calculations to avoid social conflicts, we need to keep a good control and equilibrium between society and the government, we are the link between society and the government. (Henrique)

Like most of her colleagues, this consejera ciudadana understood her role as being mostly oriented toward her work as the citizen representative of her community members’ interests and needs: I am the representative of all the comités de colonos of my sector who chose me and believed in me, I support my sector, this is where I have my engagement [ . . . ] It’s a lot of social work, to look after the population and see what you can do to give them a hand and represent them in front of the authorities. We are the communication link between all of them. (Elvira)

Though most participants interviewed were conscious of their importance as the municipal administration’s main means of information dissemination within local communities, they all expressed their loyalty to their community and neighborhood. Citizens’ demands are not always welcomed by the administration, and as their representatives the administration feels the need to be insistent with local authorities. Explaining how she never abandoned her demands even in the face of refusals, one consejera said: “I was disappointed and I told them directly. As I feel it, I tell it and up to now it has probably disturbed certain people, but I say what I think. I am the voice. I am the voice and the ears of my people” (Eva). This overall detachment of participants from local government activities, despite the constant involvement of civil servants in fostering community engagement, demonstrates an understanding of local participation mechanisms as an institutional channel recognized by the local state to formulate demands on behalf of their neighbors, regardless of the potential discontentment of political parties in power. These perceptions, mutually reinforcing, and the corresponding behaviors of both social and political actors have had an important consequence for the engagement of the municipal state toward giving empowerment resources to participants, an important asset in sustaining the autonomous



character of participation. Moreover, because they consider themselves as equal partners of the state in representing their neighbors in the urban planning process, participants do not feel bound by the local government’s positions or the party’s commitments, so they can oppose decisions that are against what they deem to be the interest of their community. Though they often lack the organizational capacity to really do so systematically and efficiently, the autonomy they enjoy opens the door for citizens to impose sanctions on the local government’s wrongdoings if necessary. To conclude, findings about the León case and comparison with Nezahualcóyotl confirm the hypothesis by which the (un)changing nature of state-society relationships in participatory mechanisms is related not only to their institutional design but more important to sociopolitical conditions that can contribute to developing autonomous forms of citizen participation at the local level. In León, even though mobilization patterns remained mostly oriented toward individually formulated particularistic demands, there is an important flow of demands coming from the bottom up, formulated autonomously from traditional and politically driven actors and channeled through the formal participatory mechanisms made available to a plurality of actors by the local government. The local government’s strategy in a context of political stability has been to encourage autonomous participation in participatory mechanisms in order to democratically gather popular support, which sustains the observed plurality of actors involved in the participatory process and contributes to promoting positive perceptions of both the state and society’s role toward one another, as equal partners of an inclusive urban planning project for the city.

Conclusion This chapter shows that participatory democracy reform has had a transformative effect on state-society relationships in León. Citizens mobilize and formulate demands individually, but autonomously. Participatory reforms have contributed to the professionalization of the local bureaucracy through processes such as computerization of citizen demands (Miércoles Ciudadano), systematization of response rates, transparency and availability of data, etc. Clientelism is, therefore, no longer the main way for citizens to relate to the state. Yet a model of fragmented inclusion has emerged in participatory



mechanisms, yielding limits for the deepening of democracy. Social inclusion is accomplished through a fragmented citizen-beneficiary logic where the collective organization and, in turn, the democratization goal are superseded by the efficiency and solution-oriented logic that marked the creation of León’s participatory governance model. Talking about the achievements of the current model of citizen participation, a consejera highlighted the need for sustained collective mobilization and social learning: Participatory institutions have worked as to bring citizens closer to the local government and they need to continue working and growing [ . . . ] Now, our society needs to learn how to get together and participate with the government. (Elvira)

As this quote suggests, the model might be more efficient and less exclusionary than it had previously been in terms of policy delivery and urban development, though the type of social inclusion it allows is still quite segmented and disorganized. This tends to limit the potential for participating citizens to develop the mobilization skills necessary to demand collectively for these citizenship rights on behalf of their community and to make the local government systematically accountable for responding to these demands. Despite such limits, León can still be qualified as a case of success in the Mexican context. The comparison with Neza highlights that the mediation of similarly individual preoccupations expressed by citizens on a personal basis through formal participatory mechanisms has been organized differently in the two cities. Whereas the formal rules of participatory mechanisms tend to prevail in León, informal practices of political control and cooption dominate in Nezahualcóyotl. In the context of autonomous participation, however, the consequences of individual mobilization are less important than in contexts where participatory institutions are controlled by political actors as in Nezahualcóyotl, where clientelism not only survived institutional innovation but was even reinforced through it. In fact, as the comparison of Nezahualcóyotl’s and León’s experiences with participatory decentralization demonstrates, degree of autonomy is a central element determining the potential for participatory institutions to sustain greater social inclusion and accessibility to the rights of citizenship, a conclusion that the comparisons, in the next two chapters, with Brazilian cases of participatory budgeting will confirm even more forcefully.


Recife From Clientelism to Disempowering Cooption Despite some exceptions, most PB delegates believe in the project. The majority of them are people who were pushed by the PT, but this is not something that is talked about in the forums, because it is an official instance and so you can’t be talking about parties per se, but most of it is the work done by the PT at the grass roots. — edm u ndo, pb pa rt icipa n t delegate, r ecife


Recife is a colonial city located on the coast of Pernambuco. During the last century, the state capital has developed into a major industrial city of more than 1.6 million inhabitants, welcoming massive inflows of new residents coming from inland in search of employment and better living conditions. From 1947 to 1983, the city saw a succession of populist and military local governments, in tune with Brazil’s history, and was characterized by a tradition of relatively strong social mobilization via neighborhood associations—though fragmented and organized along clientelistic lines. In the context of the country’s democratization process, the pro-liberal branch of the military government led by Gustavo Krause—from the Partido da Frente Liberal (PFL)—organized the first open election for mayor in 1983. Since then, PMDB (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro), PFL (later Partido Democráta, or DEM), and PT coalitions have been elected and have governed in Recife, experimenting with various participatory mechanisms. Did the electoral opening and today’s pluralism characterizing Recife contribute to democratizing the municipal governance process? More



precisely, did the respective institutional innovations implemented under the governments of Jarbas Vasconselos’ PMDB, Roberto Magalhães’ PFL, and João Paulo Lima e Silva’s PT contribute to the rise of collectively organized and autonomous forms of civil society participation in governance processes? Recife is a particularly interesting case as it is one of the few experiments where PB survived changes in governing parties and coalitions, but in two very different institutional formats, referred to as Recife-PFL/ PMDB (PPB/PB) and Recife-PT (PB) throughout this study. Although it mostly focuses on the PT participatory budgeting program,1 the comparative approach taken in the chapter highlights the distinctions and parallels to be made between these two versions of apparently similar programs, and most importantly, it underscores their differentiated consequences on statesociety relationships. This chapter thus shows how and why, in Recife, participatory mechanisms were first used as a way to nurture and strengthen clientelism (1993–2000), and then became a politicized space where collective action was encouraged, but where social leaders and participants were coopted by the main political forces through a participatory mechanism (2001–2008). Though the institutional changes to the structure of PB brought by the PT have contributed to transform mobilization process to make it more collective, they had only a limited effect on transforming state-society relationships in the city, leading to development of disempowering cooption. The in-case comparison not only adds depth to our understanding of Recife’s case but also stresses the importance of both context and institutions to explain the complex and plural nature of state-society relationships in municipal participatory institutions.

The For m ation of the Cit y: From R epr ession and Clientelism t o P o l i t i c a l P l u r a l i s m (19 47 –19 83) An industrial capital of the Northeastern region of Brazil, Recife grew at an impressive rate between 1920 and 1940: a population increase of 46 percent that was the result of both economic growth and a massive rural exodus. Recife’s infrastructures and market were, however, unable to absorb the inflows of newcomers (do Céu Cézar 1985; Sínger 1977), creating a great number of unemployed, often unable to acquire regular land. One of the main challenges faced by local political elites soon became the growing



proportion of the population living in the so-called favelas located in relatively hazardous terrains of the city, such as unsecured hills cliffs or ocean shores subject to erosion and floods. The local government priority was, however, modernization: eradication of the mocambos,2 modernization of the city center, and industrialization of the economy (Rezende 2002).

The Bumpy Road toward Associationalism Prior to 1947, only few and generally disorganized groups of residents coming from underprivileged areas of the city collectively mobilized to demand access to basic urban services and urban inclusion. Favelas residents’ social and urban challenges indeed found little resonance with politicians. The last years of the Vargas era were, however, marked by growing popular discontent, and the emergence of a tradition of neighborhood associationalism in the city. Unheard popular concerns about the unequal and privilegebased allocation of urban services made their way into the growing leftist opposition movements’ discourses and demands (Duarte 2009, 111). For example, the creation of the Comités Democráticos e Populares de Bairros (CDPs, Popular and Democratic Neighborhood Committees) in 1947 was the result of an initiative led by the Partido Comunista do Brasil (PCdoB, Communist Party of Brazil). It is, however, only after the election of Mayor Pelópidas Silveira from the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party) in 1955 that Recife’s neighborhood association movement truly arose in a less atomized form (do Céu Cézar 1985). Silveira, who had built a coalition of all major leftist parties and urban social movements, the Frente do Recife (Front for Recife), then led a campaign centered on the notion of popular participation and urged creation of neighborhood associations that could, with them, “work as vectors of pressure” on the Chamber (do Céu Cézar 1985, 163). Qualified by many as being political instruments in a populist alliance (da Silva 2003, 306), the network of neighborhood associations was created by the Frente to solidify its own position (Assies 1991), was rewarded through clientelistic exchanges, and had no political autonomy from the local government (do Céu Cézar 1985). The 1964 military coup, however, completely changed local political dynamics in Recife. Democratic elections and existing political parties were banned and replaced by officials from the pro-military political forces. Associated with the “communist plot” and the banned leftist parties, neighborhood



associations were disbanded; their leaders were persecuted or imprisoned, and their members ended their affiliation with the movement, fearing violent repression and reprimands from the local government (Assies 1991). The first years of the military regime in Recife were thus marked by repression and a significant decrease in politically driven associational activity. Nonetheless, in Recife, urban movements did not entirely disappear. As electoral politics gradually came back in the mid-1970s, urban movements reemerged with claims and clientelistic politics became a widespread strategy used by the military to prevent social contention and coopt social leaders (Mainwaring 1987), and used also by growing opposition parties. Describing this period prior to the transition to democracy, a PB participant and delegate explained, “before, only the public works of those who were friends with the king were undertaken. One helped the king’s friends. And so those who were not close to him had nothing” (Eduardo). On the one hand, with the creation of the Núcleos de Planejamento Comunitário (NPC, Community Planning Units), also called barrações, the pro-military used existing social organizations to bolster its own legitimacy and deactivate agents of social contention. In exchange for their inclusion in the governance process, these “citizen-based” units located in every community supported the local government and allowed local officials to control possible popular protests, demonstrations, or marches (da Silva 1988). On the other hand, facing repression in the aftermath of the 1964 coup, some neighborhood groups survived by reinventing themselves as self-help groups, the Comunidades Ecclesiásticas de Base (CEB, Basic Ecclesiastic Communities). As small groups under the auspices of the local Catholic Church (Bidegain Greising 1993), they were tolerated by the military because they were related to survival issues more than to political ones. After 1979, several neighborhood groups moved closer to the emerging political alternatives, notably the PSB and the PFL. Unlike the trend in several Brazilian municipalities, where neighborhood groups were associated with the emerging PT, in Recife they developed privileged relationships with local political leaders from the increasingly diverse and fragmented emerging political parties (Assies 1991). Although social movements started reactivating during the 1970s, state-society relations remained mostly based on the clientelistic redistribution of resources among privileged actors, to which neighborhood groups were the key.



Opening the Public Sphere: Political Pluralism and the Rise of Participatory Politics Brazil democratic transition in the early 1980s set the stage for the awakening of opposition political parties and redemocratization of electoral and governance processes at the municipal level. In Recife, the presence of active leftist political forces organized through, among other things, the Church and the various social movements affiliated with opposition parties (most of them associated with pre-coup leftist political figures) facilitated pluralization of the local electoral arena. In 1985, direct election for mayor was reintroduced at the municipal level, and Jarbas Vasconcelos, who had defected from the PMDB, became the first elected mayor of Recife, leading a coalition of leftist parties under the umbrella of the PSB. As Table 6.1 shows, since 1985 political preferences have been polarized in Recife, distributed between coalitions from the left and right ends of the ideological spectrum, dividing the PMDB (center-left) and the PFL (centerright, later DEM) until 1994, and more recently including the PT as the new leftist party representing the popular sectors. There have been numerous local governments in Recife; however, popular participation is a core element of their various programs, from the left and from the right. How has this shared concern for participation grown in parallel to the rise of political pluralism and alternation in Recife? It is with the Programa de Regularização das Zonas Especiais de Interesse Social (PREZEIS, Program for the Regularization of the Special Zones of Social Interest), adopted by Jarbas Vasconcelos from the PMDB in 1987, that the idea of popular participation for the urbanization of the favelas (also called ZEIS) emerged in Recife. Institutionalized channels for urban planning, the PREZEIS were a local co-governance mechanism through which both the mayor and the recognized community-based entities have the authority to participate in the local urbanization plan and to collectively organize regularization of the still nonrecognized favelas as ZEIS (Câmara municipal do Recife 1987, art. 7). The PREZEIS has been an important precursor for social participation at the community level in Recife, breaking with the authoritarian tradition of social exclusion and repression. Lack of commitment to the program on the part of local authorities, however, has greatly diminished the scope and credibility of PREZEIS and the ability of NGOs to overcome clientelism and the influence of local political brokers. The latter indeed retained the biggest share of local investment power and used it in a discretionary

table 6.1  Results for Municipal Elections by Political Party or Electoral Coalition, Recife, 1985–2011 Mandates

Political Parties & Coalitions / Elected Mayors

% Vote


ARENA (Gustavo Krause, appointed)



PSB (Jarbas Vasconcelos)



PFL (Joaquim Francisco, elected)






PMDB (Jarbas Vasconcelos, elected)






PFL / União pelo Recife (Roberto Magalhães, elected)


PMDB / Avança Recife


PT / Recifeliz







PFL / União pelo Recife


PT / Frente de Esquerda do Recife (João Paulo Lima e Silva, elected 2nd round)


PPS / Frente de Oposição Recife Melhor


PT / Frente de Esquerda do Recife (João Paulo Lima e Silva, reelected)


PMDB / União pela Mudança


PTB / Oposições do Recife


PT / Frente do Recife (João da Costa, elected)




PMDB / Coligação por um Novo Recife


note: Electoral results are based upon the results obtained by the main coalitions after the first round. In most cases, the first-round winner was elected during the second round, except in the 2000 election, where Magalhães won the first round and then lost the second round by a small margin to João Paulo, candidate of the PT-led electoral coalition. source: Compiled by the author with electoral data from the Tribunal Regional Eleitoral de Pernambuco (TRE-PE), [page consulted on 07/05/09].



and exclusionary manner, thereby hindering development of organized and autonomous participation in the favelas. As a consequence, efforts at urbanizing and regularizing the favelas through granting ZEIS status and electing a local COMUL remain limited. Of the 516 favelas that Recife counted in 1993, only 66 had their ZEIS status granted in 2002, and only 33 of them had an active COMUL installed in the community (Barbosa da Silva and Silva 2003, 9). Because of the long and complex process of ZEIS status granting, most favelas and marginalized communities remained excluded as they had no access to citizenship rights in Recife, lacking basic civil and social rights as well as the political rights to formulate demands and access state institutions. As of today, PREZEIS is the only legal participatory channel in the city because it is the only one recognized and institutionalized as such by a municipal law (see, among others, Marinho 1998; Wampler 1999; Maia 1996). If it has lost its importance as a participatory mechanism over time, PREZEIS has certainly gradually paved the way for the current models of participatory budgeting. Over the past two decades, the PREZEIS have indeed been gradually complemented by more “universalistic” participatory mechanisms, which soon became the municipal administrations’ preferred channels for direct citizen participation.

T wo Governments, T wo Models of Pa r t i c i pa t o r y B u d g e t i n g (19 9 4 – 2 0 0 8) Following the provisions of the 1988 Brazilian constitution, the municipality of Recife is organized along the principles of the Lei Orgânica do Município do Recife (Municipal Organic Law), which defines its general governance principles and institutions along with the election of its governing bodies. Since a reformulation in 1990, Recife’s Lei Orgânica stipulates that “the municipality will create instruments of popular participation in decisions, management and control of public administration” (Câmara municipal do Recife 2007 [1990], art. 9.5). It is in this context, and inspired by the successful model of Porto Alegre, that participatory budgeting has developed in the city, as part of an effort from Vasconcelos’ second administration to institutionalize citizen participation and inclusion in decision-making venues and processes. A particularity of Recife’s participatory budgeting model is that, though it has changed according to every ruling party or coalition’s intentions and ways of defining it, the model has survived political alternation in power. Since 1993, two main



models of participatory budgeting have been implemented in Recife: the Programa Prefeitura nos Bairros/Orçamento Participativo (PPB/PB, Program City Hall in the Neighborhoods/Participatory Budgeting) under the center-right governments of the PMDB and of the PFL (1993–2000), and the PB program designed and implemented by the PT-led leftist coalition (2001–2008).

Prefeitura nos Bairros: The PMDB/PFL Model of Participatory Budgeting (Recife PMDB/PFL: 1993–2000) Elected in 1985 with the support of social sectors, Jarbas Vasconcelos made a promise to open political space to greater participation from civil society leaders with implementation of the Programa Prefeitura nos Bairros, aimed at creating a direct link between community leaders and the municipal government. It was, however, during his second mandate, from 1993 to 1996, that the program was transformed into what is called the PPB/PB program, which created the citizens delegates, consolidated the participation of community leaders, and extended participation to the larger population. Roberto Magalhães (PFL), who headed the PFL/PMDB coalition from 1997 to 2000, was elected on the commitment to pursue the participatory programs designed by the PMDB administration, and especially to consolidate them as PB institutions. The program’s initial methodology thus clearly stated that the goal of the PPB/PB was to “advance broad and global priorities in order to escape clientelistic ties that characterize the participation of community organizations” (Prefeitura do Recife 1995, 15). In the Plano Plurianual 1998–2001 (PPA, Plurianual Plan) defining the local government’s orientations, Magalhães reiterated that his government would be looking for actions following three main principles: “the consolidation of democracy, the rescue and extension of citizenship, and the strengthening of local economic competitiveness” (Prefeitura do Recife 1998, 5), including the idea of participatory mechanisms. Although the original PPB program established direct links between local community leaders and the government, the PPB/PB added a new dimension to the participatory architecture, bringing ordinary citizens to participate in policy formulation and implementation as delegates. The city was divided into six politico-administrative regions (RPA), each then subdivided into three microregions, generally comprising forty thousand to sixty thousand residents. As a city-planning process, the PPB/PB program was organized to be yearlong, with ordinary citizens and organized society groups



invited to participate in electing their respective delegates, who would in turn be responsible for discussing policy priorities and formulating investment proposals to be submitted to the executive in the delegates’ forums organized by the municipal government. Though the stated objective of PPB/PB was to go beyond the particularistic relationship between community leaders and the local government, the composition and organization of PPB/PB institutions reflected their privileged position—based on party loyalty—within the administration’s bases of support. In fact, the PPB/PB process contributed to offering a privileged position to neighborhood associations and local leaders through designation of de facto delegates and then included the idea of elected delegates (Melo, Rezende, and Lubambo 2001). In the first years of the program, 320 delegates were elected, half of them being designated by the accredited NGOs and registered neighborhood associations and the other half directly elected by citizens (see Table 6.2). As Wampler observes, this format not only gave legitimacy to community leaders but limited the number of “legitimate” leaders who could access the administration, allowing the administration to “filter the demands of the non-elected leaders” and to “exclude ordinary citizens from any role in the process” (Wampler 1999, 355). In 1997, Magalhães changed this proportion, raising the number of PB delegates to 470, among which the population directly elected 273 (who mostly came from neighborhood organizations) and 197 were community leaders designated by the NGOs and neighborhood associations. It is in the City Forum (replaced by the Participatory Budgeting General Forum in 1997) that, twice a year, policy priorities were discussed and debated among the delegates, NGO activists, and members of the administration, in meetings taking place after their election by the general population and where delegates decided and discussed matters without consulting their communities. A number of diagnoses have been proposed to qualify the Vasconcelos and Magalhães administrations’ PPB/PB experiences in Recife. Some studies qualified this experiment as an institutional innovation opening spaces for increased citizen participation, better social inclusion of the poorest sectors of the population, and empowerment of community leaders (Wampler 1999). But most of them remained skeptical about the actual policy results of such a limited participatory program, highly dependent on political will and limited by the few budget resources allocated to public deliberation (Melo et al. 2001; Wampler 2007; Barbosa da Silva and Chaves Teixeira 2007; da Silva 2003). Moreover, and this will be explored further, this program was closely tied to historical links between associations and the PSB, which limited the development of



table 6.2  Number of Participants in PB Regional Forums and of Elected Delegates, Recife, 1998–2008 PB Cycle

Number of Participants*

Number of Elected Delegates



320 (160 elected / 160 CSOs)



320 (160 elected / 160 CSOs)



470 (273 elected / 197 CSOs)

























source: Compilation by the author with data from Melo et al. (2001), da Silva (2003), and internal documents of the Coordenadoria de Orçamento Participativo e Participação Popular, Prefeitura do Recife: [page consulted on 21/05/09]. note: The number of participants has been calculated on the basis of the number of participants to the popular plenaries (between 1995–2000) and to the regional plenaries (between 2001–2008).

organized and autonomous participation. After its election in 2000, the PT therefore reformed the program, which drew institutionally closer to other PT’s experiences with participatory budgeting across the country.

The PT’s Model of Participatory Budgeting (Recife-PT: 2001–2008) During the 2000 municipal electoral campaign, the PT candidate, João Paulo Lima e Silva, expressed deep concern for strengthening “ordinary” citizen participation and for the need to deepen and transform the existing PB institutions, criticized for empowering only PFL-friendly community leaders and for being generally dismissed by the incumbent PFL mayor in decision making. Inspired by other PT experiences with PB across Brazil, Lima e Silva proposed to rethink the PB institutions and make them the main



channel of citizen participation, as a pillar of the “radically democratic” governance model proposed by the Recife section of the PT to be “sustained by an extensive popular mobilization” within the communities (Prefeitura do Recife 2005, 33). As he explained in an interview, João Paulo Lima e Silva visited many PT cities such as Porto Alegre during the years preceding his candidacy in Recife to learn from their experiences and find ways to propose an improved model of participatory budgeting adapted to the city of Recife.3 Then, in order to gather support for his proposal, Lima e Silva brought together a group of community leaders and NGO activists who, disappointed by the results of the Magalhães PB program, participated with the PT and the local administration in the discussions leading to reformulation of the program. The “New PB” of Recife was announced in 2001, and soon became the administration’s flagship program. As explained by João da Costa, responsible for implementation and conduct of the PB process in Recife between 2001 and 2008, in an address (cited in Barbosa da Silva and Silva 2003) to the residents of RPA 6, PB aims, through a dialogue between the municipal government and the population, to construct new spaces of democracy [ . . . ]. It is a commitment to rescue, requalify and strengthen democracy with another quality and another pattern of relationship [previously clientelistic and often corrupted] that goes beyond the elections.

The PT version of the PB program constituted a change in focus for participatory planning in two ways. First, PB became the main institutional tool for popular participation in governance processes, superseding the already existing mechanisms such as the PREZEIS and changing the structure and functioning of the previous PPB/PB program. As highlighted by Barbosa da Silva (2003), under Mayor João Paulo Lima e Silva PB gained primacy over the other participatory mechanisms in the municipal governance process, as revealed by the creation of the Secretariat for Participatory Budgeting and Citizen Management in 2000, later replaced by the Secretariat of Participatory Planning. Second, contrary to the previous PPB/PB and PREZEIS programs, the PT proposal included concern for mass mobilization. Rather than focusing on community leaders’ participation, PB focused on the general population’s mobilization capacity to feed deliberations over the municipal budget.



figure 6.1  Participatory Budgeting Annual Cycle, Recife, 2001–2008 source: Adapted from Recife’s PB coordination promotional publication Orçamento Participativo do Recife, Obras que ficam para sempre (2008, 7), also available at http://www.recife. (accessed May 30, 2009).

The PB cycle (see Figure 6.1) established by the PT is organized over a year, where popular and delegates’ meetings occur at the microregional, regional, and city levels to discuss local investment priorities and, more generally, urban planning issues. The first phase of the meeting is the local organization process. From January to March, local meetings are organized by the incumbent members of the microregional forums and the PB coordination to inform citizens about the PB methodology for the current budgeting process, a period during which local communities and groups organize their support bases and start formulating the demands they will register to be discussed in regional and thematic plenaries. A quorum of ten residents is needed for a proposal to be presented, registered, and eventually voted in the plenary. Candidates for delegates also start gathering support



during this period, often closely related to a particular project submitted to the PB process. It is in the regional and thematic plenaries that the list of public works to be submitted to the executive for budgeting approval is discussed, deliberated, and then voted. Each participant votes for two priorities, and the thirty proposals with the most votes per region are conveyed to the municipal administration for further evaluation and budget approval. During these meetings, delegates are also elected, proportionally to the number of participants registered (one delegate per ten participants). These elected delegates form the microregional PB deliberative forums and elect among themselves two PB coordinators in charge of the local organizational questions, who are also members of the Conselho do Orçamento Participativo (COP, Participatory Budgeting Council). The deliberative forums meet every two weeks, discussing local project implementation and informing their community on project advances and the status of the priorities adopted in the plenaries. The COP, which is formed by delegates nominated by their microregional and thematic forums as well as social sector representatives from the conselhos gestores,4 is the city-level participatory organization in charge of formulating the budgetary proposal to be sent to the chamber of municipal councilors for approval. They therefore ensure that the priorities voted in regional plenaries and evaluated as viable are included in the annual budget and urban investment plans presented to the Chamber and finally approved by the mayor.

R enewed Mobiliz ation Str ategies, Sa me Pr actices: From Clientelism to Disempower ing Cooption Despite party and coalition alternation and varying degrees of mayoral support, an important framework for citizen participation has been implemented and institutionalized in Recife. New opportunities for local participation have been created, dramatically increasing the rate of citizen participation. Most studies of Recife’s participatory democracy reforms focused only on the PPB/PB program, remaining skeptical about the prospects for such an initiative to contribute to social inclusion and further democratization. Owing to its more recent implementation, fewer studies



have looked at the PT experiment, which introduced several changes to the previous model. Nonetheless, the few comparative assessments of the programs place much more hope in the prospects for the PT initiative to lead to better democratization outcomes, assuming that the institutional changes brought on by the PT will most likely contribute to greater citizen participation and diversity (Barbosa da Silva 2003; da Silva 2003). An accurate analysis of the latest PB experience compared to the previous one, however, has not yet been undertaken beyond the institutional dimensions of the program. If the comparison of Recife-PPB/PB and Recife-PB reveals differences in type of mobilization, it also reveals continuity beyond party and institutional change. Informal practices of political control continue to prevail under the PT. From a case of renewed clientelism under the PPB-PB period, Recife became a case of disempowering cooption during the second phase of participatory reforms, then led by the PT.

Two Experiences, Two Logics of Mobilization: From Individual to Collective Mobilization Among the objectives behind the creation of the PPB/PB program by Vasconcelos were achieving better popular inclusion and empowering traditionally excluded sectors, giving them opportunities and incentives to organize and collectively formulate demands. The reality was, however, quite different: collective mobilization remained quite marginal in participatory institutions. On the contrary, the PPB/PB encouraged an individual-based logic of social mobilization that was highly contingent on the intermediation of local community leaders, who were the ones involved in the decision-making and deliberation processes with local authorities. First, the participation of ordinary citizens was limited to election of half of their delegates, who are then responsible for conveying citizens’ concerns about budget issues at the City Forum (da Silva 2003). As explained by a PB delegate who has been involved in her community since the beginning of the program: It was a model that elected community leaders. The population in general only went for the election. They were not giving their opinion, those who were choosing the public works to be done were the proper leaders, it was not participatory. It was like this: you were mobilizing to elect a leader, a delegate, but the ones who were giving their opinions in terms of choices were the delegates only, and not the population. (Silvia)



PPB/PB empowered community leaders, both as representatives for the population and as privileged intermediaries in the relationship with the local government. Elected in popular assemblies, community leaders and neighborhood association members were not particularly inclined to organize local communities beyond their election, limiting the ability of citizens to participate actively in building collective mobilization skills (Souto-Maior Fontes 1996). PPB/PB institutions thus reproduced the idea of “representative delegation,” and participation of elected delegates and CSO delegates did not foster greater mobilization around defining collective demands. Discussions on the actual policy priorities took place exclusively in City Forum meetings held after the election of the delegates, without any feedback mechanism that would bring citizens’ concerns back into the deliberative process or that would allow them to make their delegates accountable (Melo et al. 2001; Barbosa da Silva and Chaves Teixeira 2007). As a consequence, decisions about policy priorities were made behind closed doors, on the basis of the delegates’ discussions with local administration experts, without popular consultation on the projects to be discussed. Second, PPB/PB institutions, though contributing to diminishing the centrality of personal connections with municipal councilors in demandmaking processes, did not change the nature of citizens’ patterns of mobilization, still based on particularistic needs and concerns directly addressed to the perceived influential political actor. In fact, the population generally saw community leaders as the new legitimate “political actors” (Wampler 1999), and because citizens were not involved directly in the policy-making process, community leaders and delegates partly replaced municipal councilors and became the intermediary actor to whom personal demands should be individually formulated. Thus PPB/PB institutions did legitimize the participation of a restricted group of citizens and NGO representatives, keeping control over ordinary citizens’ access to municipal authorities and in turn limiting the institutional incentives for collective mobilization to take place around policy-making processes. Therefore, PPB/PB institutions have reinforced the existing individual-based and demand-oriented mobilization trends organized around registered but not-so-participatory neighborhood associations and their leaders, officially recognizing and institutionalizing their central position in defining the common good. In 2001, João Paulo Lima e Silva and his team introduced important changes to the PB program, partly meant to make collective action the backbone of



participatory governance. Moving away from a focus on community leaders, a mass-mobilization orientation was given to PB. In fact, the changes introduced were also meant to circumvent the organizations involved in PPB/PB that developed and benefited from a close relationship with right-wing opposition parties. As Table 6.2 shows (see page 145), the citizen participation rate in local deliberative assemblies saw a dramatic increase after 2001 and has generally remained the same since then, oscillating between approximately 35,000 and 45,000 participants every year.5 PB-PT not only increased participation but also encouraged collective forms of social organization at the grass roots, and brought ordinary citizens together to formulate demands and define policy priorities. If the participation rate is an important indicator of PB’s capacity to reach out to larger sectors of the population, its qualitative aspect is also central to assessing the repercussions of such participation on local communities. In that sense, a diversification and a “collectivization” of mobilization within PB institutions have been observed. Not only was the geopolitical configuration of participation reconfigured beyond community leaders through this instrument [PB], but new community-based organizations started to participate in PB meetings, organizing citizens around collective and more diverse demands (Barbosa da Silva 2003). Many community leaders adapted to the new institutional format of PB, but other types of social organizations (such as mothers’ clubs) and spontaneous groups of citizens also started to organize and mobilize for projects to be discussed and voted on in PB assemblies. According to municipal data, between 2001 and 2003, about 45 percent of participants were members of community organizations, 48 percent of participants came from of other types of organizations, and only 7 percent were not affiliated to an organization (Barbosa da Silva and Chaves Teixeira 2007, 180). The city thus saw “the emergence of new groups of people who unite to defend specific issues or demands of their communities and who represent a new way of organizing and a new sphere of representation outside the traditional models” (da Silva 2003, 323). This mobilization was also pluralistic, as its articulation by collective actors within the PB process was not limited to neighborhood associations. As observed by an ex-PB delegate, “they are part of it, but the churches also play this role [of articulating mobilization], and you also have association and councils who play this role. And the elected delegates in a given area also do this articulation work” (Eduardo).



Group leaders, though more pluralistic and diversified, do retain a highly influential position within the PB-PT model; they are the main activators of collective mobilization processes in local communities, in order to push their demands through the PB process in plenaries. As explained by this same delegate, after the community meeting phases where all public works are submitted, the local groups activate their local members in support of a given proposal: In general, the mothers’ club brings together some residents and says “this year, we are voting for such-and-such proposal.” The neighborhood association reunites another group of residents and says “we are not voting for such-and-such proposal.” Therefore, they indicate which public works proposal will be part of their priorities. (Eduardo)

For their proposals to be placed at the top of the voted priority list and their delegates to be elected—and to be able to defend such priorities in regional meetings—group leaders need to mobilize and get support among the general population, which fosters a change in collective mobilization and gives it a longer-term and more policy-oriented focus. Therefore, the process of registering, deliberating, and voting on policy priorities and delegates in microregional, regional, and thematic plenary assemblies not only allows ordinary citizens to actually participate in the process but also creates incentives for groups to organize at the grass roots and develop mobilization skills that go beyond electoral concerns. Thus changing rules for participation modified the nature of mobilization patterns, leading to a change in mobilization patterns, giving mobilization a longer-term and more policy-oriented focus. Most important, rather than maintaining the individual demand-based logic that had prevailed in Recife’s mobilization patterns up to 2000, this type of collective mobilization allows citizens to acquire new skills to deliberate over and collectively define the public good as well as to mobilize and formulate social demands to the local authorities.

Autonomy Matters: Mobilizing in Politically Controlled Participatory Mechanisms Whereas a straightforward comparison of the level of participation during the two periods immediately shows how PB (Recife-PT) was clearly more



successful than PPB/PB (Recife-PFL/PMDB), careful comparison of participatory practices shows lack of autonomy for civil society participants in both cases. Though PPB/PB and PB activities and delegates are supposed to be autonomous from political parties and apolitical, the executive managed to retain an important (though differently expressed) control over the composition and functions of the delegates in the two cases. Informal practices of political capture and cooption thus predominate over formal rules. The PPB/PB program was portrayed by its designers as an apolitical tool, intended to strengthen civil society and to break with the prevailing dynamics of targeted redistribution on the basis of personal political interests. Research has nonetheless shown that, instead of developing as such, PPB/PB mechanisms soon became a political tool controlled and used by political parties and delegates to strengthen their respective leadership position and popular support within the communities. First, as a participatory program emanating from and being controlled by the mayor’s office executive (Wampler 1999), PPB/PB has often been used as an attempt by the executive coalition to curtail the power exercised by municipal councilors in their support communities. The program embodied Vasconcelos’ will to give a voice and political weight to his traditional social support bases through direct access to the mayor’s office as a reward for their constant electoral support since his arrival on the political scene. As the elected delegates’ legitimacy rested on the benefits they were able to bring to their community, it was also highly contingent on their ability to enter into a relationship with the mayor and his officials. The incentive to comply with the local government’s political agenda was therefore very high, and most elected delegates were considered to be politically affiliated or sympathetic to the local PMDB government. Second, close examination of the delegates’ electoral process reveals a high degree of politicization in the PB electoral process. Elections to PB leadership positions would soon become closely tied with and dependent on organizational support from prominent local political figures, limiting the delegates’ autonomy once elected. Because they were partially losing their privileged access to financial resources, and thereby their discretionary spending power, several local municipal councilors feared losing their traditional bases of support in the communities. Several councilors thus captured the delegates’ electoral process, sponsoring candidates for delegates and making their election dependent on their support, and testimonies from local community leaders and local politicians



suggest a “massive cooption movement” (Melo et al. 2001, 89). The informal practices surrounding the electoral processes contributed to further politicizing delegate selection. The process was poorly publicized among community members and electoral assemblies, and was organized by the local government officers; electoral assemblies were either poorly attended by ordinary citizens or packed with local supporters brought in by buses organized by the city. In some cases, voters from outside the neighborhood were even bussed in to pack the assemblies (Melo et al. 2001). Though never carried out explicitly and directly, such political support has pervasive effects on the autonomy of the elected delegates, who are indebted to the municipal councilor who helped them gather popular support among citizens. Until 2001, the type of participation that developed within the PPB/PB institutions was therefore highly controlled, defined by the public authorities’ political agenda, which sought to ensure that extending and deepening public discussion with local organizations remained closely linked to the political will and composition of the administration in power (da Silva 2003). Despite the intention to break the dependence and lack of autonomy of PB participants they denounced while in opposition, the same story, articulated through different actors, was repeated under the PT. Newly elected, the PT sought to gather its own support bases among the population, and its flagship PB program’s delegates were soon coopted by political interests, controlling social debates and using local leaders’ legitimacy in their communities to mobilize partisan political support. This cooption process took a number of forms. It not only curtailed the participants’ autonomy in the governance process, creating privileged representation networks, but also prevented mobilized social organizations from becoming effective accountability agents as it sustained a dependent and unequal relationship between organized participants and governing leaders. First, an important way of politicizing and controlling PB spaces and participants is through affiliating neighborhood associations’ leaders and members to the PT, which politicizes the redistribution process. In fact an influential member of the Planejamento participativo team, the administrative branch in charge of PB, explained in an interview that through the delegates and forum coordinators the forums are informally occupied by parties, used for the political struggle, as are the other public spaces. The PT has a majority, but the other



parties also organize local leaders in the neighborhood where they have their electoral and militant support bases.6 (Patricio)

This view is corroborated by a PB delegate active in his community since the early phases of the PPB/PB program, who participated in the conception of PB with the PT and who is now regional coordinator of the PB Forum in his region: What I have seen here in the community associations is an important tendency to affiliate with political parties. There is a great incidence of political affiliation and a lot of people do so without really knowing why. (Edmundo)

Although publicly condemned by PT officials, the predominance of behind-the-scenes informal practices leading to the cooption of PB delegates for political purposes has also been corroborated through the denunciations made by several ex-delegates who decided to stop participating in what they call a political mechanism: In the beginning, PB was very good because it let social movements define what they wanted for their regions. But the program lost itself a bit in the past seven years as it mixed with politics. Doing so, it seems that it has armed itself with a whole structure to avoid contestation, explained ex-delegate Evódia Lima in an interview with Valor Econômico. (cited by Mandl 2008)

This is also the case for Heuner Santos, another ex-delegate, who explained he decided not to participate any more because “PB has been tied to its political use. I am not using electoral interests in my community” (cited by Mandl 2008). Associations and community leaders do enjoy credibility in their communities, and become central mobilization entrepreneurs for political parties during elections. Though generally denounced or minimized by public officials, many manifestations of this political use of PB have been observed during PB-related events of the 2008 cycle, giving them an electoralist flavor condemned by opposition members. The story presented to participants by Recife’s officials and the mayor’s discourse during PB meetings and plenaries, associating the program results with the election of the PT and with Mayor João Lima e Silva and his candidate João da Costa themselves, nurtures their credibility. Priscila Krause, a DEM municipal



councilor, explained in an interview that both used PB institutions for political purposes during the 2008 electoral cycle by organizing events in plenary sessions and discussing about the fact that if there is no continuity in the next election [a PT government], the public works chosen by PB participants will stop, that the ones that have already been approved won’t be done and that the one who did all the previous work with the communities was João da Costa, secretary of planning.7

This type of campaign is a strategy used by PT political leaders to make sure delegates who believe in PB will support them. A PB delegate’s experience is illustrative of how this strategy works in practice: I used to be affiliated with the PCdoB [ . . . ] but today, I am working for the election of our project, participatory budgeting, [ . . . ] so I am now working closer to the PT people, voluntarily working for the current campaign. (Filipe)

In fact, when they deliver, that is, when they bring back services to their neighborhood through PB, delegates and community leaders are more likely to be able to support the PT and eventually mobilize support for partisan purposes, as they did in the recent municipal campaigns for mayor. As related by a Folha journalist, “spontaneous” acts of support from delegates were particularly important during the 2007–08 PB cycle, which coincided with the 2008 municipal elections. Many participants publicly expressed their support for the PT administration or the members of the PT/PCdoB coalition, and many even campaigned for them, as did a PB delegate who was actively engaged in the João da Costa electoral campaign: A majority of delegates will participate [in João da Costa’s campaign], more than 60 percent support him. [ . . . ] Independently from being a delegate, I would have supported him with great pleasure. The thing with being a delegate is, however, that it’s easier because you have your community behind you [ . . . ] though you don’t have a vote as civil society, but you can talk, circulate, move around and gather a couple of votes, no? So being a delegate helps for this, and I think that more than 70 percent are going to ask votes for da Costa. (Silvia)

In PB meetings preceding the nomination of João da Costa as the official PT candidate for mayor, delegates were already calling him “the next mayor of Recife,” even affirming publicly that through the work of delegates on



the ground they “will win with João da Costa in our 13 zones as we won with the current mayor in 2004” (Alves 2007). Second, PB delegates and institutions have also been used by political parties and elected representatives as a tool for improving their political leverage during intergovernmental branch negotiations. As soon as Mayor João Lima e Silva launched the PB program, the local media noted many examples of PB delegates’ cooption by both municipal councilors and the PT mayor and his executive. For example, facing opposition in the local chamber of councilors during the procedures of the municipal budget adoption, Lima e Silva’s administration organized a major mobilization of PB delegates to support his budget proposal in the Chamber. As related by a Diário de Pernambuco reporter, “the [almost 400] PB delegates, coming in caravans [organized and paid by the municipal government], occupied all the available spaces to applaud the mayor during the event” (da Eloi 2001). Another element that needs to be highlighted is that, in the beginning, elected members of the Municipal Chamber of councilors (including PT councilors) did not favor adopting programs such as the PB, fearing it would reduce their role as intermediaries between the local government and citizens through which they secured their support bases. Yet, as Mayor João Paulo Lima e Silva explained to me: They soon changed their strategies: from fighting against it, they started to mobilize their support communities to participate in the PB process [ . . . ], who started demanding for their organized community under the influence of their municipal councilor.

As mentioned by both municipal councilor Krause and delegate Filipe, not only do PB delegates often affiliate with or mobilize for political parties, but many of them are also directly “tied to the municipal councilors themselves,” working in their political cabinet or mobilizing popular support for and presenting a councilor’s project to their local PB assembly. The challenge of PB in Recife under the PT is therefore lack of autonomy on the part of social actors involved in the process. As Evanildo Barbosa da Silva, a long-time NGO activist who participated as an actor and as an analyst of the PB process in Recife since its beginning, observed (2003, 52): The PB experience has not yet been able to produce autonomous social subjects: even if you have assisted in an animated mobilization of the local public spheres through PB and we have observed a social effervescence



around it, both are regulated from public authorities through their own management logic and criteria.

Instead of becoming empowered as autonomous partners of the local state, CSOs participating in Recife-PT remain state-dependent social actors mobilized for political parties rather than for their communities. The type of participation that emerges from such intervention is influenced by political interests, and the delegates do not enjoy the level of autonomy they would require to represent their neighbors’ interests independently from the ongoing political and ideological struggles already present in the public arena. The comparative cases of Recife stress the centrality of autonomy for understanding participatory mechanisms’ democratic success. Political control over participation downplays the fact that mobilization has become more collective and organized. Indeed, as they develop privilege through unequal ties with politicians, organized groups mobilized as collective actors are disempowered. Not only does it limit the impact of their collective action by making it dependent on informal ties with political parties and public officials; this particular condition limits the autonomy of PB participants and prevents them from becoming full citizens and efficient social accountability agents demanding social inclusion from the state.

Institutional Incentives, Actors, and Inter actions The comparison between the two PB experiences in Recife reveals elements of change and of continuity in how state-society relationships are articulated. What explains this variation in mobilization patterns, while observing a persisting lack of autonomy enjoyed by participants over the two periods? The main difference between the two periods is in the institutional design, with incentives for individual and particularistic mobilization resembling the Mexican cases in Recife-PFL/PMDB, and incentives for collective action in Recife-PT. Thus variation in mobilization patterns is best explained by the PT’s reforms to the institutional design of PB in 2001. If collective mobilization does alter clientelistic relationships, autonomy is a central element of democratization practices. Further comparison of Recife-PT with the case of León, in Mexico, reaffirms this centrality



of autonomy for participatory institutions to become transformative, and pleads for an argument following which institutional design alone cannot fully explain variation across and within countries. Informal actors’ practices within and around participatory institutions are just as important to the democratizing outcome, and are determined in the two Recife cases by similar sets of political incentives, power structures, and perceptions of the participatory process.

Comparing Institutions: Incentives and Disincentives for Collective Action Recife shares with the other cases studied in this book a peculiar history of associationalism at the grassroots level, but collective action remained limited by the fact that most social demands were channeled through powerful individuals benefiting from their privileged links to local authorities. In theory, the design of participatory mechanisms could work in two opposite ways: it can either reinforce previous dynamics of mobilization, or become a way to frame mobilization differently, to bring a collective component to it. Recife is an interesting example of both tendencies. Incentives for collective mobilization are found starting in 2001, a change to which the modified institutional design of PB institutions adopted under the PT local government of João Paulo Lima e Silva is critical. Under the PPB/PB model, several institutional features limited the incentives for community leaders to foment collective mobilization in their communities. First, the elected and appointed delegates were not acting as representatives of their communities defending the general population demands, but as influential individuals in relation with local authorities (Melo et al. 2001; Wampler 2007), which tends to reinforce the historical individual-based mobilization patterns identified in the last section. In fact, since the vote over policy priorities was taken only after the election of delegates in local plenary assemblies, the consultation process remained mostly up to them. Commenting on the participatory nature of the first PB program of Recife, one PB delegate we quoted earlier explained: The population was only there to elect representatives; they could not express their opinion for the public works. The ones who were choosing them were the local leaders: it was not participatory. It was like this, you were mobilizing to elect local leaders, delegates, but the ones who could express their opinions were only the delegates, not the population. (Silvia)



Further exploration of the practice of public consultation and deliberation in the PPB/PB process therefore reveals that beyond the electoral process, there was an absence of a formal requirement for delegates to consult with their community members and collectively formulate the demands that would be made on their behalf. Delegates often had no direct relationship with their neighbors during the PPB/PB process, and rather than making decisions based on the community will, they often relied on the information that was given to them by the municipality’s public servants: “we are always dependent on the expert opinion of the expert staff,” said a delegate in an interview to Melo et al. (2001, 143). As citizens were directly involved only in the election process, they had no formal means of holding their delegates accountable for the demands they formulated to the local government or for their positions in City Forum meetings. Thus local leaders from neighborhood associations had a central role in the participatory process as they were officially recognized as the communities’ interlocutors by the municipal government, who had only a few direct links with the general population (Wampler 1999). As delegates were formally the main actors of the PPB/PB process, formulating demands and negotiating them with the local government on behalf of their community, they became important leaders of opinion in their community and came to occupy a central position in the relationship between local politicians and their support bases. A second element of institutional design that had a negative impact on mobilization processes is the fragmentation of the process into microregions with only a limited number of citywide meetings every year. This fragmentation of the process fostered a fragmented form of mobilization, organized on the basis of particularistic demands emanating from individual citizens and not on the basis of the city’s general interest. Such a fragmentation made deliberation processes among the delegates in the City Forum problematic, according to participants’ accounts of the process: “everybody goes there thinking that they will come out as winners, and nobody wants to lose . . . to convince a delegate to vote for another area’s priority is really difficult” (Melo et al. 2001, 144). The structure of the program indeed encouraged delegates and community leaders to work in the interest of their own community, against the others, an institutional feature that contributes to undermining the capacity of community groups to organize collectively across the city and to develop an urban movement supported by large social bases (Souto-Maior Fontes 1997). The third element that constitutes



an institutional limit for developing deliberative and organizational skills among the delegates and their communities is the unequal structure of the deliberative forums, where the local government is the main actor and often dictates the course of the deliberations. Analysts have reported that participants in the City Forum can hardly intervene during the meetings: “everything is done in a hurry. The municipality tells us how much it has to spend in each area, and there is very little time left for negotiations” (Melo et al. 2001, 144). Hence the structure of decision making in the PPB/PB process did not provide the necessary institutional incentives for fostering collective mobilization processes, thereby reinforcing the cultural legacies of particularistic and individual-based mobilization inherited from Recife’s history of associationalism. The institutional framework implemented under the PT brought important structural changes to include mechanisms to reach a more mass-based participation, which widens the scope of mobilization to the benefit of local collective organization capacity building. The principle of universal participation introduced by the PT administration “fostered the involvement of many associative segments of organizational forms and nature different from the ones already known [community associations]” (Barbosa da Silva and Chaves Teixeira 2007, 149), taking power away from the traditional social actors, empowering new associational forms, and thereby widening the scope of mobilization processes in the neighborhoods. Another important feature of the PT program that extended mobilization in the communities is the introduction of formal requirements for restricting demand-making processes in plenary sessions to organized groups of ten citizens or more. Though any citizen can register a demand to the PB process and run for delegate, all projects need to be supported and carried by organized groups of citizens to be included in the PB discussions and voted in regional deliberative assemblies, a rule that encourages citizens to collectively organize through either existing channels or spontaneously organized groups of neighbors. A closer look at deliberation and consultation processes also indicates the existence of formal mechanisms for citizens to be involved in the most important phases of the decision-making process, the formulation of collective demands in each microregional and regional assembly. The fact that the vote for investment priorities is done in deliberative regional plenary meetings by the general public and not by the delegates gives incentives for



those who propose public works projects to mobilize in groups. As observed by an ex-delegate: A project that mobilizes a lot has better chances of being on top. Normally, when people mobilize, they already know they are going to vote for such proposal. So, in general, people come with a certain weight already, and the proposal that gets more mobilization is usually one that’s been long waited for in a community so people go in masses. (Eduardo)

Moreover, the PT model includes formal mechanisms for citizens to hold their delegates accountable, which also give them other spaces to participate in the process over the course of the year cycle and not only during the formal consultation phase. In fact, open to the public local delegates’ forums, where elected delegates from the microregions meet each month to discuss the approved PB projects and their eventual implementation, are local venues allowing further deliberation and a certain level of citizen control over the results of the PB process. Such assemblies are institutionally relatively independent from the municipality, because even though they are formally included in the PB structure, they are organized and led by the local PB coordinators, who are citizens elected among each microregion’s delegates. As observed in the meetings attended in July 2008,8 the structure of such forums privileged deliberations and discussions among delegates, without much intervention from the administration officials. Such an observation tends to bolster the idea that the new structure of PB created a more balanced situation where deliberation is encouraged, fostering collaboration and mobilization among delegates. One final institutional feature sustaining collective mobilization capacity through the PB process is the fact that, though still compartmentalized into the eighteen microregions where most of the meetings are held, the PT version of the PB process has more of a citywide focus, including venues where the delegates can interact with one another and become aware of the city’s largest challenges. Such a focus on city issues is indeed made possible by the existence of two institutional mechanisms bringing delegates from all microregions together: the COP and the caravana de prioridades (priorities caravan). The COP, as the citizen-based control mechanism of the PB process, brings together two delegates from each microregion (the elected coordinators) every month to follow up on the PB projects approved in regional assemblies (Prefeitura do Recife 2001). The priorities’ caravans are organized every year by the municipality in order to bring delegates to other



microregions prior to final approval of the budget in forums. Together, these two mechanisms contribute to bringing other neighborhoods’ concerns to the delegates’ attention, which creates a common understanding of the city’s most pressing needs and challenges and allows collective mobilization to occur among delegates from various regions. As a result, institutional design defines the nature of mobilization processes, who enters the participatory channels made available by the local government, and who may legitimately do so. Under the PB-PT the massoriented institutional process offers more possibilities for the ordinary population to actually participate in the decision-making process, and not only in the more general definition of policy orientations. However, even though the collective mobilizations promoted by the new PB format may have had an impact on generating better policy outcomes and urban development, a complete understanding of its impact necessitates looking at the level of autonomy enjoyed by these newly empowered collective actors.

Different Institutions, Both Politicized: Actors’ Strategies and Perceptions Both Recife-PFL/PMDB and Recife-PT show signs of very limited autonomy for participants in the PB process. Why is there a continuity in political control practices in Recife, in spite of important institutional innovations and change? Why do politicians from all political formations politicize participation and control its institutions? In the case of Recife, PB participants lack autonomy and are often coopted by local politicians, hindering their potential role as accountability agents despite the introduction of institutional reforms opening up spaces for mass-based mobilization under the PT. What explains this continuity of political control between the two periods beyond the introduction of institutional reforms by the PT? Fragile Coalitions, Strong Opposition, and Factionalism The level of political competition, among parties but also within the ruling political party in Recife, and the high level of competition between right and left political parties as well as within the ruling coalitions contribute to explaining why the coalitions led by PFL/PMDB and PT have developed a strategy of state penetration of all public spaces, including the local participatory institutions. First, the fierce external competition among left and right political parties and their respective (and changing) coalitions that has traditionally



characterized Recife’s electoral arena is an important incentive for political parties to occupy as much space as they can in the city and to seek support among the organized social movements and organizations. For example, the consolidation of PPB/PB programs under Magalhães in 1997 coincided with a new alliance between the PMDB and the PFL/DEM (da Silva 2003). Despite the traditional struggles between these two naturally opposed parties, the rise of the PT on the left of the local political spectrum led them to enter into a political coalition for the 1996 election, for which the continuity of the PPB/PB was a central element. Participatory ambitions emerged from Jarbas Vasconcelos’ administration and the PMDB, but as a result of his political alliance with the center-left party, Magalhães continued the program. The need for such a coalition explains the continuity of the program under the DEM/PMDB government, but according to many observers, Magalhães’ administration was much less concerned about the success of this program than his predecessor (Melo et al. 2001; Wampler 2007; Barbosa da Silva 2003). As suggested in the literature, in this context, the institutionalization of participation and the introduction of PB entered in tension with the political will to turn the instances of participation into the central element of the local distribution of public goods. (Avritzer 2003, 40)

This tension was reflected in how PPB/PB was organized and social demands were carried through by the municipal government during the following years, explaining the lack of political commitment observed by the decreasing rate of public works achieved through the program and undermining the prospects for PPB/PB to become a real citizen-based deliberative means toward social inclusion. Numbers indeed reveal that the proportion of new projects approved through the PPB/PB process dramatically decreased during the Magalhães administration; most of the public works that have been executed were indeed already approved by Vasconcelos during his mandate. Moreover, PPB/PB delegates participating in the City Forum reported having been told to not even present new proposals, as they would come about (Melo et al. 2001). Interviews with ex-PPB/PB delegates such as Silvia and Edmundo have also corroborated a decrease and lack of commitment on the administration’s part, which has exacerbated the delegates’ deception with the PFL government. Another illustration of the importance of external competition to account for the political control



of participatory institutions is the arrival of the PT in government in 2001 after an intense electoral competition with the incumbent administration. As neighborhood associations were generally associated with the opposition political parties’ flagship participatory programs (PPB/PB and PREZEIS), the PT suggested reforms that would allow them to reach the masses and build new networks of support among CSOs, in order to break the associative tradition that empowered CSO leaders who were seen as closely connected to Vasconcelos (Wampler 2007, 233). They thus deployed a program that would go beyond recognizing neighborhood associations as the only legitimate social partners of the state, instead requiring individual citizens to organize into groups of citizens around specific proposals. This political strategy developed by local PT leaders around the PB program allowed them to overcome what they called the “overinfluence” of non-pétista community leaders and, by the same token, to attract poorly organized citizen groups and their newly empowered representatives in the support ranks of the PT through cooption practices. The incentives provided by a context of intense political competition are there for PT leaders, but the same logic prevailed to a certain extent for opposition parties, as municipal councilor Krause suggested in an interview. Second, internal competition within political parties is also an important element explaining political leaders’ strategies toward participatory institutions, especially in Brazil, where internal competition can be seen within parties and ruling coalitions and between the diverse branches of the local government. As we have seen, the emergence and consolidation of the PPB/PB program in Recife happened in the context of an unlikely coalition between two parties traditionally opposed, the PFL and the PMDB. The tensions and competition between the components of the coalition led by Magalhães were reflected within the public administration and, consequently, in the management of the PB process. In fact, the mayor was reluctant to give too much power to the PPB/PB mechanisms and delegates because they were seen as a political tool of the PMDB branch of the heterogeneous political coalition in power (Melo et al. 2001). Most of the public officials in charge of the program had been appointed by the PMDB, and since they were monitoring the process and had antennas within the local communities, the mayor tried to avoid empowering such institutional channels. On the opposite side, the PMDB leaders tried to keep their political alliances with social sectors alive through the PPB/PB



process. Power struggles between the legislative and executive branches of government were also important during this period. In fact, the reluctance of PFL/DEM municipal councilors toward the PPB/PB program, seen as a threat to the municipal councilors’ role in the communities, became an important source of political struggles between the chamber and the mayor, whose legitimacy and right to veto were questioned by the chamber discussing the PB program in 1998–99.9 The mayor did not respond by downsizing the role of the program as requested. Instead, the PPB/PB program and its delegates became instruments of power struggles, denounced by legislators and used by the executive, supported by the empowered local leaders attached to the program, to reinforce its central position within the municipal administration. The experience of the 2001–2008 PT administrations also confirms the importance of internal competition as an incentive for politicians to try to use participatory institutions to secure alliances with social leaders and their local support networks. By nature, the PT is a political party made of several political factions, representing different ideological tendencies under the same larger leftist umbrella. As a quite decentralized organization, however, the level of internal tensions within the party’s local sections varies from municipality to municipality according to the local context. In Recife, the leadership of the first elected mayor of the PT, Lima e Silva, has been highly contested within the ranks of the party. Though very popular among the population, such popularity has not proven to be sufficient to ensure his legitimacy within the ranks of the local PT, especially among the opposing faction Unidade na Luta. As observed by a Folha de Pernambuco reporter in 2006, “divided in tendencies, the PT did not curve toward the one that can be considered to be its major popular leader, often opposing resistance to João Paulo Lima e Silva’s opinions” (Rozowykwiat 2006). PB institutions, as the flagship program of the executive, were therefore used as a way for the mayor to secure his privileged access to local CSO leaders and to gather support among the general population, which would grant him a certain degree of authority within the municipality despite his lack of support within the party. Internal conflicts within the ruling coalition were also manifest in the Chamber of Councilors. The other parties in the coalition often opposed the PT mayor’s proposals, and he frequently used his veto power. The flagship program of João Paulo Lima e Silva’s government, associated by its participants to the man more than the party, was



therefore an excellent instrument for building mass-based popular support and his legitimacy within the party, securing the loyalty of PB delegates through cooption and pork barreling practices. Moreover, the internal competition among the various factions of the party was also reflected in disputes surrounding the choice of the PT candidate for mayor, as the struggle surrounding the 2008 PT candidate illustrated. As the candidate of the incumbent mayor, the ex-secretary in charge of the PB process João da Costa, faced a notable opposition movement within the party, and his nomination was far from unanimous (Rozowykwiat 2006), which might also contribute to explaining the use of PB institutions and delegates to gather popular support for the candidate and alliances with social actors traditionally supporting the PT. Therefore, for the two Recife cases/periods, strong external and internal political competition has created incentives for local politicians from all parties to try to benefit politically from the existence of an organized structure of citizen participation to secure support bases through the cooption of PB delegates and political control over the participatory spaces, moving traditional political conflicts from the electoral arena to the public sphere. Civil Society: Unequal Access and Tensions  During both phases of participatory budgeting in Recife, and partly as a result of the exclusive focus placed by municipal authorities on certain—yet different—channels and groups in both cases, serious imbalances in terms of access to municipal authorities and competition among CSOs within participatory channels have characterized their interactions with one another in the public sphere and their participation in PB institutions. During the PPB/PB period, formal access in participation channels was highly controlled and mostly reserved for community leaders. In spite of this, as we have seen, neighborhood associations—as one of the major forms of social organization active in the city, because they had generally supported Vasconcelos’ campaign for mayor in the 1980s—were already the type of CSO with the greater political leverage. Since 2001, the social organizations and local NGOs with traditionally greater social mobilization, and in turn political leverage, have generally participated outside the official channels of the PB process, which creates unoccupied spaces for political parties to maneuver at the community level, mobilizing militants and deploying strategies to coopt newly empowered participants and delegates



within the ranks of the party. In fact, before the election of the PT, there were already certain participatory dynamics in place with the registered neighborhood associations participating in the program for urbanization of the favelas (PREZEIS), dynamics that are not respected under the PT’s version of the PB program. However, local NGOs such as ETAPAS and FASE-Recife10 have been central actors in facilitating implementation and organization of the PREZEIS in the local communities: Local NGOs and urban social movements played a critical role in the approval and implementation of PREZEIS. In these first two periods, NGOs acted as facilitators in the relationship between government agencies and community-based organizations. Their expertise, command of language and institutional autonomy were elements which contributed to the development of such a role. (Maia 1996)

As urban planning experts and community organization facilitators, local NGOs invested a lot of effort and energy in strengthening local neighborhood associations, a role that transformed them into a crucial actor in the consolidation of this mechanism and the consequent urban development of the favelas. In spite of this, the PB and PREZEIS processes have never been integrated and remained in a dispute for space in the governance structure (Barbosa da Silva 2003). Such an exclusive focus on PB as the legitimate channel of participation thus created tensions within civil society and the defection of many groups from the PB process. In fact, one of the architects of the 2008 PT electoral program and member of the Planejamento participativo team observed that there have been growing tensions between the two programs, tensions that have led to the exit of most locally organized NGOs from the process, as well as to changes in the structure of neighborhood associationalism: There is a struggle of public spaces between the PREZEIS, which has its own local organization, and the PB. For local leaders, neighborhood social organizations and NGOs it’s like there are two distinct entities, two separate institutions. It was a big shock for the PREZEIS when PB was adopted since it is today a privileged institutional figure for the municipal government, the most important PT government program.

These tensions among civil society actors affect their strategies toward existing participatory mechanisms. Moreover, there is a tendency on the part of local NGOs and civil society organizations who initially supported



the PT and its political agenda but ended up not being included as such in the PB cycle to criticize it in the local media for being inherently flawed by an “overt political influence and privileged access to power for certain RPAs as well as the political cooption of those who integrate the process” (Moura 2003). A good example of this is the common document produced by several NGOs active in Recife in 2003 under the auspices of the local section of ABONG, providing a very critical account of the relations between the PT government of João Paulo Lima e Silva and Recife’s civil society organizations (Moura 2003). Among other things, they offered criticism that despite the efforts of the government to create participatory mechanisms, there was still an “absence of spaces for the exercise of criticism toward the existing processes” (Associação Brasileira das Organizações Não-Governamentais, Nordeste 2003). As explained by Isabela Valença, from ETAPAS: After a certain period, there was a disenchantment from the NGOs’ part [toward PB] because we thought that things would be different, that there would be planning, execution, monitoring . . . but we saw that it wasn’t the case. [ . . . ] Because NGOs do not represent residents per se, our participation [in PB] as NGOs quasi lost its sense and so we only continued participating in PREZEIS audiences and formations.11

One difficulty encountered by the elected delegates and participants of PB was that they felt the absence of NGOs, which have a really important role in these participatory spaces in the sense that when they enter they contribute importantly, especially when it comes to capacitating participants (Barbosa da Silva and Silva 2003). The fact that civic groups with a somewhat autonomous capacity to mobilize and organize citizens at the community level are no longer participating in the PB process creates a situation where PB participants often represent a sector of the population that, though participating in groups as the process requires, is less organized and has no experience of autonomous social mobilization. Divisions within civil society over PB institutions hinder CSOs from accumulating collective social learning, and exclude already mobilized and organized autonomous social groups. This allows cooption practices with the newcomers who form social groups around their particular and often ephemeral social demands on the PB itself, thereby limiting the autonomy and pluralism of the groups mobilized through the PB process, mostly following the lines and directions of the current government they are mobilized for in the participatory process.



Thus, even if analysis suggests that there were differences in who occupies the space between the two periods analyzed in the case of Recife, we can affirm that in both cases the pluralistic balance of powers among active CSOs was not totally reflected in PB institutions, which provided differentiated access to municipal authorities to CSOs with more political leverage within the ruling coalition. In fact, in both cases, we can see that the groups having privileged relationships with the local state tended to participate more actively, preventing development of an autonomous civil society whose organization could peacefully coexist and collectively participate within the institutions of participatory budgeting. The Meaning of Participation: Politically Oriented, Socially Disengaged In Recife, the perception of self-roles expressed by social, administrative, and political actors reveals the profoundly unequal nature of the interactions taking place in the municipal participatory institutions, dominated by the municipal government officials and the PT administrators. One of the main observations about PPB/PB relates to the ambiguity of the delegates’ own understanding of their role in the process, as delegates per se but also in relation to other community leaders and municipal councilors who channeled citizens’ demands to the local state as well (Melo et al. 2001). The tension and struggles between delegates with different political tendencies and municipal councilors, deriving from the misunderstanding of each other’s functions as well as recognition of their respective roles in urban development project achievements, also have important consequences on the nature of their engagement in the community. On the one hand, delegates often were more concerned with their personal interest as “community leaders” than with the community itself. Moreover, local authorities tend to assume that community leaders and delegates will assume responsibility for the state’s wrongdoings and policy-making shortcomings, seeing them as “political buffers” between themselves and the population (Melo et al. 2001). Such an ambiguity in perceived functions, reinforced by the behavior of the local executive toward them, is reflected in how delegates engage in the participatory process, understanding their role as working with the municipality and for their own recognition rather than representing their community members in municipal decision-making venues. The ambiguity and misunderstanding of the delegates’ roles persist in the more recent PB model, where delegates are defined as social allies of



the local government based at the community level. According to Mayor João Lima e Silva, the PB program is a project of government, the massoriented process of which is related to the PT’s larger political project. As such, it aims at “elevating popular conscience and improving the quality of life through popular participation, which are both necessary for the advancement of the construction of democracy, more just and including social control,” said Mayor Lima e Silva. As explained by the Planejamento participativo team member: The PB serves to equip the municipal government through community leaders, who were brought by the state, which gives them public functions, such as forum coordinators, etc. [ . . . ] The administration takes the community leaders and gives them a public function in a project that is led by the PT itself. It is then like personal opportunities that, indirectly, the PT gives them.

This understanding of the role of citizen participants is reflected in how the main PB mobilization actors, delegates, and coordinators see their own function in the process. As in the case of Neza, many delegates I interviewed see themselves as working for the local government in the communities, and not the other way around. Commenting on her role as citizen representative, Silvia, active as both delegate and PB coordinator of her region, explained: “As a delegate, I am not from the public administration, I am supporting the administration because I share the same ideology, proposals and dreams.” As her fellow delegate commented, this misunderstanding of the delegates’ role has major consequences for the actual participatory process: People think they are giving a hand to the municipal administration, they see it this way, as if they were working for the municipality. But it’s not the case. [ . . . ] I am not giving a hand to the municipality; I am there to observe what they are doing with my money, which is different. Unfortunately, people still do not see it that way and think that they should get something in return. If there is a mayor that doesn’t have a larger vision, he is going to love it, give free transportation and food for everyone because then he will have everyone under his control. This is another big challenge that we face. (Edmundo)

This type of perception, commonly present among social PB participants, contributes in turn to feeding the dependent status and lack of autonomy



experienced by social actors and to make possible the use of cooption strategies by political parties, which disempowers mobilized groups. Such perceptions and the resulting behavior of actors involved in Recife’s PB institutions have two main consequences. First, the administration’s understanding of the delegates’ function leads it to undervalue their need for training, something that is crucial to developing autonomous participation skills among the population and to preventing the use of cooption practices by local politicians. The persisting lack of training as well as the apathy and lack of information about PB among the population only contribute to reinforce the prevailing conception of participation and in turn open up the possibilities of cooption for political parties. To conclude, in Recife, although the two institutional designs of PB framed mobilization capacity at the grassroots level differently, there is a high degree of continuity as both governmental administrations, facing intense competition both from outside and from within parties, used their influence over participatory budgeting and coopted its participants to secure support. This strategy not only contributed to maintaining the exclusionary and nonpluralistic nature of civil society groups active in participatory mechanisms; it also fed the negative perceptions of both social and political actors about the process, weakening even more the prospects for PB to generate democratizing outcomes.

Conclusion This chapter showed that if participatory institutional design can transform mobilization practices, it is not enough to fully understand the transformative effect of participatory institutions on the deepening of democracy. The continuity observed between the two Recife experiences emphasizes that the autonomy necessary for collective actors to engage in a democratic relationship with the state does not reside in institutions. It is in fact defined through the contours of informal practices. The comparison of the two PB experiences in Recife shows that there has been a shift in mobilization patterns between the two models, which is mainly explained by the focus placed by both governments on certain institutional features. PPB/PB mobilized mostly individuals; the PT model allowed more pluralism and mass-based deliberations, which also sustained



collective mobilization mechanisms. Under the PPB/PB program, clientelistic state-society relationships based on close and direct exchange relationships between the mayor and community leaders seem to have continued and adapted to the introduction of participatory budgeting. In fact, though the PMDB/PFL administrations have sought to include more citizen participation in resource allocation decision-making processes, the emphasis put on community leaders as the central channels of demand making precluded development of collective mobilization patterns at the community level, sustaining particularistic and individual-based mobilization. Combined with the lack of autonomy of PB participants, the persistence of such participation has therefore contributed to the durability of clientelism as the principal mode of state-society interactions within PB institutions. Under PT, an important change has been observed in patterns of social mobilization, which became more collective and oriented toward the defining, on the part of citizens, of the common good. Such a change, due to institutional reforms introduced by the PT administration in 2001, was, however, not accompanied by a similar change in the nature of participation in the PB process, which remained highly controlled by political parties. The persistence of informal practices of cooption has had the effect of disempowering the organized social forces collectively mobilized around the PB process, a trend that characterizes the essence of the new type of state-society relationship that emerged through PB in Recife, which I called disempowering cooption. As the case of Recife-PT highlights, the fact that collective mobilization spaces exist and are used by citizens does not guarantee a positive impact on citizenship: how they are used by both political and social actors has an even more important impact on the potential democratic outcomes as it shapes the ability of civil society actors to enter the social construction of inclusive citizenship regimes with the local state and to become accountability agents. In Recife-PT, evidence has shown that instead of generating democratic practices at the grassroots level, politicians and parties have captured the collective action mechanisms. Priscila Krause, DEM municipal councilor, even suggests that: When nothing of all this existed [participatory budgeting mechanisms], the community had to refer to the politicians directly, who had leverage with the municipal government and could ask on behalf of the community. Now, there is a form of popular participation, a way for citizens to



make demands to the local government. If this mechanism is well utilized or not in practice is, however, a whole other story.

This lack of autonomy remains a greater challenge to the development of cooperative relationships between civil society and the state as it relies on undemocratic cooption practices and informal exchanges, even in contexts where civil society participates in a more organized way as in Recife. Comparing Recife-PT experience with the case of León is particularly interesting to illustrate this, as the latter has generated the opposite situation. In that case, the institutional format proposed by the PAN strengthened individual mobilization at the grass roots, but autonomy was one of the pillars defining participation, limiting the negative impact of individualbased mobilization on the transformation of historically clientelistic statesociety relationships. Thus, and though there have been advances in terms of collective organization in Recife since 2001, the prevalence of informal practices and cooption within PB institutions brings the logic of political interests and struggles to the center of the demand-making and deliberation processes, which tends to curtail the prospects for achieving greater social inclusion through an undifferentiated access to citizenship rights and the existence of effective accountability mechanisms.


Belo Horizonte The Route Toward Democratic Cooperation? When Patrus [Ananias] implemented PB here in Belo Horizonte, we were already fighting. But it opened the doors that were closed up until then. Today, it’s not about who you know. You can demand, and the government listens to the population, governs for the population today, for the residents and the poorest of this city. —délia,

pb delegate




Belo Horizonte was founded in 1897 to become the capital and the main industrial city of Minas Gerais. With a population of 2.4 million, Belo Horizonte has historically been considered a quite centralized and exclusionary model of governance, and is often characterized as the traditional bastion of the conservative Brazilian political forces. But in part because of the split between the very well-established Catholic Church and the conservative parties, Belo Horizonte became an important arena for political contestation during the military regime and in the first years of electoral opening. Social activism against the regime led to an important growth of community associationalism in the city—though relatively fragmented and still organized around clientelistic forms of political inclusion—that was the main driver of the political organization of the left in the late 1980s. Yet the emergence of political pluralism in the 1980s was not necessarily associated with a transformation of the local governance model and of state-society relationships, something the PT-led coalition of Patrus Ananias meant to tackle when it came to power in 1993. Did the arrival of the left coalition led by the PT in 1993 contribute to the democratization of state-society relationships in Belo Horizonte? More


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precisely, did the implementation of participatory budgeting, the flagship program of the PT in Belo Horizonte, contribute to the rise of an autonomous civil society collectively mobilizing for social inclusion? This chapter shows how and why, contrary to what was observed in previous cases, Belo Horizonte’s participatory institutions have become transformative. PB has indeed contributed to what can be considered as the beginning of a redefinition of state-society relationships, based on democratic cooperation through participatory institutions.

The For m ation of the Cit y: From Populism to Political Plur alism (19 4 0 –19 9 2) Created in 1897 to reorganize the state’s economy via a regional industrial center, Belo Horizonte was the first Brazilian planned city. With urbanization nonetheless came the favelas (also called vilas), as early as 1895. In fact, urbanization planning did not include living space for the important inflow of migrant construction workers (Fernandes 1993) who therefore had to live in the outskirts of the city. Very far from work and with poor commuting options, construction workers started to illegally occupy the unoccupied spaces in the hills surrounding the downtown area, generally not suitable for housing because of precarious geographical and ecological conditions. Emerging industries brought massive inflows of migrants from rural areas in search for better jobs and living conditions, which also contributed to the population of favelados as the city expanded (Rezende Afonso and de Azevedo 1987). By the mid-1940s, the ever-growing number of favelas had thus become an important challenge for local political elites. As in Recife, however, a modernization logic prevailed during Estado Novo in Belo Horizonte: many favelas of the center were evicted for “urbanization purposes” (Fernandes 1993, 215), and their marginalized populations were pushed to peripheral and nonurbanized areas. Prior to the mid-1940s, urban movements were generally repressed by the state as they were considered subversive and associated with communism and the then-banned PCdoB (Rezende Afonso and de Azevedo 1987). Only a few disorganized groups were active in the city, generally structured around their opposition to the policy of eradication of the favelas

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and expulsion of their residents. It is only in the first years of the populist republic (1945–1964) that the city saw a proliferation of neighborhood associations, often organized clandestinely or under the auspices and protection of the local church. They soon became one of the main forms of social organization in Belo Horizonte. Fighting to obtain the right of organization, they created the Associações de Defensa Coletiva (ADC, Collective Defense Associations), which later became united under the Federação dos Trabalhadores Favelados de Belo Horizonte (Federation of Belo Horizonte Favela Workers). In spite of this, most of the active neighborhood associations, and especially their leaders, were not autonomous interlocutors but were instead controlled by local bosses (Schettini 2004; Wampler 2007; Somarriba and Rezende Afonso 1987). Their ability to reach local politicians and formulate demands was highly dependent on their capacity to gather electoral support, and the associations’ demands were generally met by the mayor in a clientelistic way, “giving spaces and apartments to people with whom he [the mayor] had a certain relation, emptying the role of the associations as the movement’s interlocutors to the government” (Rezende Afonso and de Azevedo 1987, 118). With the military coup of 1964, existing neighborhood organizations closely associated with the incumbents were repressed by the appointed pro-military local authorities and eventually disappeared. Pre-1964 community leaders were repressed, jailed, or sent into exile, and “the channels of participatory expression [ . . . ] were either closed or transformed into passive structures” (Pompermayer 1987, 10). Repression did not mean total disappearance of local neighborhood organizations, nonetheless. As was the case in Recife, several local organizations remained active under the auspices of the church-based CEBs. In fact, “protected by the CEBs, residents’ associations of all sorts proliferated, demanding improvements in their living conditions. 60% of the 202 community associations registered in Belo Horizonte in 1980 were created after 1974” (Pompermayer 1987, 13). Moreover, during the apertura (1974–1985), the military launched the Programa de Desenvolvimento de Comunidades (PRODECOM, Community Development Program), supposedly aimed at tackling the issues of urbanization and regularization of favelas by working with community leaders. Though well received by community leaders, the program was widely denounced by the Left and intellectual circles for its clientelistic and patronizing character, as it had “contributed to legitimizing the action of


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the government [and] interfered with the autonomy of social movements” (Fernandes 1993, 218). As explained by Rezende Afonso and de Azevedo (1987), this program constituted an opportunity to distort the role of neighborhood associations, recreating the traditional dependency of local leaders on the state’s representatives and configuring conditions conducive to informal practices of cooption and political favoritism generally oriented toward the better-off segments of society and strengthening social exclusion and inequality in the city. Such practices produced an important gap in access to power and resources between the urbanized neighborhoods and the favelas, sustaining discontent and demands often mobilized by the emerging political opposition to the military regime. This situation became even more critical during the political opening of the regime, when the opposition formed the local government of Belo Horizonte. In Belo Horizonte, it was the official opposition party of military rule, the PMDB, in power from 1983 to 1988, that ensured the smooth transition to democracy and electoral politics. Yet the electoral opening paved the way for opposition parties to emerge or reemerge, creating an environment of political pluralism and competitive elections at the municipal level. The return to democracy also formally opened the space for previously repressed CSOs and neighborhood groups to exist and organize. In an important study, Avritzer (2000) suggested that Belo Horizonte is a particularly interesting case for observing the awakening of civil society in the aftermath of the transition to democracy. In fact, more than fifteen hundred citizen associations were created or officially registered between 1980 and 1990, a major increase compared to the previous periods. This not only indicates increasing social activity at the grassroots level, but it also reveals a growing dissatisfaction linked to long-unheard social concerns. Both the PMDB (1983–1988) and PSDB (1989–1992) administrations attempted to respond to general popular dissatisfaction by decentralizing parts of the decision-making processes to the nine administrative regions, and also by including participatory measures. In fact, the PSDB government adopted the Programa participativo de Obras Prioritarias (PROPAR, Participatory Program for Priority Works), which consisted of regional assemblies where the mayor met with citizens to learn what their concerns were. Though they were open to citizen participation, these meetings were not even minimally deliberative as they served to give the municipal government better knowledge of local needs but without any commitment to respond to

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them (Boschi 1999). They were only partly achieved and therefore had very limited impact on the decision-making mechanisms and social inclusion processes (Somarriba and Dulci 1997). More ominously, they even strengthened the already powerful local political brokers by giving them resources to feed their captive clientele. Thus there is an important legacy of associationalism in Belo Horizonte. But as observed in the three other cases, state-society relationships were generally mediated through clientelistic exchanges between influential community leaders, who personally benefited from privileged links with local politicians to bring public goods to their communities in exchange for their support. A delegate from the Aglomerado da Serra (the largest favela of Belo Horizonte), very active in her community since the 1960s and also president of the neighborhood association of the Vila Fátima, explained: Before, the municipal government wasn’t open, the doors were all closed. To ask for something, you needed a sponsor, a godfather and here in the vilas and favelas, we did not have this. The community had nothing, no street lighting, no paved streets, no sewage system, no buses, etc. You could cry, you could ask, but if you did not have a sponsor that helped you to meet the mayor, there was no way you could get services. (Délia)

In 1993, the incoming leftist government faced multiple challenges: extreme urban inequality, urbanization problems, and growing social dissatisfaction. To deepen democratization and achieve its social justice goal, the new local government chose to implement innovative social programs that would transform clientelistic state-society relationships and deepen democratic practices in Belo Horizonte’s political and social spheres.

The Left in Power: The Rise of Pa rt ic i patory P ol i t ic s in Belo Horizonte The political opening of the late 1970s provided new opportunities for opposition to the military regime and its official parties to start organizing at the grass roots. In Belo Horizonte, however, the traditionally poorly organized and marginal leftist movements and political forces did not benefit immediately from the opening and the general climate of political


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pluralism. Founded in the early 1980s, the PT remained a relatively weak political force until the 1989 presidential election, in which the party’s most prominent figure gathered an important share of the popular vote at the national level for the first time in the party’s history.

The PT/PSB Coalition in Power It was in 1993 that the left won a first election in Belo Horizonte, under Patrus Ananias (PT)’s alliance with the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Socialist Party of Brazil). As Table 7.1 shows, the PT-PSB coalition has since become the main political force in the city, with the population consistently electing PT or PT-supported candidates for mayor with increasing shares of the popular vote. Contrary to what happened in other Brazilian municipalities, the rise of the PT in Belo Horizonte is not associated with workers’ unions (Abers 1996), but rather with Catholic Church activists and the growing leftist social movements. Several political leaders who aligned with the Left emerged from the grassroots activities related to the local churches’ communities, such as the CEBs, including the most prominent PT figures to give an impetus to the party, such as the first PT mayor, Patrus Ananias (Avritzer 2009b). At the end of the military rule, underground leftist social movements contributed to generate the momentum to create a political party at the left of the spectrum (Avritzer 2009b). These movements also produced many PT leaders, among them the future president of the party, Virgilio Guimarães. Brought together in the late 1970s, these two groups created the local section of the PT, which would nonetheless remain electorally weak until 1989, when national mobilization behind the PT presidential candidate, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, extended to the city. The rise of the left in Belo Horizonte was therefore slow, mainly because the traditional opposition parties (PMDB and PSDB), in line with the city’s conservative tradition, remained competitive political forces until the early 1990s, and beyond. The electoral success of the PT thus depended on its constant ability to negotiate political alliances with the PSB and other centrist political formations in order to become a catch-all coalition able to get elected (Wampler 2007). In 1993, the first elected mayor, Ananias, won in an alliance with Célio de Castro, the leader of the PSB who would eventually become the coalition’s candidate for mayor in 1996. Even if the alliance between the PT and the PSB was never sealed as such by an official


belo horizonte table 7.1  Results for Municipal Elections by Political Party or Electoral Coalition, Belo Horizonte, 1993–2011 Mandate

Political Parties & Coalitions / Elected Mayors

% Vote


PMDB (Hélio de Carvalho Garcia)



PSDB (João Pimenta da Veiga—elected)



PT / Frente BH Popular (Patrus Ananias de Sousa—PT/PSB/PC/PV, elected)






PSB / Frente BH Nôvo (Célio Castro—PSB/PT—elected)




PSB / Frente BH Popular (Célio Castro—PSB/PT—elected)










PT (Fernando Pimentel—PT/PTB/PPS/PCdoB— elected)





PSB/ Aliança por BH (Mario Lacerda—PT/PSDB—elected)







source: Compiled by the author with (incomplete) electoral data from the Tribunal Regional Eleitoral de Minas Gerais (TRE-MG), [page consulted on 07/06/09]. note: Electoral results are based upon the results obtained by the main coalitions’ candidates for mayor after the first round. In all cases, the first-round winner was also elected in the second round.

political pact, it remained relatively stable over the years,1 allowing the Left to become the most important political force in the quite fragmented and pluralistic political arena of Belo Horizonte. The election of the leftist coalition led by Ananias in 1993 had many important consequences for the PT’s consolidation as a leading political force in the capital of the traditionally conservative State of Minas, but also more generally for the municipal administrative organization and governance mechanisms.


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As Avritzer (2009b) points out, the elements in the coalition were generally inclined toward including popular participation as a governing principle, and came to power with the intention of transforming the clientelistic model of state-society relationships that had governed resource redistribution and investment policies in the city until their election. Mayor Ananias and Vice-mayor Célio de Castro were clear: they wanted to implement institutional innovations that would circumvent well-established conservative political brokers and bring citizens back into the decision-making process. It was thus under this government that the first participatory budgeting program was implemented, inspired in part by the model invented in Porto Alegre and adapted to the more conservative reality of the capital of Minas.

Institutionalizing Citizen Participation: Participatory Budgeting Since its reformulation in 1990, popular participation has become an overarching principle of the Lei Orgânica do Município de Belo Horizonte, following which the “executive power [has to] be organized along criteria of decentralization, regionalization and popular participation” (Câmara municipal de Belo Horizonte 1990, art. 18). This principle is, however, underspecified and leaves a lot of leeway to local politicians for implementation. There are two ways in which citizens can participate: indirectly, through representative forms of democracy; and directly, via referenda, popular initiatives, and, more importantly, participation with the public administration and oversight and control functions over the decisions of the municipality (Câmara municipal de Belo Horizonte 1990, art. 2.1–2.2). It is only under the PT government of Ananias (1993–1996) that the municipal government changed its focus to become more “radically inclusive” and “democratic,” suggesting a model of governance that would institutionalize citizen participation through participatory budgeting. Inspired by the successes of Porto Alegre’s experience, Ananias proposed adoption of PB in Belo Horizonte. His administration thus conceived a PB model adapted to the realities of the city that was meant to “answer the repressed demands of the population as well as allow a better control over municipal finances” (Ananias 2005, 40). At first, PB was implemented in Belo Horizonte as an annual process to which only a limited portion of the annual municipal budget was allocated. The PB process only included the traditional regional assemblies, conducted in the nine regiões político-administrativas (RPAs, Politico-administrative Regions) created in 1983,

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figure 7.1  Regional Participatory Budgeting Biannual Cycle—Project Definition, Belo Horizonte, 2008 source: Compiled by the author with information from promotional documents published by Belo Horizonte City Hall (Prefeitura de Belo Horizonte 2003, 6), academic contributions (Azevedo 2005, 117), and personal interviews with administration members responsible for the PB program.

each governed by a decentralized regional section of the municipal administration and composed of three to six subregions. As of 1996, however, PB was slightly reformed and readjusted to respond better to citizens’ demands and include more sectors of the population, notably the middle classes, who were not active participants in the program during the first years of its implementation. Two complementary elements were added to the traditional regional PB process in order to extend popular participation: PB Housing in 1996, and PB Digital in 2006. In order to avoid delays in project implementation, the regional process was reorganized over a two-year cycle that includes two phases: project definition and project monitoring and implementation. The first phase (see Figure 7.1) is the one that includes direct participation of citizens, organized in neighborhood groups or via the officially registered CSOs active in each community, especially the neighborhood associations. With these reforms, the government hoped to be better able to achieve the general spirit of the program, which remained the same, explained Mayor Fernando Pimentel in an interview:2 to facilitate incorporation of citizen participation in the decision-making process over budget-related questions of urban development expenditures and priorities. The reforms were, however, not followed by a consequent increase in the total share of the municipal budget subject to citizen deliberations and votes, which


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increased the already existing problem of lack of financial resources, as less than 5 percent of the total budget is discussed in the PB process. The first step generally takes place in April. It is the municipal opening, where the mayor invites all citizens and social and political actors to the inauguration of the PB process. As observed by Analice, the adjunct secretary of planning of Belo Horizonte,3 this first step is mostly political, as it does not involve active participation of citizens but rather their passive presence as spectators. It is from the second step of the process onward that the participatory dynamics really start, with the organization of the first and second deliberative rounds at the subregional levels. The first round is the moment when the general guidelines for demands and the methodology of the process are presented to the citizens, in subregional meetings. Contrary to other cases, such as Recife, the PB process in Belo Horizonte is highly regulated from the beginning, as the municipal administration provides guidelines within which demands should be formulated for each budget cycle (see, for example, Prefeitura de Belo Horizonte 2008). Those guidelines are defined, PB coordinator Dora explained in an interview, by the PB management committee, composed of both citizens and public servants.4 At this stage, the budget allocated to each of the nine RPAs is announced, calculated on the rule 50 percent of the total PB budget to be divided equally among the nine regions and 50 percent to be allocated in favor of the poorest areas according to the Indice de Qualidade de Vida Urbana (IQVU, Urban Quality of Life Indicator), an indicator of the levels of urbanization and urban poverty calculated per area (Avritzer 2005, 206). It is between the first and second rounds that the main mobilization occurs as demands are formulated at the community level through the autonomous organization of neighborhood assemblies, street meetings, and other forms of citizen gatherings meant to formulate priorities and convey demands for further discussion during the second deliberative round. In the second round, all the groups present their demands in subregional meetings, where citizens deliberate and choose a total of twentyfive works to be further evaluated by the municipality and where they vote for the delegates who will represent them in the later steps of the PB process. The delegates are elected according to a proportional representation system, where for every ten participants one delegate is elected by the participants present at the assembly. To avoid having too many delegates and disproportionate weight in regions where the general population participates more, the municipal administration has introduced quotas of delegates to be elected

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in relation to the total number of participants. Therefore, according to the 2009–10 methodology booklet produced by the PB coordination, the delegates are elected according to three principles: (1) one delegate per 10 participants, until a limit of 200 attendees; (2) one delegate per 15 participants in the 201–400 attendees interval; and (3) one delegate per 20 participants over 400 attendees. The representation system also includes an automatic seat for all officially recognized and registered community associations, which are guaranteed a de facto delegate when they participate in the first two rounds of the process (Prefeitura de Belo Horizonte 2008). Thus the first three steps of the project definition process indeed involve direct participation of the population, organized among neighbors or associations. The three later steps of the decision-making phase necessarily involve indirect participation: the delegates elected by the subregional assemblies participate in the last deliberations and vote on the final work plan submitted by the community to the mayor, representing the will of their neighbors (Azevedo 2005). After the technical evaluation and cost evaluation of all the voted projects are completed by the municipality, the regions organize the caravanas de prioridades, a one-day event where all the delegates from a given region visit the twenty-five preapproved projects in order to become more familiar with them before the final vote on the work plan, which will include only fourteen of them. As explained by Avritzer, the caravans are “a process of negotiation between the members of each community (or sub-regions) belonging to a given RPA” (2005, 206). These negotiations are then pursued through the regional assemblies, in which the delegates vote on the final plan of works (fourteen projects per region) that will be submitted to the mayor during the municipal assembly in December, the last step of the decision-making phase of PB in Belo Horizonte. In the second or monitoring and implementation phase of PB (see Figure 7.2), the delegates elected in each regional forum convene a Comissão de Acompanhamento e Fiscalização da Execução do Orçamento Participativo (COMFORÇA—Commission of Budget Oversight and Monitoring). This step comes after final approval, by all the legislative and executive branches of the local government, of the fourteen selected projects and their associated budgets. The regional COMFORÇA is the citizen-based organization that represents the interests of the community and, as such, oversees development and implementation of the selected projects in each region in the two years following their adoption by the community. It is composed


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figure 7.2  Regional Participatory Budgeting Biannual Cycle—Project Monitoring and Implementation, Belo Horizonte, 2008 source: Created by the author with promotional documents published by Belo Horizonte City Hall (Prefeitura de Belo Horizonte 2003).

of 20 percent of the delegates elected during the second deliberative round, and so the number of COMFORÇA members varies every year according to the number of participants in the PB process (Avritzer 2002). According to Fária, the COMFORÇA has seven main functions in the PB process: (1) accompany and oversee execution of the selected public works; (2) detail, complement, or substitute the public works chosen during the regional assembly, in accordance with the community’s will; (3) promote internal discussions with experts, organs, and entities to document internal decisions; (4) ask municipal administrators for clarifications on the executed works; (5) organize meetings with PB delegates in the subregions to report on execution of the budgetary plan; (6) designate two members to participate in the bidding process for approved projects; and (7) participate in organizing regional assemblies for the upcoming PB process (Feres Fária 1996, 103–4). Its mandate is thus diverse but mostly revolves around an oversight function. As explained by the adjunct secretary of planning: The regional COMFORÇAs have specific attributions for which they have to meet monthly with the regional administration and the municipal technical staff to accompany the implementation of public works. They receive a report; they oversee the work and accompany them systematically. They

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can also resort to any organ of the municipal administration to look for information about any problem in the course of the implementation of a project, or any technical problem. They can complain if there are execution problems. (Analice)

The COMFORÇA thus provides an institutionalized form of citizen control over the process, ensuring that the municipality complies with the work plan approved by the communities and their PB delegates in a timely fashion.

Autonomous Collective Action in t h e M a k i ng: Towa r d De mo cr at i z i ng Cooper ation Citizen participation has been institutionalized in Belo Horizonte, especially since 1993 with the implementation of PB. Though quite a few studies looked at the impact of PB in Belo Horizonte over the past fifteen years, particularly between 1993 and 2001, there is still confusion about the status of the city’s experience in the literature. Depending on the definition and indicators of success they look at, some observers qualified PB in Belo Horizonte as a successful experience, whereas others were far more critical of the program. Scholars such as Avritzer (2009b, 2002) and Souza (2001) tend to categorize it as successful, in terms of both its positive distribution effects on social inclusion and its strong deliberative nature. Wood and Murray (2007) also consider Belo Horizonte successful, as they argue that it opened space for participation and reduced the use of clientelism and political favors as a way to distribute resources. Finally, many local scholars tend to qualify it as a success in terms of continuity, social redistribution, and inclusion compared to other Brazilian cases, which exhibit more ambiguous results (Azevedo 2005; Boschi 2005). Other scholars are more critical in assessing the potential of PB in Belo Horizonte. Among them, Nylen (2002) argued that, once confronted with the “empowerment thesis,” the Belo Horizonte case cannot qualify as a successful experience because such innovations have not contributed to growth in the number of new associations and CSOs involved in the governance process. Wampler (2007) is also critical about the results of PB, classifying it as an intermediate case where he still sees many limits on PB becoming an effective societal


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accountability mechanism; the type of cooperation it entails limits CSOs’ use of contentious politics as a contestation strategy.5 To understand this lack of consensus in the literature, the comparison brings a new perspective to look at its transformative effect on state-society relationships. In sharp contrast to what is observed in all the other cases, Belo Horizonte can be considered a transformative one, fostering change in the clientelistic relationship that until then characterized state-society relationships. PB not only created spaces for collective mobilization to happen but, contrary to the case of Recife-PT, did so in a context enabling a significant increase in autonomy for participants instead of in a politically controlled environment disempowering organized groups. From clientelistic, statesociety relationships developed toward a model of democratic cooperation as PB became a public space for autonomous civil society actors to arise, strengthen their organizational capacity, and collectively demand inclusion through cooperation, while being able to make the local state (more) accountable and responsive in decision-making processes.

Mobilizing Organized Groups of Citizens Around the Common Good The goal pursued by Ananias with implementation of PB in Belo Horizonte was not only to improve the distribution of public goods to favor the poorest sectors of the city but also to empower these traditionally excluded actors to collectively formulate demands for their communities. In a context where civic associationalism was on the rise in Belo Horizonte (Avritzer 2000), the local PT government saw in PB mechanisms an opportunity to institutionalize this effort at organizing the masses and empowering ordinary citizens, providing the neighborhood associations and other CSOs with an institutional incentive for including deliberation and social mobilization in their demand-formulation strategies. A closer look at the current dynamics of mobilization reveals that, although previously oriented toward specific and fragmented individual needs and the use of personal ties to access power, PB institutions have contributed to changing the focus of local associations’ and leaders’ mobilization strategies toward collective action. The first indicator of the revitalization of popular mobilization is heightened participation after implementation of PB, something participant

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table 7.2  Number of Participants in Regional PB Cycles per Year, Belo Horizonte, 1994–2010 PB Cycle

Number of Participants*























source: Created by the author with data from the Plano Regional de Empreendimentos do Orçamento Participativo 2009/2010 (2010). notes: From 1999/2000, PB started to be organized over a 2-year cycle.

testimony gives a sense of: “popular participation increased a lot here, there is no comparison possible with when PB began” (Efigênia). The aggregate data on the number of participants in various instances of PB in Belo Horizonte since 1993 (Table 7.2) are quite revealing, showing a constant progression in the first few years of the process to a peak oscillating between thirty-five thousand and forty-five thousand participants every year since 1996.6 If the number of participants increased with PB, the nature of citizen participation also changed, as citizens become collective actors. In fact, the PB has augmented the number and diversity of social organizations mobilizing at the grass roots and involved in the deliberation and decision-making processes. In Belo Horizonte, PB combines the participation of popular associations (principally community associations) and other representative entities (religious, cultural, etc.) with that of doubtful and nonorganized citizens (Boschi 2005, 186). As observed by Arnaldo Godoy, a PT municipal councilor involved in the city’s social movements since the late 1970s:


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Not only participation is increasing, but they are more organized because before the PT [and the PB], what we had was a social movement without orientation. They were important but they were not part of the decisionmaking process, they were not organized as an instance of power. Today, the PB is an instance of power.7

Moreover, ordinary citizens are also formally invited to mobilize and present demands to the PB process “as long as someone forms a group, of a minimum of ten people,” says Afonso, a PB delegate and neighborhood association president, citing a form of collective and spontaneous community mobilization for which there was no institutional response before PB. Thus, as observed by the adjunct secretary of planning, PB does invite individuals to participate more, but it does so through emphasizing the role of community organizations and groups because the selection [of priorities] is made by all the population and the delegates are picked among the ordinary citizens, but there is always a portion of neighborhood associations’ representatives involved. Today, the representatives of neighborhoods from each region also enter as representatives of neighborhood associations. They are really active. (Analice)

This renewed importance of community organizations is confirmed by the coordinator of PB, who emphasizes their crucial role in mobilizing ordinary citizens and in helping them organize collectively in their communities: Community organizations have a central role for mobilization. However, the neighborhood meetings are open to the general population, so both organized and nonorganized citizens come. Associations and other groups also come. It is in these neighborhood meetings that all the demands are generally carried, and there starts the voting articulation process. They discuss how the vote will happen, a strategy that necessitates definition of the priorities for a given neighborhood. (Dora)

In fact, with the introduction of PB institutions in Belo Horizonte, the nature of mobilization moved away from its individual-based focus to become more inclusive, the neighborhood associations still playing a crucial role as mobilizing agents in the communities, making a “call for mobilization beyond the one done by the municipality through the radios, pamphlets, and all the communication means available,” says Analice, the adjunct secretary of planning. Rather than only acting as intermediaries between individual citizens’ demands and local politicians, community

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associations have become the central mobilizing agent in the PB process, “because if you don’t have a strong collectivity it becomes hard to publicize what’s going to happen and to get to the mouth-to-mouth that is so central to the PB process: I think that it is through this that a collectivity strengthens the others”, explains Claudia, PB delegate and COMFORÇA member. The new functions performed by community organizations could have, in theory, led to formation of more new associations and community groups in the city, as the empowerment thesis would suggest. Nylen (2002) argued, however, that most delegates active in the PB process in Belo Horizonte were already politically or socially active before program implementation. Though Nylen may not be objectively wrong, his understanding of mobilization does not account for the qualitative aspect. PB has promoted the diversity of interests represented and, in doing so, revitalized the associational movement in the city, creating incentives for dialogue among various groups and associations as well as mobilization opportunities for community leaders to reach the general population (Nez 2006; de Jesus 2004). As one PB delegate suggested: Because there was no way to get things through the municipality [before PB], we had to organize a bit here in the vila, but it was not easy. When they started the PB 15 years ago, we decided to form a formal association and to organize ourselves, to learn how to formulate demands, how to work with the municipal government. (Délia)

One of the main impacts of the PB exercise on community organizations and local CSOs is the fact that it changed the focus of their own perception of the demand-making process and, thereby, their mobilization strategies; as explained by Nylen himself, “PB stimulated a revitalizing democratization of local non-elite community groups and organizations, thereby fostering civic consciousness” (2002, 139). Rather than mobilizing individual citizens occasionally around particularistic demands that would benefit only them or the few people concerned by such demands, community leaders have learned to mobilize citizens collectively around issues identified as being of interest for the entire community. Although one of the limits of PB remains lack of social awareness in some communities that mostly remained preoccupied with filling their immediate needs, even in these communities the rise of social consciousness began to take root, a PB delegate and COMFORÇA member explained:


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At first I was participating because of the needs. Now, it’s not so much for the needs but for democracy. Seeing that my participation is worth something, via the transformation that is occurring through the democratic process that is PB. (Ana)

The process of defining public works, registering them, voting on priorities, and electing delegates to defend them in the long run thus created incentives for ordinary citizens to mobilize and for community leaders to sustain such collective organization initiative at the grass roots to generate mobilization processes that are oriented toward collectively defined policy interests. This new focus of mobilization processes not only contributes to developing organizational skills within communities, using a range of communications (including blogs and Facebook pages) to reach out to their members and keep them informed of the process but also contributes to fostering wider attempts at organizing civil society among communities. Whereas PB is often criticized for fragmenting neighborhoods as it places them in opposition to one another in a situation of few economic resources available for investments, the opposite situation also started to occur. In fact, in several neighborhoods community associations and local social movements mobilized together to support another neighborhood’s project. Discussions with Claudia and Rogério, community leaders from the Barreiro and Pampulha communities, among others, revealed a concerted and relatively new effort at generating intercommunity cooperation mechanisms related to the PB process in order to strengthen communities and CSOs in their relationship with the municipal government. For example, Rogério explains that in the Barreiro region, the neighborhood associations from Regina and Barros joined their efforts (and potential resources) during the 2009–10 PB exercise, mobilizing support and delegates to advocate creation of a health center in the favela Vila Lindéia: The two neighborhoods got together to support another one that has more necessities. We could have entered the process with any type of demand, like revitalization of a public place or something like this. We have some necessities here too, but Lindéia needed an appropriate health center. For that reason, they united. (Rogério)

Other examples of such types of interneighborhood/interassociation collaboration leading to collective mobilization and demand formulation are observed in the Nordeste region:

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The project that we will ask for this year is the urbanization of a small vila close from here, so we are not asking for something that will directly benefit the neighborhood but that will help a favela right next to here. [ . . . ] We are collaborating, with our votes, and we think we will succeed. (Afonso)

In such collaborative processes, community leadership and other social movements (like the church, in particular) play a central role in mobilizing support and participation, as they constitute the basis of such type of alliances and collaborations between communities. Thus PB has not only extended participation but also fostered a change in the already existing community organizations’ mobilization strategies, focusing on collective concerns. In a survey conducted by Avritzer in 1999 among eight hundred participants, 60 percent of the association members responded that before the introduction of PB they resorted to personal connections with local politicians and political brokers to gain access to public services and urban goods, a number that dropped to less than 7 percent after implementation of the PB model (2002). This finding is corroborated in interviews with PB delegates: according to most of them, personal connections are no longer needed to formulate demands and have access to the municipal government. One long-involved PB delegate explained: Before, to get to talk to someone in the municipal government, you needed to have that friend who was friend of a friend of a friend of someone who could introduce you to the person who would hear your request. And sometimes, even once heard, it did not resolve anything. We didn’t have this access that we have today. You could not talk to the mayor; today you can. This is the big change that has been brought by the PB. (Ana)

Another assessment follows the same logic: In Belo Horizonte’s society, now that it is starting to understand the importance of popular participation there has been an important diminution of clientelism because the population has started to understand through the process thanks to PB, to the collective mobilizations. (Efigênia)

Collective mobilization allowed by PB institutions thus generated a move away from traditional intermediaries, toward a more diverse and inclusive body of CSOs and participants, becoming a learning tool to lessen the use of personal ties and the prevalence of individual-based demands. It is, however,


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the conjunction of such collective action with the prevalence of autonomy for participants and groups that, in the case of Belo Horizonte, enables development of democratizing cooperation between society and the local state.

“Participation Is Social”: The Prevalence of (More) Autonomous Participation Observations about mobilization processes in Belo Horizonte are quite similar to the case of Recife-PT. Contrary to what we observed in Recife, however, the case of Belo Horizonte shows progressive gains in autonomy for community leaders—whose traditional interlocutors were local politicians in the unequal and discretionary public goods distribution process— in their relationship with the local state. Although Recife’s process proved to be permeable to informal practices of political cooption, PB institutions in Belo Horizonte have maintained their apolitical and autonomous status, giving CSOs the necessary room to maneuver in their relationship with the local state, gradually becoming central social actors and critical citizenbased accountability agents in the local governance process. The first indicator of PB participants’ level of autonomy is their selfidentification with reference to the main political parties, either as activists or as members of partisan organizations. In a survey conducted by Somarriba and Dulci with 832 PB delegates in 1994, data suggested that from the beginning of the program only a small portion of the delegates elected were affiliated with political parties, with the large majority (78.9 percent) not self-identifying with a party (1997). Interviews conducted in 2008 confirm this finding. Of course, when asked about their political preferences, delegates can express them as individuals and voters, but such preferences generally reflect the diversity of public opinion found in the community. A very active PB delegate who is also a member of the regional COMFORÇA in Barreiro characterized the process of deliberation and participation in PB meetings and negotiations as fundamentally nonpartisan, making such instances really different from the institutions of representative democracy: I think that what makes the community meetings different from institutional politics [the work of the councilors and deputies, for example], is that when the members of a community and their leaders sit together to negotiate, partisan ideology remains outside. (Rogério)

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He continues, explaining “such a thing [as partisan ideology] doesn’t enter the process of discussing the participatory budget,” suggesting that this autonomy in defining collective needs for the local communities is one of the main innovative and community-building enabling features of the PB process in Belo Horizonte: A thing that is particularly rich in the PB process, in the discussions, is that the interest of political parties, PT, PSDB, PFL, DEM, is not at play. There is nothing like this. What we have there is the interest of a community. Community groups and leaderships are autonomous from the parties, such a link doesn’t exist. (Rogério)

As noted by another interviewee, in his neighborhood “most members of the association are not affiliated to a party, and when they are, they are oriented not to use the name of the entity in their other participation activities” (Afonso). Thus, even in cases where participants and elected delegates do hold certain private political preferences, their work in deliberative meetings remains insulated from politically and ideologically oriented discussions, focusing on shared concerns for the community’s public good, which secures the autonomy of the decision-making process. Second, this autonomy is reinforced by the fact that the daily work of PB participants, delegates, and COMFORÇA members generally remains relatively independent from political activities and from traditional political brokers such as the municipal councilors. Conceived and understood by many councilors as a citizen-based space, PB discussions should (many think) stay outside of their sphere of action and therefore not participate in the citizen mobilization and deliberation steps of the process. As PT municipal councilor Arnaldo Godoy explained: I think it’s an opportunity for the population to discuss and learn and I think the presence of councilors inhibits the residents a bit. I don’t participate for this reason. I think it’s a space for citizens to choose and decide without the presence of the councilors, who already have their space in the chamber and in society in various occasions, whereas PB I think is a privileged space for the population.

The various PB delegates interviewed generally concur with the observation of the limited role played by municipal councilors in the PB process: “Municipal councilors only participate in certain steps of the process, they come to the opening and municipal forum, but in the ones that are more


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community-oriented they don’t come” (Ana). Though they often participate in the municipal opening, politicians and parties remain generally absent from the other rounds of deliberation and from the voting process, especially the ones organized directly by grassroots organizations with ordinary citizens and aimed at collectively defining the priorities to be put forward in each neighborhood. The fact that they are present at the opening is explained by the very political nature of such a grand event, the launch of the consultation process under the auspices of the government’s executive, which clearly uses this opportunity to take credit for the public service accessibility improvements and the generally positively perceived redistributional effects of PB (Wampler 2007). As explained by Afonso, however, “there is a consensus that none of this is the product of their work, they are there only as a form of support because they are part of the public administration, but everyone knows that everything that was obtained through the PB is not a triumph of politicians or municipal councilors.” The dynamics observed in the various PB and COMFORÇA meetings attended in 2008 (in the successive phases of the cycle) also confirm the accounts of the delegates and municipal councilors interviewed, as no politicians were present and the meetings were managed by the local regional administration and organized around the citizens presenting projects and discussing them with their fellow citizens. Of course it is not a totally universal position within the Chamber, and several councilors do participate in the mobilization process for the various social activities and community meetings surrounding PB (Wampler 2007). In fact, there is still a certain level of political party involvement in the process, notably through mobilization around councilors’ candidacies, especially during election times, but this phenomenon is far less generalized and entrenched in informal practices than what we observed in Recife. During elections, candidates visit PB delegates and COMFORÇA members because PB venues are a crucial space of social articulation and leadership that needs to be visited. Because of the delegates’ and COMFORÇA members’ monitoring and accountability capacities, some candidates for reelection even avoid participating in PB meetings during campaigns, as a PB delegate observed: They are even more held responsible for the problems of the city during election time, and so during the campaign, many don’t even come here in our meetings because they know that they will be made accountable for

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and questioned about public works that haven’t been accomplished yet and for which they have no solution. They don’t want to be made responsible for this so there is no advantage for them to come. (Mateus)

Moreover, many local CSOs and delegates who are asked for support at election time have a strict policy of independence that prevents them from giving it to any candidate, regardless of the party of relationship to the members of the associations: In times of election such as this year, some candidates will appear and will want to get support from us, but we don’t support anyone, we don’t allow that. It was always like this, not only under my presidency, but also under the previous administration. Our driving force is our independence. (Afonso)

Some exceptions to this rule might occur in certain neighborhoods, where delegates might agree to support politicians in their electoral campaigns and in mobilizing popular support through their influential positions in the community. Nonetheless, one can generally argue that over the course of the past sixteen years, this type of behavior has become more and more isolated in Belo Horizonte and generally remained dissociated from influencing PB. On the contrary, PB citizen-based institutions and their active members have become part of the democratic game, as they are today considered important social actors central to articulation of political preferences in the city over the years, and candidates from all parties need to show them support and listen to their demands as representatives of the communities in a democracy. The third indicator of autonomy is the nature of the functions performed by public servants in the planning service of the municipality, given the central coordination role they play in local coordination and organization of the PB process. Generally nominated by the executive team on the basis of political affinities, the public servants’ role in organizing and coordinating the PB’s different rounds and meetings is, however, framed and limited by strict rules preventing them from taking over the stage and manipulating the course of the discussions. Their involvement in the process was reported by most PB delegates as being very professional and is indeed only a facilitating one: they set up dates and spaces for the meetings to take place, help local CSOs publicize the events, explain the PB rules to the population in the first round, and receive proposals from the communities and monitor the proper functioning of the official subregional and


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regional meetings while registering participants and overseeing the voting procedures as necessary. Thus, in Belo Horizonte, participatory mechanisms remain autonomous from politics. PB institutions and their delegates are courted by politicians from all political allegiances during election time, but not captured by them. They are not extensions of the political arena where social leaders are coopted as in Recife or Neza. Rather, they are a relatively autonomous social force that is part of the social web, forming the society’s preferences and demands within the existing governance system, thereby making local government more responsive to local needs and accountable to its citizens. As a consequence of this newly acquired autonomy, the accountability function of CSOs, and of citizens more generally, has improved considerably. As a PB delegate explained, speaking of the local capacity to enforce results in service delivery and accessibility in her community: Now we can make them [the politicians] accountable. They comply with their promises, and they have people like me who make sure they do, who question them through their communities, through the COMFORÇA and the neighborhood associations. (Délia)

Participants’ autonomy varies and does not necessarily mean complete detachment of CSOs and citizens from the representatives of political society, who remain important interlocutors in the co-governance process. As was the case in León, there is still some maneuvering on the part of politicians who seek to be elected or reelected by the population in Belo Horizonte. Although mostly rejecting cooption as an electoral strategy, politicians and candidates do try to maintain regular contact with PB participants and delegates, formally visiting them during their meetings and sometimes even asking community leaders for their public support during electoral campaigns. Unlike in Recife, however, this is generally done in a democratic way that respects the electoral code and is not associated with clientelistic provision of public and private goods in exchange for political loyalty. Moreover, the increased ability of COMFORÇA members to hold politicians accountable for the investments promised through the PB process makes resource distribution even less susceptible to distortion for political use in targeted communities or as a tool for sustaining political loyalties among CSOs and community leaderships.

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Institutional Incentives, Actors, and Inter actions Comparison with the cases of Neza, León, and Recife reveals that, because it combines both a change in mobilization patterns and higher autonomy for participants, Belo Horizonte’s experience with PB can be qualified as transformative, where state-society relationships are close to the ideal type of democratizing cooperation. What makes the Belo Horizonte case different from the other cases we have studied previously? Institutional design in Belo Horizonte is different from the Mexican cases, and explains the change in the structure of incentives for collective mobilization that is made possible by the institutional reform. But despite sharing institutional similarities with the PT-Recife’s case, Belo’s PB transformative potential is higher in practice. From the comparison of cases within and across countries, evidence shows that the ability of Belo Horizonte’s PB to be transformative resides not only in the institutional architecture chosen but also in local actors’ strategies toward participatory mechanisms, determined by distinct sets of political incentives, power structures, and perceptions about the process, that are more similar to the ones found in León than to the situation observed in Recife.

Institutional Change for Collective Mobilization Historically, Belo Horizonte’s local neighborhood associations have been particularly active on the political scene. Yet mobilized citizens traditionally interacted with the state individually, formulating particularistic demands through the empowered local leaders’ privileged access to political brokers, granting this access in exchange for loyalty and support. As illustrated by the three other cases, the impact of this particular historical background of associationalism can be understood only in combination with the design and nature of institutional change. In the case of Belo Horizonte, the PB model’s specific features, essentially similar to those identified in RecifePT, played a central role in generating collective mobilization at the grassroots level. They provided the incentives for community leaders to change the focus of their mobilization strategies, to be in tune with the requirements of the participatory process. Such a change has had important longterm consequences for the ability of ordinary citizens to participate in the


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governance process, fostering development of collective organization skills and mobilization patterns in local communities. The PB program implemented in Belo Horizonte in 1993 includes formal mechanisms guided by the principle of universal participation. The objective of the program is to reach a mass-based audience, widening the scope of social mobilization to a larger population and greater diversity of CSOs. First, an important space is reserved for local CSOs as every recognized community association and civil society group participating in the two first rounds of the process has the de facto right to one delegate (Azevedo 2005), which ensures their representation in the decision stages of the PB process and gives them an incentive to actively mobilize citizens to participate. Second, another important feature of PB in Belo Horizonte is the requirement for citizens to present projects supported by organized groups of at least ten residents, who could then elect a delegate to represent them. This rule encourages individual demand makers to mobilize collective support within their community, either through the existing CSO channels or via spontaneously organized groups of residents. The universal participation principle underlying the PB program also led the administration to constantly innovate to make the program as inclusive as possible. The PB coordinator, responsible for the program since 1997, suggested that since its inception, the program, its instruments, and its role have been very flexible and adapted to the changing realities of an evolving understanding of participation: The understanding that there are no permanent or rigid models of popular participation is what orients the adoption of more flexible practices in the structure of PB in Belo Horizonte. In this practice therefore prevails a conception of participation as a principle of social control over the actions of the public power. (Gomes 2005, 64)

According to all of the actors interviewed, both social and governmental, there was always concern for extending participation to the largest possible public, so PB would become more and more inclusive and pluralistic as a mechanism for participation, including not only marginalized populations but also the middle classes so as to give the process a vision of the city in its entirety. Creation of the IQVU indicator as a redistribution criteria and of the sub-regiões especiais (special subregions) in 1999 in order to make the consultation process more universal, while making sure the PB resources are also distributed along objective criteria of social justice, is a good example

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of this. It was in effect designed by the local PSB/PT government of Castro for PB to have a fundamentally educational role for the population to gain understanding of the city’s problems, comprehension of the urban space as a whole. Although the index prioritizes needy regions for distribution of municipal resources, subject to PB deliberations and vote, creation of the sub-regiões, generally composed of middle-class neighborhoods, was an important innovation to extend the mobilization beyond the traditionally excluded sectors initially targeted by the PB program. To address the problem of low participation among the middle classes, these special subregions were also given their own share of the budget to ensure they were not outvoted by the poorer and more historically mobilized neighborhoods (Wood and Murray 2007). Similarly, PB Digital was recently implemented to include youths and the middle classes in the participatory process by allowing the population to vote for their preferred infrastructural project through an Internet platform. A close look at the deliberation and consultation process taking place during the PB cycle also reveals the presence of formal mechanisms allowing citizens to participate in the determining phases of the decision-making process, from collective definition of the communities’ priorities at the local level to the vote for final selection of investment projects to be presented to the mayor. As we have seen in the case of Recife, the fact that the vote for public works and delegates takes place in regional plenary assemblies where the general public is invited to participate makes social mobilization even more important. In fact, for a proposal to get through the first steps of the PB cycle, numbers are vital. Commenting about her role as a community leader in formulating demands through the PB process, one PB delegate explained: We need to mobilize our community to win the vote in the PB subregional and regional plenaries. We had three associations here in the vila, for each sector. We stopped working with three, mobilizing and uniting our forces to help and improve the community even more, and it worked. (Délia)

As Rogério added, “the more you mobilize [around a particular demand], the larger number of delegates you get and they are the ones who ultimately will vote for the budget in the third round.” Moreover, the participatory model developed in Belo Horizonte includes formal mechanisms for citizens to perform monitoring functions and make local politicians accountable, as it furnishes them with spaces in which to participate with the municipal administration


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during the postdecision phases of project definition and implementation. The regional COMFORÇAs, composed of elected delegates, assume a very important control function, as they are designated by their fellow residents to oversee the implementation phase of the PB projects voted in regional assemblies. Open to the public, the monthly meetings of the regional COMFORÇAs are an opportunity for members to oversee proper functioning of the implementation process, allowing them to monitor the bidding process, question municipal officials about potential delays in service delivery, and formulate complaints when necessary. As my observations in COMFORÇA meetings in August 2008 confirmed, the structure of such meetings, organized and led by the regional administrators of the program but directed by the elected citizen representatives’ questions, privileges deliberation and collective discussion among all the actors present over the issues at stake, reinforcing creation of a mutual and equal partnership between state and society actors. Finally, the existence of regional deliberative decision-making bodies such as the caravans and the regional forums is an important feature sustaining collective mobilization processes and interneighborhood cooperation and alliances organized around the PB process. First, as in the case of Recife, the municipality organizes priority caravans for the delegates to understand better the other public works proposals that will be submitted to a final vote in the next and last steps of the decision making. The caravans, taking place before the final vote, were meant to overcome the tendency of PB to create internal tensions among neighborhoods fighting for limited resources in the same region, explains the adjunct secretary of planning: One critique that had been made to the regional PB was that participants only had a vision of their own neighborhood, of their territory and not of the city as a whole. Thus, this process of circulating in buses, that is, the caravans, is important to perceive the other regions’ priorities, to see that many times the other neighborhoods are asking for things that are less important than others. It’s a way of somewhat creating a consensus. (Analice)

In fact, as observed by Somarriba and Dulci, the caravans were conceived as a way to give the deliberation and decision-making processes a more global overview of the city’s urbanization challenges, “diminishing the tendency, largely observed in the interaction state/communities, to formulate excessively localized and atomized demands” (1997, 397). Second, the regional meetings, where delegates are required to negotiate and deliberate with each other to determine the final selection of public works to benefit the entire region and

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not particularistic needs emerging from one region, are another important mobilization moment included in the PB cycle, fostering negotiations and creation of alliances between delegates. As observed by Azevedo (2005, 122), the fact that the delegates vote the budget priorities of the entire region allows negotiations and for the establishment of agreements between the community leaders and, as a result, the formation of groups of leaders who coordinate such negotiations.

Negotiations and alliances between delegates from many neighborhoods or subregions are a central element of regional forum preparation and meetings, a PB delegate emphasizes: “We make alliances, we look for partnerships to have our projects approved [ . . . ] this is why mobilization is so important, it needs to be well-done because if not, we don’t get to have delegates elected” (Ana). Such mechanisms contribute not only to generating mobilization opportunities within and among communities but also to the rise of community leaders’ consciousness of other regional necessities, and they foster collaboration in mobilization processes behind collective demands among neighborhoods within the same subregion. Thus the institutional features present in Belo Horizonte are generally similar to those found in Recife-PT, which highlights the critical role of institutional design in explaining the nature of mobilization processes. In both cases, formal incentives are included in participatory mechanisms for people to organize collectively to formulate demands, which aids overcoming the legacies of clientelism.

(More) Autonomy Explained In both Belo Horizonte and Recife-PT, the PT-designed initiatives have proven to enhance renewed mobilization patterns, strengthening the collective organization capacity of local CSOs and ordinary citizens. But they experience differing outcomes regarding the level of autonomy enjoyed by participants. In Belo Horizonte, PB participants remain relatively autonomous, while informal practices of cooption and political capture prevail in Recife-PT. What explains these diverging outcomes? Strong Leftist Alliances and Political Strategies for Participation  In Belo Horizonte, a city with a long tradition of conservative governments, the Left (embodied by the PT) arrived in power only in the 1990s. Contrary


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to the case of Recife, where there was lack of unity among the consecutive governing coalitions, the “array of united leftist forces” embodied by the Frente BH Popular was brought to power in 1993 through a tight alliance between the most important parties situated at the left of the political spectrum, an alliance that had the consequence of limiting political conflict within the Left and of sustaining a growing electoral and governmental hegemony of the PT as the driver of the coalition. First, the level of external political competition to the PT-PSB-led leftist coalition ruling the local government in Belo Horizonte since 1993 has declined over time, reaching a peak in 2004 when incumbent mayor Fernando Pimentel (PT) obtained 68.4 percent of the vote in the first electoral round. Though historically governed by the more conservative political forces, Belo Horizonte’s political arena has grown into a bastion of the PT and its political allies over the past decade, while the more conservative PFL and PMDB, inherited from the military rule, became more and more marginalized over the years. The absence of fierce competition among parties is also present in the daily administration activities of the municipal government, notably reflected in the relationships among parties within the Chamber of municipal councilors, the legislative body of the municipal government. In fact, the executive in power only rarely has to face opposition in the Chamber and generally sorts potential discontentment through political compromises and discussions, as explained by PT municipal councilor Arnaldo Godoy, in office since 1993: When the executive sends proposals to be approved by the Chamber, the PT constitutes the support basis for the mayor, but we discuss with the other parties, and there are no difficulties to approve projects respecting the city.

Though the PT itself has never held a majority elected in the legislative chamber, which could have created a tense relationship between the branches of the municipal government, a powerful opposition block has also never surfaced in the Chamber, which remains fragmented and weak. As explained by Godoy, the opposition here is very weak, it has no political force, no social basis, and so the councilors composing the opposition work on the basis of exchanges with the executive. There is no real opposition [ . . . ], they do not have a political or ideological basis, nor a social one to be able to front the government.

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One of the reasons explaining this is certainly the extreme fragmentation of the party system in Brazil. At the time of this study, the Chamber counted forty-one members belonging to seventeen political parties, many of them having only one representative elected. Contrary to what we have seen in the case of Recife, where the opposition to the PT coalition is quite organized within the Chamber, the tradition in Belo Horizonte is for parties to remain independent from one another in the Chamber. As explained by Autair Gomes, municipal councilor from the opposition party Partido Social Cristão (PSC, Social Christian Party), I would say that here in Belo Horizonte we don’t have an opposition per se because of this way of managing implemented by the local government [demonstrating high administrative capacity] and with this it basically brought a form of unanimity in the Chamber.8

Thus political parties generally do not form sustainable alliances or unified blocks at the legislative level to create real opposition to the executive coalition, which keeps them fragmented and disorganized, generally unable to contest executive decisions and propositions. The resulting fragmentation weakens the opposition, which becomes more sensitive to governmental pressures to approve the executive’s projects and policies, helping the mayor gather support from a majority of councilors in the Chamber even in a situation where the PT is in the minority. This fragmentation and lack of opposition to the executive is also reinforced by the dependence of the legislative branch on the executive, which is a characteristic of the Brazilian political system as a whole, explains PT councilor Godoy: “the relation between the executive power and the legislative is not an independent one; we are very submissive to the executive.” Such a political equilibrium between political forces, favoring the ruling coalition and the executive, has had consequences on how PB is supported and defended by the municipal councilors as a citizen participation initiative. Although in Recife both PT and opposition councilors show strong resistance to implementation of participatory programs, councilors in Belo Horizonte are less vocal about their potential opposition to PB. As suggested by Wampler (2007), not only was the leftist government able to maintain support within the centrist forces present in the Chamber, but the participatory program promoted by the PT administrations also concerned only one third of the new investment budget and was therefore not


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perceived as a threat to the authority of the councilors. Though it constitutes an intrinsic limit to the scope of PB in Belo Horizonte, the fact that it did not represent a threat for councilors is a key component of its successful implementation and institutionalization in the city, by allowing the executive to avoid opposition to the project. As Avritzer (2009b) notes, PB was a qualified effort to include citizens in governance processes and was never presented as a radical change in the conduct of politics, generating a general context of unity among political forces behind the program. The past leftist mayors have indeed been able to contain potential opposition to participatory mechanisms in the Chamber by accommodating potential disagreement from the beginning as well as limiting extension of PB budget and discussions to wider public policy issues. In this way, the context of low external competition and relatively harmonious legislative-executive relationships contributed to generate only limited incentives for political parties to antagonize PB, or for candidates and politicians to use its institutions and delegates as a tool to discredit the PT, attempt to coopt social leaders, and gather political support. Second, the low level of internal conflict within the PT and the ruling leftist coalition needs to be accounted for in explaining the dearth of incentives for political actors to manipulate PB delegates and instrumentalize program institutions for political purposes. As we saw in the case of Recife, the PT is by definition a party composed of various factions, and internal conflicts can impel local politicians to try using PB benefits to secure their alliances with community leaders and their base of popular support. The relatively decentralized organization of the PT in Brazil, however, allows local sections of the party to organize and form alliances without necessarily following national guidelines, and the case of Belo Horizonte has generally been one where the PT remained overall quite united behind its leadership’s decisions and political alliances. In Belo Horizonte, the contention of internal conflicts was critical to the stability of the party in power as the rise of the PT as a leading political force was closely linked to its capacity to secure a solid electoral and governing alliance with the PSB without making a formal political pact in the longer run. In such a context of constant negotiations and discussion over the governing alliance, “the PT leadership was accustomed to negotiating with other political parties” (Wampler 2007, 249), securing a certain level of harmony within the ruling coalition. Moreover, and though they appointed a PSB candidate for mayor

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in 1996 and 2000 (Castro), the PT always remained the leading political force behind the coalition: “the PT quickly became the dominant faction of the left-leaning coalition and kept its leadership in the PB” (Melo, Rezende, and Lubambo 2001, 149). So despite the fact that there was never a pact between the PT and the PSB sealing their tacit agreement (Avritzer 2009b), the level of support for the PB program remained relatively stable over the years and the local executive managed to maintain the coalition’s unity around the idea of participatory democracy. As a consequence of such unity within the governing coalition, PB institutions did not become a theater for internal political struggles for power, and they were never perverted into manipulated and coopted spaces for political interests to gain support as they were in Recife, for example. Moreover, the general cohesion within the ruling coalition leads to a certain level of continuity in the higher functions of the public administration, which is nominated by the incoming elected team. Such continuity is good for developing autonomy among PB participants as it ensures that bureaucratic support for the PB initiative remains high while allowing a certain level of knowledge accumulation about the program from public officials, as well as increasing bureaucratic professionalism around the organization of the process. Thus, similar to what has been observed in León and contrary to the cases of Recife and Nezahualcóyotl, where participation remained highly politicized, the combination of low external and low internal competition to the PT-led governing coalition created the conditions for autonomous forms of participation to emerge within the PB institutions. This political context indeed kept them relatively insulated from becoming spaces for continuing the partisan political struggles and from the political manipulation and cooption strategies that often derive from such situations. Civil Society: PB as a Pluralist and Inclusive Mechanism  Contrary to observations in the case of Recife, PB institutions in Belo Horizonte included all sectors of civil society, notably the older neighborhood associations that were directly targeted by the project, the local church-related organizations, and the leftist social movements closely associated with the PT consolidation in the city of Belo Horizonte. One of the first indicators of the existence of a pluralistic balance of powers among CSOs participating in the PB process is the presence of a certain continuity in the composition of the participating social sectors and


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organizations, preventing tensions from developing between the sectors making up the emerging civil society. Nylen (2002) has found that 80.3 percent of the respondents were already active in CSOs prior to their election as PB delegates, mostly in neighborhood associations (52.2 percent). As emphasized by a PB delegate, continuity has been an important trademark of community involvement in many neighborhoods of Belo Horizonte: Most of these people [who were involved in the struggles for democracy in the 1980s] are part of the current process of improving communities. So you have, for example, people who struggled for and made the political opening who are today working with us in the PB, together with the community. (Rogério)

The rise of the PT is associated with its close alliances with the various leftist social movements active in the city, which expected to be included in the model of governance after the election of the coalition in 1993 (Avritzer 2009b). Thus, most of the already-active neighborhood associations have supported the project of PB since the beginning and participated in its successful implementation, because they were primarily targeted as privileged interlocutors of the state in the design of the program, aimed at channeling residents’ demands for living-condition improvements. Another interesting finding revealed in Nylen’s study (2002) is the PB delegates’ prior involvement in religious groups (40 percent). The data point to the important role played by the Catholic Church in developing community organizations able to autonomously engage collectively in improving their communities. Traditionally sympathizers of the conservative political forces in Belo Horizonte, the main church leaders aligned with the PT during the redemocratization period. Though they contributed to building popular support for the PT-led coalition in 1993 (Bidegain Greising 1993), the pastoral agents and religious leaders generally mobilized their communities via the local CEBs in the hope of building an autonomous organizational capacity at the grass roots, as was the case in León, where the Catholic Church was actively present as well. The notion of continuity in CSO participation in the new channels provided by the PB process and the important role played by this traditionally autonomous actor in generating apolitical mobilization are both critical for development of a collective action strategy motivated by commitment to citizens and independence from state actors among civil society actors. In fact, it contributes to the accumulation of shared social

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and organizational knowledge among them, a key skill in a context of statesponsored participatory innovations. Continuity per se is, however, not a panacea as it could well have led to sustaining a model of particularistic relationships based on political privileges and turning social leaders into political brokers, as observed in Recife. Because many groups were closely tied to the ruling coalition to a certain extent, such continuity in participant makeup could have created a situation of renewed corporatism where new groups would be left out of the process, as they were not necessarily sympathetic to the project from the outset or were not associated with the leftist movements that had supported the rise of the PT. For this reason, the combination of continuity and opportunities for new participants to integrate into the PB institutions as civil society agents is central to developing autonomous and pluralistic participatory schemes within these institutions. Along with traditional actors, many new actors have therefore seized the opportunity to participate and formulate demands through the official channels of the state, such as community organizations, social and religious movements, local NGOs, and even spontaneous movements arising among residents of a community. The increasing diversity of social organizations, citizens, and interests represented in the PB process has had the result of diversifying the range of demands addressed to the local government while strengthening social inclusion by integrating previously marginalized sectors into the local governance process. Therefore, contrary to the observations made in Recife, it can be argued that the pluralistic nature of active CSOs is well reflected in the structure of participation embodied by the PB process in Belo Horizonte, where participants come from all sectors of civil society and interact with one another on the basis of a social partnership. Such a variety of participants could have created tensions if it had been accompanied by differentiated access to the participatory channels. In Belo Horizonte, however, CSOs were generally united behind the PB idea and were integrated by the municipal government as privileged actors in the process. As a result, PB did generate a need for cooperation among CSOs from the same community/region themselves, increasing the prospects for accumulating social learning and decreasing the likelihood of political manipulation, and also made it more complicated for politicians to establish cooption strategies owing to the variety of social interests represented in the large body of PB participants and delegates. Together, these elements


belo horizonte

contribute to the flourishing of an autonomous civil society, whose members coexist peacefully, learn from one another, and are able to constructively participate as demand-making and accountability agents within the state-sponsored public spaces manifested by participatory budgeting institutions. The Meaning of Participation: A Pillar of Social Inclusion  Participants and political actors do not always understand the meaning of participation in the same way, which affects how they perceive their own role in the participatory processes and how they interact with one another. In Neza and Recife, participation was mostly seen as an obligation, and participants were understood to be “extensions” of the local government in the communities. In Belo Horizonte, as in León, politicians, public officials, and participants have a mutual understanding of participation and their respective roles in the process, as equal partners in the common work toward greater social inclusion and equity. On the one hand, politicians’ and public officials’ perceptions of PB as the central participatory mechanism of the city governance model are closely tied to their understanding of popular participation as a pillar of social inclusion and decision-making processes. In fact, as Secretary of Planning Julio Pires explained in an interview,9 PB is considered by the executive team in place as a space to construct a model of governance that involves the legislative, the executive and the active social forces of the city in the common discussion about how to organize public policies in the municipality.

Moreover, most political actors interviewed, at the legislative, executive, and bureaucratic levels, share the idea that PB has become the main channel for citizens to formulate collective demands, imbuing these demands with legitimacy and force. Such an understanding of PB creates a favorable environment for citizens’ demands to reach their state-level interlocutors, and generates a climate of confidence about the policy results of a process that is necessary for citizens to engage fully without resorting to political connections and local brokers in the PB deliberative and decision-making processes. Moreover, as Mayor Pimentel emphasized, PB is conceived by the administration as a social and political learning tool, even though it does not necessarily reach the masses:

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PB is a mobilization tool, with the goal of promoting, valorizing and disseminating the popular participation thesis [ . . . ] It has a fundamental pedagogical function of forming leaders and people to keep public opinion permanently galvanized.

This understanding of participation also motivates the local government to give participants formation and tools for leadership and organizational capacity building through what Pimentel calls the “technical qualification of participation,” an important feature of PB in Belo Horizonte that we also found in the case of participatory planning in León. In fact, the municipality invests increasing resources and energy in fostering empowerment by organizing capacity-building workshops and other types of training sessions for the delegates to acquire the technical background necessary to assume their monitoring function. As explained by the program manager, Rúben, it is the role of municipal government to provide such education, as the sponsor of participatory mechanisms and by virtue of having the necessary resources for social training sessions to be organized for the delegates and the COMFORÇA members.10 This focus on PB institutions as a space for capacity building is an important element explaining the relatively high level of autonomy enjoyed by participants, who, through their formation and participation, acquire the skills necessary to be able to organize among themselves and develop their strength as collective actors, even within the channels provided by the state. On the other hand, delegates and other PB participants also take their representation and interest-mediation roles seriously, perceiving themselves as the spokespersons designated by their community to defend the common interests defined during the first rounds of the PB process and in the more informal community meetings organized locally. Through their action as PB delegates, they seek to achieve projects that will benefit their community, and feel entitled to formulate demands to the state and act as watchdogs to make sure the municipal government fulfills its promises. A delegate and COMFORÇA member involved in PB since the beginning of the program commented on her role in the community: The community leader is pointed out as such by a group of people and tries to do something good for his community, for the collectivity without trying to get something in return, or look nice, without hoping to become mayor or elected by him, without expecting to get a job out of it. He does so because he believes in doing so. (Efigênia)


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Though part of their work is done in collaboration with the local government, all the community leaders I interviewed were clear about their social responsibility as delegates, and even more as COMFORÇA members. In fact, many of them commented about the fact that they were responsible to their communities, and that as such they were always doing their best to carry and defend demands to the public authorities. Moreover, most of them were conscious of the importance of their social-mobilizer and community-organizer role in furthering autonomous and wide popular participation, as a PB delegate suggested: “I think it is essential that groups such as ours [community associations] remain active, it’s essential for the process of popular participation in decision making to continue.” (Mateus)

Thus, rather than understanding their role as delegates from the local government in the communities, as we observed in both Recife and Nezahualcóyotl, Belo Horizonte’s delegates clearly understood their own function as representatives of their community, responsive and accountable to its members. To conclude, in Belo Horizonte the institutional conditions enabling collective action coupled with the deep commitment of municipal authorities to respecting civil society’s autonomy reinforces the likelihood that participatory mechanisms will generate opportunities for new actors to be genuinely included and empowered as autonomous actors in the process along with more traditional social actors. This empowerment and acquired autonomy not only generates more accurate perceptions of civil society’s role as social mobilizer and equal partner of the state in the decision-making process but also facilitates the accumulation of social knowledge and organizing skills that, in turn, contribute to strengthening CSOs’ autonomy.

Conclusion This chapter shows that participatory democracy has had a transformative effect on state-society relationships in Belo Horizonte. Echoing Abers’ conclusions (1998) about Porto Alegre’s PB program, this case study shows that institutional innovation can contribute positively to the transformation of previous instruments of citizen demobilization and political clientelism (in this case, neighborhood associations) into tools of collective mobilization and grassroots demand-making processes. As suggested by a PB delegate,

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the creation of this collectivity, of this link because then you start to know other people, is better, it has a better quality [than other forms of mobilization]. I think it’s the principal gain we’ve made with PB, communicative people and a participative city are starting to really take form. (Claudia)

Going one step further, we see evidence showing that it is only when combined with an understanding of the actual practices of participation (level of autonomy) that institutional design institutions become fully relevant to assess the varying degrees of success. The low internal and external political competition with the PT coalition in power, combined with a pluralistic balance of power in civil society, mean that such institutions can become a space for autonomous forms of participation to grow and remain relatively free from politicians’ manipulation or cooption strategies. In fact, this balance favors deployment of autonomous collective action strategies within state-sponsored institutions and a generally positive and acute perception on the part of both participants and state officials of their role in the participatory process. Yet some exclusionary dynamics can still be observed in the PB process, as participation and mobilization processes related to public works and specific urbanization projects mostly empowered the poorest sectors of the society (Nez 2006). Many efforts have been employed to counter this tendency, such as PB Digital and creation of the special subregions in the middle-class neighborhoods. Though participatory programs continue to attract in great part the marginalized populations who most needed access to the local state and who are also the traditional electorate of the leftist coalition ruling the city since 1993, a conscious effort is being made to be inclusive and attract the middle classes who could have otherwise been marginalized by a program originally targeting the poor. Of course, it would be an exaggeration to claim that clientelistic practices of resource distribution have totally disappeared. The resources distributed through the PB deliberations are still limited by the model adapted to the particular and generally more conservative local context of Belo Horizonte, as well as by the fact that municipal councilors managed to keep a portion of the budget to be distributed according to their discretionary will. What is important to emphasize is that PB itself has remained insulated from such traditional practices in Belo Horizonte (Souza 2001), sustaining collective mobilization and genuine deliberations over community-oriented demands among participants who have managed to organize through diverse social organizations and, most important, autonomously


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from political brokers and from the agendas of political parties. In addition, the principle of social justice is at the center of the project, and the newly acquired capacity of social organizations and ordinary citizens to mobilize and organize to formulate demands autonomously and work with the local state toward their adoption, implementation, and execution (through the COMFORÇAs) does change the dynamics of social inclusion, sustaining the development of a more engaged and organized citizenry and strengthening of state accountability. As emphasized by the PB manager, “PB has a fundamental educational role for the population to get a notion of the city’s problems, a comprehension of the urban space as a whole” (Rúben). As a result of the participatory process and of its associated social learning, a long-time favela community organizer and PB delegate qualifies PB as a social inclusion mechanism: Thanks to the PB, we feel included and the municipal government now complies with our demands, the works are realized in the communities. And if not, we complain and make them accountable, which is the most important part: accompany the work and complain when it is not going well. (Délia)

This is echoed by another long-time favela activist saying that “the main gain from PB is the empowerment of the population, which we can call the empowerment of the citizen” (Efigênia). Overall, the Belo Horizonte PB model contributed to renewing the nature of state-society relationships and making them more cooperative through the interactions and discussions it encourages, thereby supporting democratizing governance processes in the city. Though they have some intrinsic limits, the design of the institutions implemented in Belo Horizonte has contributed to overcoming traditional patterns of individual and particularistic mobilization. They were, however, implemented and enacted by political and social actors in a context favorable to development of autonomous forms of participation, which strengthens the capacity of civil society to formulate demands, negotiate them with the municipal state, and then make local politicians more responsive and accountable.


Conclusion Comparative Lessons for Participatory Democracy Theory A democratic citizen must be an active citizen, somebody who acts as a citizen, who conceives of himself as a participant in a collective undertaking. — ch antal


In recent years, both Mexico and Brazil have undergone critical participatory democracy reforms aimed at “democratizing” democracy at the local level. Though adopted unevenly across municipalities, those reforms included citizen participation and control in the local governance model through formal mechanisms for channeling popular demands and including them in policy-making processes. Differing in design and functioning, the reforms nevertheless institutionalized participation through formal decision making and consulting mechanisms at the grassroots level. Despite this important effort by local governments to institutionalize citizen participation, the existing literature on the subject points to contradictory results: in some cases, participatory institutions seem to lead to a democratic deepening, while in others those same kinds of institutions seem to buttress authoritarianlike practices of clientelism and social exclusion. Yet there is a void in the existing literature, thanks to its failure to provide a comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding this variation. The goal of this book is to fill this void, using an innovative comparison of cases across and within countries, two in Mexico and two in Brazil. More specifically, I have examined five distinct experiences



with local participatory democracy reforms in four municipalities. Given the variation observed in both the type of mobilization (collective or individual) participatory institutions foster and the level of autonomy of participation (autonomous or controlled), there is a wider variety of outcomes than what is generally accounted for in the literature. Such variation can be observed across cases in different countries, as well as within each country, and my findings reveal that certain types of state-society relationships are more likely to lead to deepening of democracy than others. A unique theoretical framework, developed in Chapter 3, highlights the factors explaining such variations in the observed outcomes and guides this comparative approach. My findings offer important potential insights for understanding other cases and for designing participatory policies that will be more likely to achieve democratic deepening.

C om pa r e t o C l a s si f y: T h e Va r i e t y of State-Societ y R el ationships Starting with the assumption that democratic success should be redefined in terms of state-society relationships, it becomes apparent why various outcomes can arise from the complex process of transforming (or not) the way the state and society relate to one another through their interactions within institutionalized participatory mechanisms. Participatory democracy can affect the nature of state-society relationships through two main processes: the nature of the mobilization processes they generate, ranging from collective to individual mobilization patterns; and the level of autonomy such participation reflects, ranging from controlled to autonomous participation. On this basis, I have developed a two-dimensional typology for classifying cases (Figure 8.1). As the table illustrates, the five cases presented vary along both dimensions of the typology, all representing one of four ideal types: clientelism, disempowering cooption, fragmented inclusion, and “ democratizing” cooperation. Although none represents an ideal case, this reflects the fact that they entail combinations of mobilization pattern and level of autonomy, corresponding to various possible outcomes and confirming our initial assumption about the pluralistic nature of the state-society relationships that can emerge within participatory mechanisms. More specifically, I



High Fragmented Inclusion

Democratic Cooperation


Belo Horizonte


Disempowering Cooption

Level of Autonomy

Nezahualcóyotl Recife-PFL/ PMDB


Low Individual


          Type of Mobilization

figure 8.1  Typology of State-Society Relationships: Classifying Cases

argue that these outcomes can be understood in terms of two dimensions: mobilization, ranging from individual to collective; and the level of autonomy from the state that civil society actors enjoy, ranging from controlled to autonomous. When the level of autonomy is low and people are mobilized as individuals, the result is clientelism. My comparative case study has revealed that the cases of Nezahualcóyotl and Recife-PMDB/ PFL both exhibit patterns of controlled forms of participation that, combined with the prevailing individual mobilization patterns, have sustained clientelism as the primary mode by which the state and society relate to one another. When the level of autonomy is high and people are mobilized individually, the result is fragmented inclusion, as observed in León. This is a consequence of enduring patterns of individual mobilization, even though increasingly led by autonomous participants. When, by contrast, the level of autonomy is low and mobilization is collective, state-society relationships display the characteristics of disempowering cooption, as observed in the case of Recife-PT. After 2001, an important change took place in the type of mobilization fostered by the PB process, which became more collective in nature and was driven by demands for



achieving some form of common good. At the same time, however, the new mobilization dynamic was not sufficient for eliminating controlled forms of participation that survived subsequent changes in government and continue to characterize the participatory program. Finally, a situation where the level of autonomy is high and mobilization is collective, as in Belo Horizonte, most clearly approaches a case of “ democratizing” cooperation. In this case, the local PT government implemented PB in 1993 and has continued it without interruption since then. Collective mobilization is led by local CSOs, and autonomous forms of participation predominate in PB institutions.

E x pl a i n i ng Va r i at ion: Some Interpr etations What accounts for this variation among cases? What insights might they offer for understanding the sociopolitical conditions necessary for participatory democracy institutions to have a positive impact on the deepening of democracy through transformation of traditional local state-society relationships models? The findings from the five case studies suggest a twofold lesson. First, the design of the participatory institutions implemented is critical as it may foster either positive or negative incentives for collective mobilization to take place. Second, the strategies and behaviors of both state and society actors interacting with one another are vital to understanding how they appropriate and enact participatory institutions. Three factors influence these strategies and behaviors, thereby affecting the level of autonomy observed in the practice of citizen participation and deliberation over public policy. Autonomous forms of participation are more likely to develop within participatory mechanisms in contexts where (1) the level of political competition among political elites is low and the ruling party or coalition is not challenged, (2) there are pluralistic civil society organizations representing all sectors of society participating together in the institutions of participatory democracy, and (3) state and society participants share a similar perception of their distinct but complementary roles as either facilitator for citizen participation or representative of the larger public will in the process. This is summarized in Table 8.1.


Fragmented Inclusion




Recife-PMDB/ PFL

State-Society Relationships

• Low incentives for deliberation • Fragmentation • Low incentives for organization

Individual Mobilization

• Low incentives for deliberation • Fragmentation • Low incentives for organization

Individual Mobilization

• Low incentives for deliberation • Fragmentation • Low incentives for organization

Individual Mobilization

Institutional Design

Mobilization Patterns

• High external competition • High internal competition (PFL/PMDB)

• Low external competition • Low internal competition (PAN)

• High external competition • High internal competition (PRD)

Partisan Competition

table 8.1  Explaining the Variety of State-Society Relationships: Comparing Cases

• Exclusion & conflict among CSOs • Party-affiliated organizations as central actors

Controlled Participation

• Increased pluralism of civil society • Church as a central actor

Autonomous Participation

• Exclusion & conflict among CSOs • Party-affiliated organizations as central actors

Controlled Participation

Configuration within Civil Society

Nature of Participation


• Participation as supporting state action • Citizens work for the state

• Participation as learning process • Citizens work with the state, for their fellow citizens

• Participation as supporting state action • Citizens work for the state

Meanings of Participation

Disempowering Cooption

Democratizing Cooperation


Belo Horizonte

State-Society Relationships

• Deliberation mechanisms • Intercommunity collaboration • High incentives for organization

Collective Mobilization

• Deliberation mechanisms • Intercommunity collaboration • High incentives for organization

Collective Mobilization

Institutional Design

Mobilization Patterns

Controlled Participation

Configuration within Civil Society

• Low external competition • Low internal competition (PT)

• Increased pluralism of civil society • Church as a central actor

Autonomous Participation

• High external competition • Exclusion & conflict • High internal competition (PT) among CSOs • Party-affiliated organizations as central actors

Partisan Competition

Nature of Participation

table 8.1  Explaining the Variety of State-Society Relationships: Comparing Cases (continued)

• Participation as learning process • Citizens work with the state, for their fellow citizens

• Participation as supporting state action • Citizens work for the state

Meanings of Participation



Institutions Matter: Explaining Differentiated Mobilization Patterns My findings about contrasted mobilization patterns in four cities with comparable histories of social mobilization reveal that the institutional design of participatory mechanisms is an even more important variable to consider in the long run as it can reinforce or undermine past patterns of mobilization. Despite the existence of a culture of social organization or associationalism organized along clientelistic lines in all four cases, mobilization patterns did change when other factors predominated. The case of Recife is particularly revealing in this respect, as the variation in the mobilization patterns observed through our in-case comparison of the two PB experiences implemented in the same context—marked by a tradition of individual mobilization and clientelism—controls for this variable in explaining change. Although I found indicators of the persistence of traditional individual mobilization patterns in Recife-PMDB/PFL, the second PB experience (Recife-PT) shows how mobilization patterns became more collectively oriented after the PT reformed participatory mechanisms in 2001. These differences in mobilization outcomes between two experiences located in the same city draw our attention to the importance of institutional design in fostering the incentives that frame mobilization. In particular, in contexts where mobilization is traditionally defined by its individualistic and particularistic nature, the presence of institutional features for deliberation among citizens and for requiring collective organizations to formulate demands is more likely to create incentives for collective mobilization organized around definition of the common good and to occur within decentralized participatory institutions. Participatory democracy mechanisms have taken differing institutional forms across countries, and these differences also inform the study of local mobilization since, as I argued earlier, social action and interactions at the grass roots are influenced by the institutional context within which they are taking place. Here again, the comparison between Recife-PMDB/PFL and Recife-PT is revealing, as I find that an important institutional reform between the two PB periods—with the second one including incentives for collective deliberation, organization, and intercommunity collaboration— explains the subsequent change in mobilization patterns. This finding about the particular case of Recife is also consistent with the comparative



findings made in the other cases. The similarities between the institutional features found in the Belo Horizonte and Recife-PT participatory models, both formally encouraging deliberation, organization, and intercommunity collaboration, show that the institutional design of the participatory framework creates incentives for local leaders to collectively mobilize at the grass roots. Conversely, in cases where they were not present, as in Nezahualcóyotl, León, and Recife-PMDB/PFL, continuity in the observed mobilization patterns after implementation of participatory democracy reforms reflects the fact that the current institutions do not provide the necessary incentives for change through deliberation, collective action, and local organization. It is, however, important to go beyond the mobilization-or-institutionaldesign argument to understand the complexity of state-society relationships, which are also defined by the actual practices and sociopolitical context within which they are taking place. The common wisdom would generally suppose that, because the Brazilian PB institutional model is more conducive to collective mobilization outcomes at the grass roots, it should be more successful than the Mexican model at empowering civil society and contributing to the deepening of democracy. My results, however, invalidate this assumption, showing that under certain sociopolitical circumstances institutional designs encouraging individual mobilization processes can have a better prospect of sustaining democratic practices and state-society interactions.

When Context Matters (Even More): The Sociopolitical Determinants of Autonomy As I have argued, focusing only on mobilization as an indicator of success overlooks a central defining feature of democracy: the nature of state-society relationships, which are defined not only by mobilization patterns but also and most importantly by the autonomy of social actors. It is indeed necessary not to reify the importance of collective mobilization at the grass roots as a sufficient measure of democratic deepening for a specific participatory design. This is particularly clear from the comparison between Recife-PT and León. Although the model developed in León encourages a more individual and fragmented form of mobilization than in Recife-PT, it is still more promising in terms of its transformative potential



for state-society relationships. This is because in León’s case there is greater capacity for social actors to autonomously formulate demands through the democratic and transparent channels of representation. In contrast, RecifePT’s PB experience promotes collective organization in a context where the prevalence of informal practices of the political control of PB delegates and CSO participants compromises the prospects for civil society to be empowered as an autonomous actor in its relations with the local state. The comparison demonstrates that, first, mobilization counts in explaining transformations of state-society relationships, and more important, the level of autonomy is a central dimension of civil society’s ability to enter into the social construction of citizenship and of that society’s strength as an accountability agent before the state, a dimension that only contextual factors and in-depth process analysis can fully capture. Moreover, the contrast in autonomy levels found in Recife-PT and Belo Horizonte, in which cases the leftist coalition led by the PT was the leading political party that promoted and implemented PB, suggests that party ideology is also not a sufficient condition to explain success. Going beyond this common idea1 and emphasizing the primacy of sociopolitical factors, I propose an explanation framed around the complementary and mutually reinforcing notions of political competition, social conflict, and actors’ perceptions. Contextual indicators providing information about how both state and society appropriate and use the formal and informal channels of participation made available through participatory democracy reforms are essential for understanding their strategies and behaviors toward one another, explaining the varying level of autonomy enjoyed by participants in the decision-making process. The first contextual variable studied was the impact of the level of political competition among elites, both within and between political parties or coalitions, a variable that encompasses the notion of political will in a more nuanced and contextual manner, highlighting the strategies behind the elites’ level of support for citizen participation. My findings confirm the hypothesis that a high level of both internal and external political competition leads to greater need for popular support, in turn fostering incentives to politicians who privilege informal practices in the way they participate and address the demands received through formal participatory channels, using and coopting their participants as a mechanism to reach the population and secure their own legitimacy and political survival at the expense



of their political adversaries. More precisely, I have found that a highly competitive context offers incentives for politicians to circumvent formal rules and use cooption strategies that curtail participants’ autonomy in the deliberation and decision-making processes within which they are involved with the local government. Indeed, because they need to gather political and electoral support to be reelected in a context of political pluralism, political parties and politicians tend to resort to traditional practices and control participatory mechanisms when they are electorally challenged. More importantly, internal competition and lack of unity within the governing coalition or party, observed at the twin levels of internal party relationships and relations between the executive and legislature, are even more determining aspects explaining the prevalence of the use of informal practices by elites, who instrumentalize participatory programs as a way to maintain a certain popular legitimacy to secure their leadership position within the governing coalition. The cases of Recife-PMDB/PFL, RecifePT, and Nezahualcóyotl represented highly competitive electoral contexts, which were even more competitive within the ruling parties or coalitions. As a consequence, in these three cases the autonomy of participants was continuously challenged by the fact that participatory institutions became a space for continuing the political struggles among parties and factions rather than for allowing interactions between the local government and an autonomous civil society. The relatively low level of political competition observed on both accounts in Belo Horizonte and León, where participation has proven to be more autonomous, also confirm my hypothesis, as politicians did not deploy strategies to circumvent formal rules and transform the participatory space into a political one under their control to dispute political support. The second relevant contextual variable is the balance of power within civil society. The hypothesis, confirmed by my comparative analysis, was that a pluralistic civil society united behind the ideal of participatory governance and reflecting the various sectors of society in a participatory context that accommodates both old and new forms of social organization and that does not create unequal access to the state leads to more inclusive, coordinated, and integrated participation patterns. These patterns, in turn, are more likely to sustain the autonomy of organized civil society within the participatory mechanisms. The two cases showing greater autonomy within participatory institutions, Belo Horizonte and León, reflected



higher pluralism within the participating civil society or among individual social actors, including and accommodating both more traditional and new actors through undifferentiated access to power resources and structure. An interesting finding that would need further exploration is the role of the Catholic Church in fostering autonomous participation from CSOs and resident groups and in contributing to the accumulation of organizational and cooperation skills in León and Belo Horizonte (traditionally conservative cities). In these cases, it seems that the church has become an important and autonomous agent able to gather the population independently around the formal participatory process, understood as a channel for transparent and direct representations of citizens’ interests. Conversely, in Nezahualcóyotl and Recife, though historically important as a mobilization agent, the church was not as present to sustain the population’s engagement within participatory democracy institutions. In fact, in these cases, the rise of often party-affiliated organizations and social movements active within the formal participatory institutions was more closely associated with the growth of the Left and its inherent divisions. Moreover, in the latter cases (Nezahualcóyotl, Recife-PMDB/PFL, and Recife-PT) we have observed several sources of conflict among civil society actors around informal access to power and politicians, generating the conditions for certain sectors of society to remain excluded from participating in the consultation and decision-making process, extending the possibilities for political capture and control through the practice of CSOs and local leaders’ cooption. The third explanation that has been taken into account relates to the notion of both social and political actors’ perceptions of their roles in the participatory process. Here again, our comparative investigation confirmed the hypothesis, following which the autonomy of citizens participating is more likely to be strengthened when state representatives value citizen-participation as a governing principle and when citizens see themselves as the guarantors of their neighbors’ and fellow citizens’ interests and demands, because the actors enter into the participatory decision-making process as equal partners. A situation where state actors perceive citizen participation as a form of support to state action, while citizens understand their role as working with (and not for) the state as their fellow citizens’ representatives, was found in Belo Horizonte and León, fostering an increased role for formation and training and greater commitment from the state to respect participants’ autonomy in the participatory institutions. The opposite situation



has been observed in Nezahualcóyotl and the two Recife experiences, generating apathy among the public and allowing greater political control and cooption strategies within the institutions of participatory democracy. Thus the combined effect of these three sociopolitical variables and their interaction effects confirms the theoretical assumption following which, beyond institutional design, sociopolitical context also matters for explaining the transformative potential of participatory democracy on state-society relationships.

Implications for Participatory Democracy Theory The comparative case study conducted in this book shows how different types of state-society relationships have emerged or endured as a result of participatory democracy reforms. What does this diversity in outcomes mean for the deepening of democracy at the local level? What are the consequences of each model for the prospects for institutions of participatory democracy to actually become “democratizing”? Taken together, the two dimensions that define what I call the cooperative model of state-society relationships—collective mobilization and autonomous civil society— which was found in the more successful case of Belo Horizonte have the greatest prospect of leading to the deepening of democracy compared to the other models presented in our typology. In Belo Horizonte’s PB program, the combination of a change in the focus of mobilization patterns in the city and the increasing autonomy enjoyed by CSOs and other participants in the participatory process has contributed to transforming traditional clientelistic interactions into a model of equal cooperation between actors from both the social and the political spheres. As a consequence, we have observed the blossoming of democratizing governance practices that helps ensure that ordinary citizens—including the previously marginalized—are included in the social construction of citizenship regime. This results in better access to citizenship rights while strengthening their inclusiveness through more effective accountability mechanisms. In contrast, in the least successful cases of Nezahualcóyotl and Recife-PMDB/PFL, continuity on the mobilization and autonomy dimensions has meant that formal and informal mechanisms alike contribute to maintaining and even reinforcing the clientelistic relationships that traditionally prevailed in the two cities, curtailing their prospects for the deepening of democracy.



The intermediate cases of Recife-PT and León are particularly interesting in this regard. They represent characteristics of both change and continuity on the two dimensions. The traditional dichotomy between cooperation and clientelism is insufficient for understanding the full range of state-society relationships. As suggested by the results of the Recife-PT and León experiences, respectively, there are two other potential outcomes: disempowering cooption and fragmented inclusion. In Recife-PT, instead of becoming empowered as autonomous partners of the local state, CSOs participating in the PB process remain state-dependent social actors mobilized for political parties rather than for their communities, constituting an important limit on CSOs’ ability to engage actively as accountability agents and partners of the local state in the social construction of inclusive citizenship regimes. In León, though individual mobilization hinders development of an organized civil society at the grassroots level, the fragmented inclusion model does constitute an important transformation of traditional state-society relationships, increasing service delivery efficiency and, more important, contributing to extending social inclusion to previously marginalized sectors of the population. This is why León represents a higher level of democratic deepening than Recife, and an important area for future research would be to explore the potential of fragmented inclusion to become transformed into the kind of collective mobilization that is found in Belo Horizonte and that is essential for maximizing democratic deepening. Most importantly, these nuanced findings show that, as the differences in outcomes between our intermediary cases suggest, autonomy is a central feature of democratizing state-society relationships because it can positively or negatively interact on the nature of social mobilization. The fact that in León autonomous participation from all sectors of the population is now encouraged through the local participatory governance model reduces the negative impact of individual mobilization patterns for state-society relationships and the deepening of democracy, while remaining a limited model compared to Belo Horizonte. In Recife-PT, in contrast, the context of political control over participation reduces the impact of social mobilization becoming more collective and organized, because the lack of autonomy and the cooption strategies deployed by local authorities contribute to disempowering organized groups, limiting the impact of their collective action by making them dependent on informal ties with political parties



and public officials. These findings reveal that the individual mobilization of autonomous participants in León is still more promising in terms of social inclusion than collective mobilization through controlled leaders in Recife-PT because it can contribute to inclusion of previously marginalized and transformation of traditional clientelism. It offers the promise of reinventing itself within the new participatory institutional framework or taking place within other municipal spaces that are not covered by this study. Whereas the nature and intensity of social mobilization has generally been the focus of previous studies in participatory democracy, given its focus on associationalism as the indicator of greater civil society vitality, the theoretical contribution presented here reaffirms the centrality of autonomy as a defining feature of social action for civil society to be able to enter the social construction of citizenship while making the local state accountable.

Conclusion Participatory democracy is certainly a new feature of democratic development and has been on the scholarly and policy agendas for more than two decades, especially in Latin America. Theoretically speaking, participatory institutions can be an important aspect of revitalizing democratic practices at the local level. They are, however, not a panacea. On the one hand, institutional innovation in itself is not sufficient for understanding democratization processes. Democracy is about getting the institutions right, but it is also about getting state-society relationships right. These are complex, and determined as much by the formal rules as by the informal ones— the actual practices, behaviors, and strategies of both social and political actors whose interests are influenced by the particular sociopolitical context within which they evolve and interact with one another. On the other hand, institutional innovations such as the ones discussed for Mexico and Brazil may also be limited for democratic development, thanks to the inherent paradox they entail. In Latin America and elsewhere, participatory democracy innovations are often designed to reach the poorest segments of the population and increase their access to basic services. However, they often fail at encouraging creation of a “civic community,” of a sustainable and active form of social organization that sustains the exercise of democratic citizenship. Although participatory institutions



can engender increased participation and better access to urban services (Abers 2000; Avritzer 2002a; Wampler 2007; Canel 2001), they often do so following a fragmented and individual demand-basis logic, as we have seen in Recife-PMDB/PFL, León, and Nezahualcóyotl. Even in cases like Belo Horizonte, where participatory experiments are fostering greater cooperation between the state and organized civil society, one can find heterogeneous models of community building at the neighborhood level. The source of the paradox lies in the fact that, in general, the type of participation encouraged through these mechanisms is geared toward resolution of concrete and immediate problems; this means that, once they are resolved, there may no longer be incentives for further participation as a community (Cabrero Mendoza 1995). This type of participation, oriented toward shortterm goals and very local needs, is not necessarily favoring the emergence of civil society leaders mobilizing on the basis of the population’s civic awareness (Wood and Murray 2007; Wampler 2007). Under these circumstances, participation can become a consumption strategy for groups and individuals who ask the state for public services that would not otherwise be available to them (Oxhorn 2010). In fact, it has been argued that CSOs participating at the local level use the participatory institutions primarily as a strategy to influence allocation of public resources, and to extract benefits from the government (Grindle 2007), and that participatory institutions have a limited effect on the capacity of civil society to self-organize (Baiocchi, Heller, and Silva 2008). Moreover, though it is suspected that it might have the potential to do so when collective mobilization processes are observed (Wampler 2007), it is not yet clear whether institutionalized participation contributes to fostering bonding horizontal ties and trust between participants, which require face-to-face and recurrent interactions among members of a community (Putnam 1993, 2000). The latter issues, which were beyond the scope of this study, do raise important new questions on participation, civil society, and citizenship. To conclude, it is important to note that despite their inherent limits, the institutions of participation that have been implemented in Belo Horizonte, Recife, León, Nezahualcóyotl, and several other cities across Latin America constitute an important political innovation for citizens as they give voice to individuals and groups representing sectors of the population that were traditionally excluded from the political arena in both Mexico and Brazil, but also in most countries of the region. Their existence



constitutes a significant advancement in itself in terms of social inclusion of the poorest sectors of the population, who have now better access to otherwise unavailable urban services (Touchton and Wampler 2014). The question that remains is, How can policy makers and citizens maximize the potential positive effect of successful experiences such as Belo Horizonte and León on governance outcomes and civil society organizations, despite their limits as identified throughout the study? How can current participatory experiences be improved and their inherent limits minimized in a way that fosters participation as citizenship and not as shrinking the state where the market becomes a surrogate arena for citizenship (Dagnino 2005)? How can participatory institutions become a space for community building, where social organizations remain organized beyond the participatory process and short-term concerns? Bringing back the idea of the citizen at the center of the democratic project in Latin America constitutes an important step in the long-term process of raising the democratic consciousness among leaders and the population. Future research should therefore start from the approach to participatory institutions presented here in order to respond to the previous questions, and ultimately to understand better the logic behind construction of active civic communities able to work with the political community to achieve the common good, but also to use contentious politics and accountability mechanisms against the state when necessary.


Chapter 1 1. In the empirical analysis, the case of Recife is considered as two cases with distinct experiences of PB, one led by the PFL/PMDB coalition (1993–2000) and one by the PT-led coalition (2001–2008), as there are significant institutional differences between the two models to look at as being distinct. This not only increases the number of observations but also offers a unique opportunity to include a comparison over time to the comparison across municipalities. 2. A distinction is made between the two periods of PB in Recife: prior to 2001, where the first model of PB was implemented by the conservative coalition in government (Recife-PFL/PMDB), and after 2001, when the PT took office and implemented the current model of PB (Recife-PT). Such a distinction between the two experiences in local participatory democracy is made as the two programs contain enough variation in both their nature and outcomes that it allows us to add an in-case comparison that significantly adds to our case selection by providing two cases with identical background conditions. 3. The names of the interviewees have been changed for reasons of confidentiality, but their functions and neighborhoods are the same. 4. The cabildo is the municipal council in Mexico.

Chapter 2 1. According to their definition, the first dimension of citizenship, rights and responsibilities, includes what the state owes to its citizens; what they owe the state and each other in terms of civil, political, and social rights; and the associated responsibilities. The second dimension, access, is closely tied to the first one: citizens need concrete means of accessing those rights, to exercise them. The third dimension, belonging, relates to the boundaries of inclusion-exclusion within the political community: the state is crucial in determining those boundaries,



contributing to the development of a political identity among members (citizens) of the same community (Jenson and Papillon 2001). 2. The definition of civil society used, however, explicitly excludes business groups whose activities are mainly profit-seeking, and “uncivil” criminal groups using violent means to achieve their goals, acting without regard for the rule of law and outside of the political process. In fact, groups within an inclusive and democratic civil society should be able to peacefully coexist, which means its groups should agree on the idea that violence is an unacceptable type of social interaction. 3. Heller introduces a useful concept to recenter the democratic debate on what he calls effective citizenship, which refers not only to the status of citizenship (rights) but also to its practice, i.e., the actual ability of citizens to engage with the state, which is intimately linked to the deepening of democracy (2012). 4. We use the term ideal type, borrowed from Weber’s work, to emphasize the idea that the four types identified here are ideals: they represent the purest form of each relationship, which are unlikely to exist as such in reality. They accommodate, however, a clearer classification and understanding of the differences between the cases encountered in reality. 5. Wampler’s study of participatory budgeting in Brazil goes in this sense, showing that the mobilization of individuals (by opposition to CSOs) in participatory mechanisms often continues to resort to personal and direct connections to government officials (2012). However, mobilization is only one dimension of state-society relationships, and collective action can also become an exclusionary process when coopted through political control practices, a reality the two-dimensional typology of state-society relationships grasps.

Chapter 3 1. This observation about the traditional “priista” patterns for distributing resources among its supporters and via political brokers was expressed in most of the interviews conducted during fieldwork in Mexico, especially by citizens when asked about how they had access to urban goods and services before implementation of participatory channels. This is equally true for citizens met in Nezahualcóyotl and in León, and will be covered in greater detail in Chapters 4 and 5. 2. In 1983, de la Madrid adopted a reform of Article 115 of the Mexican Constitution, which decentralized fiscal and administrative power to the municipal level and clearly established the autonomous status of the municipalities, stating that “all municipalities will be granted juridical personality” (Estados Unidos Mexicanos 1917 [2005], art. 115–2), and defined their areas of jurisdiction. The 1999 reform implemented under Zedillo deepened the one of 1983, officially granting municipal governments the autonomous status of third level of government, clarifying their competencies, and delimiting their power (Guerrero Amparán and Guillén López 2000; Guillén López and Ziccardi 2004). Combined with the conditional fiscal transfers to municipalities included in RAMO 33 (Fondo de



Aportaciones para la Infraestructura Social Municipal or FAISM, Grant Fund for Municipal Social Infrastructure) and the Fondo para el Fortalecimiento Municipal (FORTAMUN, Grant Fund for Municipal Strengthening), the new status gave municipalities the possibility to raise their property tax revenues, giving them the ability to assess property values, thereby increasing their fiscal autonomy states (Courchesne and Díaz-Cayeros 2000).

Chapter 4 1. Irregular pieces of land located on unplanned terrain lacking basic urban services such as water and drainage and peopled with residents living under extremely precarious conditions (Connolly 2003). 2. The selling acts found in the city archives show that most of the seven thousand lots that were sold during this period by the state government went for very low prices to “friends of the revolutionary regime,” among them many national political and military leaders (Espinosa-Castillo 2008). 3. For more on the process of city formation in Nezahualcóyotl, and the associated struggle for autonomy led by PRI, see Alba Muñiz (1976, 78–89). 4. See Alba Muñiz (1976), Duhau and Schteingart (2001), Arzaluz Solano (2002), and Selee (2011). 5. These local organizations included, among others, the Unión de Locatarios (Union of Renters), the Cámara de Comercio (Chamber of Commerce), and the Associación General de Colonos (General Neighbors Association). For a detailed enumeration of the CNOP members, see Duhau and Schteingart (2001, 184). 6. The 2009–2012 administration constitutes an exception to this rule, as the PRI/PVEM coalition led by Edgar Navarro Sánchez won the municipal presidency with 44 percent of the votes. While many factors may explain such exception, authors have pointed at the profound internal divisions within the PRD and at the extensive coalition successfully brought together by the PRI local leadership to explain the return of the party in Neza and other important PRD cities in the State of Mexico (Ortega Reyna 2010). 7. For a detailed account of the history of the Left, the PRD, and the transition to democracy in Mexico, see Kathleen Bruhn’s Taking on Goliath (1997). 8. Interview, Nezahualcóyotl, Oct. 30, 2007. 9. Although the nonpartisan status of the COPACI seems to be understood and assumed as formally defined by the convocation and the internal rules of the councils by most public officials and COPACI participants interviewed, the actual documents published by the municipal government in preparation for the 2006 COPACI elections never explicitly established or mentioned the nonpartisan status of these local councils (H. Ayuntamiento de Nezahualcóyotl, Oct. 20, 2006). 10. Numbers and estimates of popular participation in COPACI elections compiled by the Coordinación de Participación Ciudadana, 2007.



11. Interview, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 8, 2007. 12. Interview, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 12, 2007. 13. Interview, Nezahualcóyotl, Oct. 30, 2007. 14. The same logic prevails among PRI-affiliated COPACI and local CODEMUN, where the presence of elected delegates supported by social organizations such as CNOP is well established, as my interviews with PRI-affiliated CODEMUN president José and PAN regidora Evangelina Meza as well as previous scholars’ work (Selee 2011) have revealed. 15. Interview, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 6, 2007. 16. Interview, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 14, 2007. 17. Interview, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 28, 2007. 18. Fieldwork observations were made during two CODEMUN meetings in the offices of the municipal administration, one on Oct. 26 and the other on Nov. 30, 2007. 19. Interviews, Nezahualcóyotl, Oct. 30, 2007. 20. As highlighted by René Ramón in La Jornada, family relations are particularly important for career advancement in Nezahualcóyotl. As he demonstrates, the Bautista family is an important one, as Hector Bautista López, who was municipal president from 2000 to 2003 and who is currently federal senator; his brother Víctor Bautista López, who is the current (2006–2009) municipal president, leader of the PRD state party structure, and previously regidor; and their relative Valentín González Bautista, the first PRD municipal president, all played a central role in both the city and the PRD. Moreover, local members of the ayuntamiento nominated by the PRD administration have been noted as being close relatives to regidores or other PRD local or regional politicians (Ramon 2005) and are still in their positions, in spite of overtly denounced scandals of corruption, as in the case of Julissa Mejía Guardado—a close relative of influential local PRD members and the current director of public relations—who was convicted for corruption when she was director of social development. 21. This type of practice is not unique to the PRD. As José explained in an interview, the PRI follows a similar logic with, for example, elected members of the CODEMUN also being affiliated, along with active members of the civic association, Integración Social Oriente (Social Integration East), a PRI-allied group that offers public services to the population.

Chapter 5 1. For a detailed account of the history of the Right and, more specifically, of the rise of the PAN throughout the twentieth century, see David Shirk’s Mexico’s New Politics (2005) and Yemile Mizhrani’s From Martyrdom to Power (2003). 2. Interview, León, Nov. 20, 2007. 3. Interview, León, Nov. 22, 2007. 4. Interview, León, Nov. 23, 2007.



5. Interview, León, Nov. 23, 2007. 6. Interview, León, Nov. 21, 2007. 7. Every municipal campaign in León in recent years has been preceded by an internal campaign within the PAN to proceed to nomination of the candidate for mayor, a process that always involves power struggles between opposing factions of the party. Yet the democratic rule framing this process, where the candidate for mayor is elected by the rank-and-file and not nominated by the party leadership, has tended to appease tensions in the longer run and to be an important tool for rallying all the PAN members during the actual municipal electoral process. 8. Interview, León, Nov. 22, 2007.

Chapter 6 1. For in-depth and well-documented qualitative studies of the PPB/PB program, see Wampler (2007); Wampler and Avritzer (2004); Melo, Rezende, and Lubambo (2001); da Silva (2003); and Barbosa da Silva (2003). 2. The mocambos were traditional little villages of huts generally located at the outskirts of major cities and where runaway slaves established communities during the Portuguese colonization period. In Recife, the mocambos were symbols of miserable living conditions and memories of the city’s past that needed to be forgotten in the context of modernization (Rezende 2002). 3. Interview, Recife, June 30, 2008. 4. Policy councils formed by representatives of the concerned social sectors, municipal administrators, and municipal councilors, which accompany the work of the administration in each public policy area. In certain policy areas, the federal transfers are conditional on the existence of such councils, as in the sectors of health and education (República Federativa do Brasil 1988 [2007]). 5. These numbers include only people who participated in face-to-face interactions in the deliberative instances such as the regional and thematic assemblies where delegates are elected and policy priorities are discussed. They exclude those citizens who participated only via their “digital vote,” a voting mechanism later included in the PB cycle. 6. Interview, Recife, July 4, 2008. 7. Interview, Recife, July 4, 2008. 8. In Recife, discussions in two local forum meetings in microregion 5.3 were observed, which is composed of both middle-class and marginalized neighborhoods. In both cases, the local coordinators were leading the meeting, and public servants were there only to provide further information on the status of certain projects if needed, not to participate in the general discussions. 9. See Melo et al. (2001) for a detailed account of the 1998 events, where the mayor faced important internal competition coming from the Chamber of Councilors. 10. Both FASE and ETAPAS are among the most important Brazilian NGOs present in Recife and active at the grassroots level, notably in the favelas. Emerging



in the 1980s, they became organizations “at the service of urban movements” (Assies 1991). Both are fighting for what has been called the “right to the city,” which refers to the idea that citizens of all sectors of the population should be granted the basic civil rights associated with the status of citizen at the city level, including access to basic services such as water and sewage, as well as property rights. The interviews conducted in 2008 with the leaders of these two local NGOs, Isabela Valença (ETAPAS) and Evanildo Barbosa da Silva (FASE-Recife), corroborated the important and historical role played by their organizations in establishing and further extending the PREZEIS structure within the excluded zones, as well as their organizational role to propel community-based organization in the context of the urbanization plan coordinated with the municipal authorities. 11. Interview, Recife, July 9, 2008.

Chapter 7 1. The exception to this stability happened in 1996, when an internal conflict between the incumbent mayor Ananias and the president of the local section of the PT Guimarães occurred. Succession for the coalition leader in the upcoming election was at stake: the official coalition’s candidate, de Castro, incarnated the continuity of Ananias’ work in the municipal government, whereas Guimarães represented the more activist branch of the PT. The two candidates ran separately in the first round of the election (see Table 7.1, page 181), but soon the parties reunited behind de Castro and reconstructed their alliance. This was, however, an isolated episode, and until 2012, when the alliance was broken, tacit cooperation between the two main leftist parties remained the same, alternating between PT and PSB candidates for mayor in municipal elections. 2. Interview, Belo Horizonte, Aug. 19, 2008. 3. Interview, Belo Horizonte, June 6, 2008. 4. Interview, Belo Horizonte, June 19, 2008. 5. Wampler (2007) understands cooperation as a constraint on CSOs’ ability to exercise their social accountability function; he argues that cooperation ties CSOs to the local state and the formal channels of participation and interest representation in such a way that they can hardly use contentious politics to manifest their opposition to governmental policies. This leads him to conclude that cooperation among CSOs and state actors could have a negative impact on the ability of CSOs to use contestation strategies to oppose the local state’s decisions. My understanding of cooperative state-society relationships in participatory mechanisms, however, does not exclude the idea of conflict and contestation as an important type of interaction between the state and society. On the contrary, cooperation is possible only when participants are autonomous from the local state and politicians and able to manifest their opposition through the variety of means available to them, including contention. The fact that it is less common in Belo Horizonte does not necessarily entail a problem with cooperation as it might also indicate



a decreasing need for using such a strategy, owing to the greater effectiveness of other representation mechanisms in responding to social demands and addressing social concerns. 6. The only exception to the generally stable trends in participation rates were observed for the 1998 and 1999/2000 exercises, which took place in 1997 and 1998 respectively. Such outlier years can be explained by the uncertainty of the future of the PB at this time, as the consultation rounds happened just after the election of the PSB mayor Castro, who proposed reforms to the process. Once the population was reassured that such reforms had not affected the distributive outcomes of PB, participants started to attend meetings again (Avritzer 2002; Wampler 2007; Wampler and Avritzer 2004). 7. Interview, Belo Horizonte, June 18, 2008. 8. Interview, Belo Horizonte, Aug. 14. 9. Interview, Belo Horizonte, June 26, 2008. 10. Interview, Belo Horizonte, June 25, 2008.

Chapter 8 1. The argument that the success of participatory decentralization relied on the willingness of the governing political parties, which is partly explained by the existence of a “leftist” partisan ideology emphasizing the role of the citizen in democracy, was extensively present in the literature, derived from the early empirical literature on participatory budgeting, which focused on Porto Alegre, the first PB program implemented by the PT in Brazil and still considered the perfect example of a success story (Nylen 1996; Abers 1996; Koonings 2004; Baiocchi 2005). As PT initiatives, the success and diffusion of PB programs in Brazil were often associated with the election of the party in municipal elections. In our case, however, where we compared experiences elaborated and implemented by different political parties, ideology did not seem to be a determining explanation.


INTERVIEWS Nezahualcóyotl Alberto, COPACI president, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 16, 2007. Beatriz, deputy coordinator, COPACI, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 12, 2007. Elena, COPACI president, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 17, 2007. Evangelina Meza, PAN regidora, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 28, 2007. Hector Bautista López, ex-mayor (2000–2003), México, D.F., Nov. 14, 2007. Iván, administration member, Nezahualcóyotl, Oct. 30, 2007. José, CODEMUN president, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 29, 2007. Maria Susanna Cruz del Rio, PRD regidora, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 7, 2007. Marcelo, public relations officer (unnamed), Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 8, 2007. Miguel León Díaz, PRD regidor, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 6, 2007. Rodrigo, COPACI president, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 27, 2007. Vicente, CODEMUN president, Nezahualcóyotl, Nov. 30, 2007. Victor Bautista López, mayor (2006–2009), Nezahualcóyotl, Oct. 30, 2007.

León Anita, comité de colonos president, León, Nov. 20, 2007. Carolina, coordinator of comités de colonos, León, Nov. 21, 2007. Diana, director of Atención. Diego Sinhué Rodriguez, PAN regidor, León, Nov. 23, 2007. Edmundo, director of Desarrollo Social, León, Guanajuato, Nov. 20, 2007. Elvira, consejera ciudadana, León, Nov. 23, 2007. Eva, consejera ciudadana, León, Nov. 23, 2007. Gracia, comité de colonos president, León, Dec. 3, 2007. Henrique, comité de colonos president, León, Dec. 3, 2007. Jesus, consejero ciudadano, León, Nov. 21, 2007. Luciana, comité de colonos secretary, León, Nov. 20, 2007. Maria Teresa Trejo Palomino, PRI regidora, León, Nov. 23, 2007. Mercedes, comité de colonos president, León, Dec. 3, 2007. Vicente Guerrero Reynoso, mayor (2006–2009), León, Nov. 22, 2007.


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Abers, Rebecca, 6, 27–28, 46, 61, 180, 212, 229, 237n1 ABONG, 169 accountability and government responsiveness, 5, 21–24, 25, 97, 188; in Belo Horizonte, 196–97, 198, 201–2; as clientelistic, 29; horizontal accountability, 22–23; relationship to autonomy, 2, 32, 36, 98, 134, 154, 158, 163, 174, 194, 198, 214, 223, 226, 227, 228, 236n5; relationship to mobilization, 34, 39, 88, 114, 116, 135, 173, 174, 223, 226, 227; social accountability, 22, 23, 38, 121, 158, 236n5; and success of participatory democracy, 2, 8, 20, 27, 28, 33, 38, 40, 201–2, 214, 226, 227, 230; vertical accountability, 22, 23, 38 Ackerman, John, 5, 22 actors’ perceptions of participation: in Belo Horizonte, 199, 200, 210–12, 213, 220, 225; in León, 131–34, 219, 225; in Nezahualcóyotl, 95–97, 219, 225–26; in Recife, 170–72, 219, 220, 225–26; relationship to autonomy of civil society, 9, 10, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64–65, 95–97, 131–34, 170–72, 213, 218, 219, 220, 223, 225–26 Afonso (PB delegate and neighborhood association president, Belo Horizonte), 190, 192–93, 195, 196, 197 Alaniz Posado, Ricardo, 120, 121, 128–29 Alba Muñiz, María Eugencia, 233nn3,4 Alberto (COPACI president, Nezahualcóyotl), 70, 79, 80, 83–84, 87, 92, 95, 96 Aliança Renovadora Nacional (ARENA), 3 Alonso, José A., 68 Alvarado Guevara, Emilio, 69 Alves, Marileide, 157 Ana (PB delegate and COMFORÇA member, Belo Horizonte), 191–92, 193, 195–96, 203

Analice (adjunct secretary of planning, Belo Horizonte), 184, 186–87, 190, 202 Ananias de Sousa, Patrus, 175, 180, 181, 182, 188, 236n1 Anita (comité de colonos president, León), 117 Arzaluz Solano, María del Socorro, 52, 82, 84, 92, 93, 233n4 Assies, Williem, 138, 139, 236n10 Associação Brasileira dos Municipios (ABM), 50 autonomy of civil society, 21, 24–25, 30, 38, 39–40, 169, 236n5; in Belo Horizonte, 15–16, 176, 194–98, 203–12, 213–14, 217, 218, 220, 223, 224–25, 226; as lacking in Nezahualcóyotl, 14–15, 77, 85, 93, 96–97, 98, 122–23, 135, 212, 217, 219, 224, 226; as lacking in Recife, 152–58, 169, 170, 171–72, 173–74, 194, 203, 212, 217–18, 220, 223, 224, 226, 227–28; in León, 102, 113, 118–23, 126–27, 128, 129–31, 132, 133–34, 135, 174, 217, 219, 223, 224–25, 227, 228; level of, 34–36, 37, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 56, 60, 61, 62–65, 77, 135, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 222–26; relationship to accountability, 2, 32, 36, 98, 134, 154, 158, 163, 174, 194, 198, 214, 223, 226, 227, 228, 236n5; relationship to actors’ perceptions of participation, 9, 10, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64–65, 95–97, 131–34, 170–72, 213, 218, 219, 220, 223, 225–26; relationship to configuration of civil society, 9, 10, 14–15, 39, 59, 60, 61, 64, 89, 93–95, 130–31, 167– 70, 169, 207–10, 213, 218, 219, 220, 224– 25; relationship to political competition, 9, 15, 59, 60, 61, 62–64, 89, 92–93, 129, 218, 219, 220, 223–24; relationship to success of participatory democracy, 7–8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 31, 32–33, 44, 51, 59–60, 93, 135, 158–59, 163, 172, 173–74, 176, 194–98,



203–12, 213–14, 216, 217, 218, 220, 222– 26, 227. See also civil society; civil society organizations (CSOs) Avritzer, Leonardo, 5, 58, 229; on Belo Horizonte, 178, 180, 182, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 193, 206, 207, 208, 237n6; on mobilization, 55, 60; on participatory democracy, 6, 25, 26, 28, 32, 47, 52, 164; on political will, 164; on previous associationalism, 47, 60; on Recife, 54, 235n1; on state-society relationships, 35, 39 Azevedo, Neimar Duarte, 185, 187, 200, 203 Baiocchi, Gianpaolo, 6, 25, 26, 28, 30, 47, 52, 56, 61, 229, 237n1 Bando Municipal, 73, 76 Barbosa da Silva, Evanildo, 236n10; on participatory budgeting (PB), 144, 146, 149, 150, 151, 157–58, 161, 164, 168, 169, 235n1; on Recife, 54, 142, 144, 146, 149, 150, 151, 157–58, 161, 164, 168, 169 Bataillon, Claude, 68 Bautista López, Héctor, 72, 85, 234n20 Bautista López, Víctor, 71, 72, 76, 91, 95–96, 234n20 Baz, Gustavo, 68 Beatriz (deputy coordinator, COPACI, Nezahualcóyotl), 82 Belo Horizonte: accountability in, 196–97, 198, 201–2; actors’ perceptions of participation in, 199, 200, 210–12, 213, 220, 225; Associações de Defensa Coletiva (ADC), 177; autonomy in, 15–16, 176, 194–98, 203–12, 213–14, 217, 218, 220, 223, 224–25, 226; caravanas de prioridades, 183, 185, 202; Catholic Church in, 55, 175, 177, 180, 193, 207, 208, 220, 225; clientelism in, 8, 55, 57, 175, 177–78, 179, 182, 188, 193, 199, 212, 213; COMFORÇAs, 183, 185–87, 191–92, 194, 195, 196, 198, 202, 211, 212, 214; democratic cooperation in, 8, 15–16, 45, 46, 176, 188, 199, 217, 218, 219, 226, 229, 236n5; economic conditions in, 11, 176; Federação dos Trabalhadores Favelados de Belo Horizonte, 177; Frente BH Popular, 204; history of associationalism in, 54–55, 175, 176–79, 199, 208–9; Indice de Qualidade de Vida Urbana (IQVU), 184, 200–201; informal practices in, 178; Lei Orgãnica do Município de Belo Horizonte, 182; vs. León, 8, 11, 45, 56, 57, 126, 176, 179, 188, 198, 199, 207, 210, 211,

217, 219, 220, 222, 224–25, 227, 229, 230; location, 17, 175; mayor Ananias, 175, 180, 181, 182, 188, 236n1; mayor Castro, 180, 181, 182, 201, 207, 236n1, 237n6; mayor Pimentel, 181, 183, 204, 210–11; middleclass neighborhoods in, 183, 200, 201, 213; military rule in, 175, 177–78, 204; mobilization in, 188–94, 199–203, 213, 217, 218, 222, 226, 227; municipal council, 195–96, 204–6, 213; neighborhood associations in, 177–78, 179, 183, 185, 188, 190–91, 192–93, 195, 197, 198, 199, 200, 207, 208, 212; vs. Nezahualcóyotl, 11, 45, 56, 57, 126, 176, 179, 188, 198, 199, 207, 210, 212, 217, 219, 220, 222, 224, 225, 226, 229; participatory budgeting (PB) in, 7–8, 15–16, 43, 44, 176, 182–214, 218, 222, 225, 226, 237n6; PB Digital, 183, 201, 213; PFL in, 204; PMDB in, 178, 180, 181, 204; political competition in, 207, 213; population, 175; Programa participativo de Obras Prioritarias (PROPAR), 178–79; PSB in, 180–81, 201, 204, 206–7, 236n1, 237n6; PSDB in, 178–79, 180, 181; PT in, 57, 176–77, 179–82, 190, 195, 203–10, 218, 220, 223, 236n1; public services/goods in, 177, 179, 182, 188, 192, 193, 194, 196, 198, 200–201, 202–3, 213; vs. Recife, 11, 43, 45, 56, 57, 61, 176, 177, 179, 184, 188, 194, 196, 198, 199, 201, 202, 203–4, 205, 206, 207, 209, 210, 212, 217, 219, 220, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 229; regional meetings in, 183, 202–3; RPAs in, 182–83, 184, 185; universal participation in, 200–201, 207, 209; urbanization in, 176–77, 178, 179, 184 Bennett, Andrew, 13, 32 Berg, Bruce L., 12 Bidegain Greising, María, 139, 208 Bolos, Silvia, 52–53, 70 Boschi, Renato Raul, 179, 187, 189 Boulding, Carew, 27 Brasileiro, Ana Maria, 49 Brazil: clientelism in, 4, 5, 27–28, 47, 48, 49, 52, 57; Constitution of 1988, 3, 50, 51, 58, 142; coronelismo, 49, 52; decentralization in, 48, 49–50, 51, 65; democratization in, 3–5, 6, 30, 48, 65, 140, 178–79, 215; Estado Nôvo regime, 49, 176; executive branch in, 23; history of associationalism in, 51–52; informal institutions in, 3–4; vs. Mexico, 3–5, 6, 11–12, 23, 27–29,

index 43–44, 47, 48–52, 55–59, 63, 65, 215, 222, 228, 229–30; military regime, 53–54, 55, 136, 138–39, 175, 177; municipalities in, 48, 49–50, 51, 56, 58–59, 65; participatory budgeting (PB) in, 5, 11–12, 27–28, 50, 57, 58–59, 61, 65, 222, 228, 232n5, 237n1; political will in, 56–57; social accountability in, 23; taxation in, 57, 58; Vargas era, 138. See also Belo Horizonte; Recife Bruhn, Kathleen, 233n7 Cabrero Mendoza, Enrique, 48, 56, 104, 107, 108, 127; on Miércoles Ciudadano, 111; on PAN, 113, 128, 130; on participatory democracy, 229; on PRI, 127 Cammack, Paul, 49 Canel, Eduardo, 26, 47, 62, 229 Carolina (coordinator of comités de colonos, León), 124 case selection and methodology, 9, 11–13, 42– 44, 65; archival and newspaper research, 13; interviews, 12–13, 34, 36; qualitative methods, 12 Castro, Célio de, 180, 181, 182, 201, 207, 236n1, 237n6 Catholic Church: in Belo Horizonte, 55, 175, 177, 180, 193, 207, 208, 220, 225; in León, 99, 100–101, 130, 208, 225; in Nezahualcóyotl, 53, 225; in Recife, 139, 140, 225 CEBs. See Communidades Eclesiáticas de Base Chaves Teixeira, Ana Claudia, 54, 144, 150, 151, 161 checks and balances, 22–23 Chimalhuacán, 68 citizenship, 7, 31, 36, 230, 232n3; citizenship regimes, 8, 10, 20–21, 23, 40, 85–86, 173, 226, 227; defined, 20, 231n1; effective citizenship, 30, 232n3; rights of, 1, 5, 8, 20, 21, 24, 33, 38, 93, 97, 98, 135, 142, 174, 226, 236n10; social construction of, 8, 10, 20, 30, 33, 38, 39, 173, 223, 226, 227, 228; and success of participatory democracy, 20–21, 30, 33, 38, 40, 93 civil society: defined, 24, 232n2; inclusiveness of, 18, 20–21, 23–25, 27, 33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 40, 67, 100, 113, 129, 134, 135, 148, 158, 164, 174, 175, 179, 187, 210, 214, 226, 227, 228, 229–30; institutionalization of, 5, 19, 26, 30–31, 32; pluralistic balance of power within, 39, 52, 54, 59, 61, 64,


151, 169, 170, 172–73, 207–8, 209, 213, 218, 219, 220, 224–25. See also autonomy of civil society; Catholic Church; civil society organizations; empowerment; mobilization civil society organizations (CSOs), 20–21, 24, 26, 30, 38, 46, 62; CEBs, 55, 139, 177, 180, 208; CODEMUN in Nezahualcóyotl, 74, 76–82, 84, 86–89, 90, 92, 94–95, 96, 98, 129, 234nn14,18,21; comités de colonos in León, 106, 107–10, 112, 114–15, 118, 119–22, 123–26, 129, 132, 133; COPACIs in Nezahualcóyotl, 66, 70, 73, 74–76, 77–89, 90–91, 94–95, 96, 97, 98, 108, 129, 233n9, 234n14; neighborhood associations in Belo Horizonte, 177–78, 179, 183, 185, 188, 190–91, 192–93, 195, 197, 198, 199, 200, 207, 208, 212; neighborhood associations in Recife, 136, 138–39, 144, 150, 151, 152, 154–55, 160, 165, 167, 168; nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), 12–13, 144, 146, 150, 167–69, 209, 235n10; power imbalances within, 89, 93–95. See also Catholic Church Claudia (PB delegate and COMFORÇA member, Belo Horizonte), 191, 192, 212–13 clientelism, 6, 24, 27–30; in Belo Horizonte, 8, 55, 57, 175, 177–78, 179, 182, 188, 193, 199, 212, 213; Brazil vs. Mexico regarding, 4, 5, 27–29, 47, 48, 49, 52, 57; defined, 4; vs. democracy, 29, 33, 40, 215; as ideal type, 7, 14, 15, 33, 37–38, 41, 44, 45, 46, 216; in Latin America, 1, 7, 21; in León, 53, 57, 100–103, 106, 113, 114, 122, 123, 130–31, 134–35, 174, 228; in Nezahualcóyotl, 8, 14, 45, 46, 52–53, 57, 67, 68–71, 72, 73, 77–86, 89–90, 94, 97–98, 113, 135, 217, 219, 226, 234n21; and political parties, 4, 28–29, 48–49, 52–53, 54, 55, 57, 63, 68–71, 90, 94, 97–98, 100–103, 106, 113, 114, 122, 123, 127, 153, 154–56, 167, 198; in Recife, 8, 15, 45, 46, 54, 57, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 142, 146, 149, 167, 173, 198, 209, 217, 219, 221, 226; relationship to accountability, 29; relationship to autonomy, 36, 38 Clouthier, Manuel, 105 CNOP. See Confederación Nacional de Organizasiones Populares CODEMUNs. See Consejos para el Desarrollo Municipal Coelho, Schattan, 6, 31



Combes, Hélène, 41 Comité para la Planeación del Desarollo Estatal y Municipal (COPLADE), 50–51 Comité para la Planeación del Desarollo Municipal (COPLADEM/ COPLADEMUN), 58, 76, 107–10, 114–17 Comités Democráticos e Populares de Bairros (CDPs), 138 Communidades Eclesiáticas de Base (CEBs), 55, 139, 177, 180, 208 Confederación Nacional de Organizasiones Populares (CNOP), 52, 70, 102, 233n5 Congreso del Estado de México, 74 Connolly, Priscilla, 233n1 Consejos de Participación Ciudadana (COPACIs): in Nezahualcóyotl, 66, 70, 73, 74–76, 77–89, 90–91, 94–95, 96, 97, 98, 108, 129, 233n9, 234n14 Consejos para el Desarrollo Municipal (CODEMUNs): in Nezahualcóyotl, 58, 74, 76–82, 76–86, 84, 86–89, 90, 92, 94–95, 96, 98, 129, 234nn14,18,21 Coodinación de Participación Ciudadana, 74, 75, 82 COPACI. See Consejos de Participación Ciudadana Cornelius, Wayne A., 48 Cornwall, Andrea, 6, 25, 26, 31, 32 Courchesne, Thomas, 233n2 Crisp, Brian F., 22 da Costa, João, 146, 155, 156–57, 167 da Eloi, Cláudia, 157 Dagnino, Evelina, 18, 25, 35, 230 da Silva, Neige Maria, 139 da Silva, Tarcisio, 138, 144, 145, 149, 151, 154, 164, 235n1 de Azevedo, Sérgio, 176, 177, 178 decentralization, 5, 10, 11, 33, 40, 45, 47, 135, 178; in Brazil, 48, 49–50, 51, 65; in Mexico, 48, 49–51, 65, 232n2 de Jesus, Claúdio Roberto, 191 de la Madrid, Miguel, 50, 71, 232n2 Délia (PB delegate, Belo Horizonte), 175, 179, 191, 198, 201, 214 de Medeiro, Antônio Carlos, 50 democratic cooperation, 10, 34; in Belo Horizonte, 8, 15–16, 45, 46, 176, 188, 199, 217, 218, 219, 226, 229, 236n5; as ideal type, 7, 14, 33, 37, 39–40, 41, 44, 45, 46, 216

democratic governance: elections, 1, 4, 19–20, 22, 57, 66; and principle of equality, 19; and principle of liberty, 1, 19; and rule of law, 1, 19. See also success of participatory democracy democratization: in Brazil, 3–5, 6, 30, 48, 55–56, 65, 140, 178–79, 215; in Latin America, 1, 7, 21, 25; in Mexico, 3–5, 6, 48, 55–56, 57, 65, 66, 215. See also success of participatory democracy de Sousa Santos, Boaventura, 5, 32 DeVault, Marjorie L., 12 Diamond, Larry, 1, 18, 19–20, 21, 23, 24 Diana (director of Atención), 112, 117 Diário AM de León, 120, 132 Díaz-Cayeros, Alberto, 233n2 direct vs. indirect participation, 182, 185 disempowering cooption, 10, 40, 127, 213; as ideal type, 7, 14, 15, 33, 37, 38, 41, 44, 45, 46, 216; in León, 101, 102; in Nezahualcóyotl, 89, 90, 93, 98, 135, 198, 226; in Recife, 8, 15, 45, 46, 137, 139, 149, 153–55, 157, 163, 167–68, 169, 172, 173, 174, 194, 198, 203, 207, 217, 220, 226, 227–28 distribution of public services/goods, 28, 35, 36, 38, 40, 48–49, 55, 63, 228–29; in Belo Horizonte, 177, 179, 182, 188, 192, 193, 194, 196, 198, 200–201, 202–3, 213; in León, 100, 102–3, 108, 110, 111, 114, 115, 116, 120, 124, 127, 133, 227, 232n1; in Nezahualcóyotl, 52–53, 67, 68, 70, 74, 77, 86, 87, 94, 232n1; in Recife, 138, 152, 156, 162, 164, 236n10 do Céu Cézar, Maria, 53, 137, 138 Dora (PB coordinator, Belo Horizonte), 184 Duarte, Adriano Luiz, 138 Duhau, Emilio, 70, 73, 92, 233n4 Dulci, Otavio, 179, 194, 202 Edmundo (director of Desarrollo Social, León, Guanajuato), 108 Edmundo (PB delegate, Recife), 136, 155, 164, 171 Eduardo (ex-PB delegate, Recife), 139, 151, 152, 162 Efigênia (PB delegate, Belo Horizonte), 189, 193, 211, 214 Eisenstadt, Shmuel N., 4, 28 elections, 1, 4, 19–20, 22, 57, 66 Elena (COPACI president, Nezahualcóyotl), 78–79, 81

index Elvira (consejera ciudadana, León), 99, 120, 133, 135 empowerment, 5, 8, 19, 48, 50, 58, 61, 78, 82, 98, 132, 133–34, 211, 214; empowerment thesis, 2, 6, 187, 191; relationship to success of participatory democracy, 2, 6, 26–27, 28, 31, 187, 191 Espinosa-Castillo, Maribel, 233n2 ETAPAS, 168, 169, 235n10 Eva (consejera ciudadana, León), 121, 125, 133 Evangelina Meza (PAN regidora, Nezahualcóyotl), 87, 90, 234n14 Fagen, Richard R., 48 FAISM. See Fondo de Aportaciones para la Infraestructura Social Municipal FASE-Recife, 168, 235n10 Federación de Colonias del Ex-Taso de Texcoco, 68 Feres Fária, Cláudia, 186 Fernandes, Edésio, 55, 176, 178 Fernández-Kelly, Patricia, 29 Filipe (PB delegate, Recife), 156, 157 Fondo de Aportaciones para la Infraestructura Social Municipal (FAISM), 58, 232n2 Fondo para el Fortalecimiento Municipal (FORTAMUN), 233n2 Foweraker, Joe, 20 Fox, Jonathan, 4, 21, 38, 48 Fox, Vicente, 3, 103, 105 fragmented inclusion, 10, 40; as ideal type, 7, 14, 15, 33, 37, 39, 41, 44, 45, 46, 216; in León, 8, 15, 45, 46, 100, 113–22, 126, 134–35, 217, 219, 227 Fung, Archon, 5, 6, 44, 45, 57 Garcia-Guadilla, Maria Pilar, 6, 28 García Luna, Margarita, 68 Gay, Robert, 29 George, Alexander L., 13, 32 Godoy, Arnaldo, 189–90, 195, 204, 205 Goetz, Anne Marie, 5 Goirand, Camille, 28, 29 Goldfrank, Benjamin, 5, 6, 28, 45 Gomes, Autair, 205 Gomes, Maria Auxiliadora, 200 González Bautista, Valentín, 71, 72, 73, 74, 91, 234n20 Gracia (comité de colonos president, León), 115, 118, 126 Grindle, Merilee S., 48, 49, 50, 229 Guanajuato, 99, 103, 106


Guarneros-Meza, Valeria, 107, 113 Gubrium, Jaber F., 12 Guerrero Amparán, Juan Pablo, 232n2 Guerrero Reynoso, Vicente, 112, 129, 131–32 Guillén López, Tonatiuh, 232n2 Guimarães, Ulysses, 51 Guimarães, Virgilio, 180, 236n1 Hagopian, Frances, 5, 55 Harbers, Imke, 5, 44 H. Ayuntamiento de León, 107, 108, 109, 111 H. Ayuntamiento de Nezahualcóyotl, 73, 74, 76, 233n9 Held, David, 19, 20 Heller, Patrick, 5, 52, 229; on effective citizenship, 232n3 Helmke, Gretchen, 3, 4, 45 Henrique (comité de colonos president, León), 102–3, 106, 115, 116, 124, 133 Hickey, Sam, 5 Hilgers, Tina, 4, 29 Holstein, James A., 12 Hudson, Georges E., 20–21 Iglesias, Maximiliano, 70 informal practices, 3–4, 24, 25, 30–31, 36, 41, 223–24; in Belo Horizonte, 178; defined, 45; in León, 114–15; in Nezahualcóyotl, 46, 77, 82–86, 89–93, 97, 118, 135, 224, 225, 226; in Recife, 46, 149, 153–54, 155, 159, 172, 173, 174, 194, 196, 203, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227–28 institutional design, 14, 16, 228; relationship to mobilization, 15, 55–56, 59, 60–62, 86–89, 123–27, 134, 158–63, 172–73, 199, 203, 212, 214, 218, 219, 220, 221–22; relationship to success of participatory democracy, 2–3, 9, 10, 44–45, 55–59, 60– 62, 86–89, 122–27, 134, 158–63, 172–73, 199, 213, 218, 221–22, 226 institutionalization, 5, 19, 44–45, 47, 57 Instituto Brasileiro de Administração Municipal (IBAM), 50 Integración Social Oriente, 234n21 Inter-American Development Bank, 59 Isin, Engin F., 31 Iván (administration member, Nezahualcóyotl), 83, 94 Jenkins, Rob, 5 Jenson, Jane, 20, 21, 232n1 Jesus (consejero ciudadano, León), 106, 117, 118–19



José (CODEMUN president, Nezahualcóyotl), 81, 85, 92, 234nn14,21 Keohane, Robert O., 13 King, Gary, 13 Kitschelt, Herbert, 28, 29 Koonings, Kees, 237n1 Krause, Gustavo, 136, 141 Krause, Priscila, 155–56, 157, 165, 173–74 Kunrath Silva, Marcelo, 52 Landman, Todd, 20 Larios García, Xóchitl, 121 Lemarchand, René, 4, 28 León: actors’ perceptions of participation in, 131–34, 219, 225; autonomy in, 102, 113, 118–23, 126–27, 128, 129–31, 132, 133–34, 135, 174, 217, 219, 223, 224–25, 227, 228; vs. Belo Horizonte, 8, 11, 45, 56, 57, 126, 176, 179, 188, 198, 199, 207, 210, 211, 217, 219, 220, 222, 224–25, 227, 229, 230; Catholic Church in, 99, 100–101, 130, 208, 225; clientelism in, 53, 57, 100–103, 106, 113, 114, 122, 123, 130–31, 134–35, 174, 228; comités de colonos in, 106, 107–10, 112, 114–15, 118, 119–22, 123–26, 129, 132, 133; consejeros ciudadanos in, 99, 106, 107, 108, 110, 114, 117, 118–19, 120, 121, 124–25, 133, 135; COPLADEM process in, 107–10, 114–17, 118, 119–20, 121, 123–24, 125, 126, 129–30; Direción de Desarrollo Social of, 108, 118, 120, 124, 132; disempowering cooption, 101, 102; economic conditions in, 11, 105; fraccionadores in, 102; fragmented inclusion in, 15, 45, 46, 100, 113–22, 126, 134–35, 217, 219, 227; history of associationalism in, 53; informal practices in, 114–15; labor unions in, 101–2; location, 17, 99; mayor Alaniz Posado, 120, 121, 128–29; mayor Guerrero Reynoso, 112, 129, 131–32; mayor Medina Plascencia, 104, 105, 106–7; mayor Quirós Echegaray, 107, 111; Miércoles Ciudadano in, 107, 110–13, 116–17, 123, 124, 125–26, 134; mobilization in, 15, 100, 110, 114–17, 118, 123–26, 174, 199, 217, 219, 222–23, 227, 229; municipal council in, 13, 103, 104, 108, 110, 113, 119, 121, 122, 126, 128, 129; vs. Nezahualcóyotl, 11, 43–44, 45, 53, 56, 57, 61, 102, 103, 105, 106, 108, 113, 118, 122–24, 126–27, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132–33, 134, 135, 217, 219, 222, 224, 225,

226, 229; PAN in, 57, 99–100, 101, 103–6, 107, 110–11, 113–14, 119, 120, 121–22, 124, 127, 128, 130–31, 132, 174, 219, 235n7; participatory planning in, 7–8, 15, 43–44, 99, 106–10, 114–17, 118, 119–22, 123–24, 125, 129–30, 131–34, 174, 210, 211, 222–23, 225, 227, 229; PDM in, 104, 127; political competition in, 15, 127–28, 129, 219, 224; political repression in, 100, 101, 127; population, 99; PRD/PT in, 104, 128; PRI in, 99, 100–103, 104, 105, 111, 113, 119, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 127–28, 130–31, 132, 232n1; public services/goods in, 100, 102–3, 108, 110, 111, 114, 115, 116, 120, 124, 127, 133, 227, 232n1; PVEM in, 104, 127; vs. Recife, 11, 45, 56, 57, 158–59, 174, 217, 222–23, 224, 225, 226, 227–28, 229 León Díaz, Miguel (PRD regidor, Nezahualcóyotl), 84, 92, 94 Levitsky, Steven, 3, 4, 45 Ley Orgánica Municipal del Estado de Mexico, article 64, 73, 74, 83, 92 Ley Orgánica para los municipios del Estado de Guanajuato, 106 Lima e Silva, João Paulo, 137, 141, 145–46, 150–51, 155, 157, 159, 166–67, 169, 171 Lima, Evódia, 155 Linz, Juan, 1 López Laines, Moises Raúl, 69 Lubambo, Cátia, 144, 207, 235n1 Luciana (comité de colonos secretary, León), 120 Lula da Silva, Luiz Ignacio, 180 Lynch, Julia F., 12 M4, 83 MacPherson, Stewart, 35 Magalhães, Roberto, 137, 141, 143, 144, 146, 164, 165–66 Maia, Maria Leonor, 142, 168 Mainwaring, Scott P., 4, 21, 22, 49, 139 Manin, Bernard, 22 Manor, James, 5 Marcelo (public relations officer, Nezahualcóyotl), 76, 84 March, James G., 44 Marinho, G., 142 Márquez Albo, Raúl, 131 Marshall, T. H., 20 Martins de Souza, Luciana Andress, 63 Mateus (PB delegate, Belo Horizonte), 196–97, 212

index Mazzuca, Sebastián L., 4, 24 McCoy, Liza, 12 McNulty, Stephanie L., 6, 19, 26 Medina Plascencia, Carlos, 104, 105, 106–7 Mejía Guardado, Julissa, 234n20 Mejía Líra, José, 35 Melo, Marcus André, 144, 145, 150, 154, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 170, 207, 235nn1,9 Mercedes (comité de colonos president, León), 115, 116 Merino, Mauricio, 48 Mexico: vs. Brazil, 3–5, 6, 11–12, 23, 27–29, 43–44, 47, 48–52, 55–59, 63, 65, 215, 222, 228, 229–30; clientelism in, 4, 5, 28–29, 47, 48–49, 52, 57; Constitution of 1917, 48; decentralization in, 48, 49–51, 65, 232n2; democratization in, 3–5, 6, 48, 57, 65, 66, 215; economic conditions, 49–50, 105; executive branch in, 23; history of associationalism in, 51–53; informal institutions in, 3–4; municipalities in, 48–50, 53, 56, 57–58, 65, 66, 73, 74, 232n2; participatory urban planning in, 5, 11–12, 50, 57–58, 61, 65, 76, 81, 86, 88, 222, 228; political will in, 56–57; social accountability in, 23. See also León; Nezahualcóyotl Midgley, James, 35 Minas Gerais, 175, 181 Mizrahi, Yemile, 50, 121; From Martyrdom to Power, 234n1 mobilization: in Belo Horizonte, 188–94, 199–203, 213, 217, 218, 222, 226, 227; as collective, 7–8, 33–34, 37, 38, 39, 40, 43, 45, 46, 60, 62, 79, 81, 86, 88, 89, 95, 116, 117, 126, 135, 137, 149, 150, 151–52, 158, 159, 161–63, 173, 188, 189–94, 199–203, 213, 216, 217–18, 219, 220, 221–23, 226, 227, 228, 229, 232n5; for common good, 15, 21, 34, 62, 64, 88, 89, 106, 116, 150, 152, 173, 188–94, 221, 230; as individualistic/ particularistic, 7–8, 15, 33–34, 37, 39, 43, 44, 45, 46, 55, 60, 62, 77, 78–81, 86–89, 95, 98, 100, 112, 114–17, 123–26, 134, 149, 150, 158, 160–61, 173, 174, 188, 190, 191, 193, 199, 209, 214, 216, 217, 219, 221, 222–23, 227–28, 229, 232n5; in León, 15, 100, 110, 114–17, 118, 123–26, 174, 199, 217, 219, 222–23, 227, 229; in Nezahualcóyotl, 14, 66, 68, 77, 78–89, 118, 126, 199, 217, 219, 222; as path-dependent, 60–61; in Recife, 137, 146, 149–63, 203, 217–18, 219,


221, 222–23, 227–28, 229; relationship to accountability, 34, 39, 88, 114, 116, 135, 173, 174, 223, 226, 227; relationship to institutional design, 15, 55–56, 59, 60–62, 86–89, 123–27, 134, 158–63, 172–73, 199, 203, 212, 214, 218, 219, 220, 221–22; relationship to success of participatory democracy, 7–8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 31, 32–34, 41, 59–60, 172–74, 188–94, 199–203, 217, 218, 222, 227–28 Mohan, Gil, 5 Monge, Raúl, 73 Montero, Alfred P., 49 Mora Macbeath, Manuel, 105 Moreno, Erika, 22, 23 Morlino, Leonardo, 1, 19–20 Mosley, Layna, 12 Mouffe, Chantal, 215 Moura, Aline, 169 Movimiento Cuarto Nezahualcóyotl Dos, A.C., 94 Movimiento de Lucha en Nezahualcóyotl (MLN), 71, 84 Movimiento Vida Digna (MOVIDIG), 71, 73, 83, 84, 91 Murray, Warwick E., 187, 201, 229 Navarro Sánchez, Edgar, 72, 233n6 Negrete, Sofía, 121 Neves, Tancredo, 3 Nezahualcóyotl: actors’ perceptions of participation in, 95–97, 219, 225–26, 226; vs. Belo Horizonte, 11, 45, 56, 57, 126, 176, 179, 188, 198, 199, 207, 210, 212, 217, 219, 220, 222, 224, 225, 226, 229; Catholic Church in, 53, 225; clientelism in, 8, 14, 45, 46, 52–53, 57, 67, 68–71, 72, 73, 77–86, 89–90, 94, 97–98, 113, 135, 217, 219, 226, 234n21; CODEMUN in, 74, 76–82, 84, 86–89, 90, 92, 94–95, 96, 98, 129, 234nn14,18,21; Comités Vecinales de Desarollo Social, 76–77; COPACIs in, 66, 70, 73, 74–76, 77–89, 90–91, 94–95, 96, 97, 98, 108, 129, 233n9, 234n14; COPLADEM process in, 76, 90; creation of, 67–68, 69; disempowering cooption in, 89, 90, 93, 98, 135, 198, 226; economic conditions, 11, 66; elections in, 71–72, 73, 75–76; family relations in, 234n20; fraccionadores in, 67–68, 69, 102, 233n2; history of associationalism in, 52; informal practices in, 46, 77, 82–86, 89–93, 97, 118,



135, 224, 225, 226; lack of autonomy in, 14–15, 77, 85, 93, 96–97, 98, 122–23, 135, 212, 217, 219, 224, 226; land tenure in, 67–68, 69, 102, 233n2; vs. León, 11, 43–44, 45, 53, 56, 57, 61, 102, 103, 105, 106, 108, 113, 118, 122–24, 126–27, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132–33, 134, 135, 217, 219, 222, 224, 225, 226, 229; location, 17, 66; major González Bautista, 71, 72, 73, 74, 91, 234n20; mayor Héctor Bautista López, 72, 85, 234n20; mayor Novarro Sánchez, 72, 233n6; mayor Víctor Bautista López, 71, 72, 76, 91, 95–96, 234n20; mobilization in, 14, 66, 68, 77, 78–89, 118, 126, 199, 217, 219, 222; municipal council, 13, 69, 71, 72, 75, 76, 77, 82–83, 84, 85, 87, 94, 234n20; PAN in, 72, 83, 84, 87–88, 90; participatory planning in, 7–8, 14, 44, 74–98, 129, 132–33, 171, 198, 207, 210, 212, 225, 229; political competition in, 14, 89–93, 94, 127, 129, 207, 219, 224; population, 66; PRD in, 57, 66–67, 70, 71–77, 82–83, 84–85, 89–94, 96, 105, 106, 130, 219, 233n6, 234nn20,21; PRI in, 66, 67, 68–71, 72, 73, 77, 81, 82–83, 84, 85, 90, 91, 97, 103, 232n1, 233nn3,6, 234nn14,21; public services/ goods in, 52–53, 67, 68, 70, 74, 77, 86, 87, 94, 232n1; PVEM in, 72, 233n6; vs. Recife, 8, 45, 56, 57, 126, 158, 171, 217, 219, 220, 222, 224, 225, 226, 229 Nez, Héloïse, 191, 213 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), 12–13, 144, 146, 150, 167–69, 209, 235n10 North, Douglas, 64 Núcleos de Planejamention Comunitdário (NPC)/barrações, 139 Nueva Izquierda, 73 Nunes Leal, Victor, 49 Nylen, William R., 26, 32, 237n1; on Belo Horizonte, 187, 191, 208; on empowerment thesis, 6, 187, 191; on participatory budgeting (PB), 57, 187, 191, 208; on participatory democracy, 25, 61 Obregón, Carlos, 101 O’Donnell, Guillermo, 1, 4, 18, 21, 22, 23 Olsen, Johan P., 44 Olvera, Alberto J., 18 Ortega Reyna, Jaime, 233n6 Ortiz García, Martín, 102, 105 Oxhorn, Philip, 1, 20, 24, 229

Palma Galván, Fernando, 53 PAN. See Partido Acción Nacional Panfichi, Aldo, 18 Papillon, Martin, 20, 232n1 participatory budgeting (PB), 2, 9, 13, 18, 30, 60; in Brazil, 5, 11–12, 27–28, 50, 57, 58–59, 61, 65, 222, 228, 232n5, 237n1; PB Council, 59; popular assemblies, 59; types of meetings, 58. See also Belo Horizonte; Porto Alegre; Recife participatory urban planning, 2, 14–15, 18, 43–44, 50–51; COPLADEM/ COPLADEMUN/CODEMUN, 58, 74, 76–77; in Mexico, 5, 11–12, 50, 57–58, 61, 65, 76, 81, 86, 88, 222, 228; neighborhood councils, 58. See also León; Nezahualcóyotl Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), 3, 53, 57, 234n1; factions in, 128–29, 235n7; in León, 57, 99–100, 101, 103–6, 107, 110–11, 113–14, 119, 120, 121–22, 124, 127, 128, 130–31, 132, 174, 219, 235n7; in Nezahualcóyotl, 72, 83, 84, 87–88, 90 Partido Comunista do Brasil (PCdoB), 138, 156, 176 Partido da Frente Liberal (PFL), 8, 43, 45, 57, 139; as Partido Democráta (DEM), 136, 140, 141, 155–56, 164, 173–74. See also Recife Partido Democrática Mexicano (PDM), 103, 128 Partido de Revolución Democrática (PRD), 3, 52, 57, 104, 128; factions in, 73, 82, 83, 91–92, 93–94, 128, 219, 233n6; in Nezahualcóyotl, 57, 66–67, 70, 71–77, 82–83, 84–85, 89–94, 96, 105, 106, 130, 219, 233n6, 234nn20,21 Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (PMDB), 3, 8, 43, 45, 57, 136, 140, 178. See also Recife Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), 5, 8, 43, 45, 58, 136, 139, 237n1; in Belo Horizonte, 57, 176–77, 179–82, 190, 195, 203–10, 218, 220, 223, 236n1; in Recife, 8, 43, 45, 46, 136, 137, 140, 141, 143, 145–48, 149, 150–53, 154–59, 161–63, 164, 165, 166–67, 168–74, 188, 194, 205, 206, 207, 217–18, 220, 221–23, 224, 225, 226, 227, 231nn1,2 Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), 3, 48, 49–50, 52, 53, 232n1; in León, 99, 100–103, 104, 105, 111, 113, 119, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 127–28, 130–31, 132, 232n1;

index in Nezahualcóyotl, 66, 67, 68–71, 72, 73, 77, 81, 82–83, 84, 85, 90, 91, 97, 103, 232n1, 233nn3,6, 234nn14,21 Partido Social Christão (PSC), 205 Partido Social Democrático Brasileiro (PSDB), 178 Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB), 138, 139, 140, 141, 144–45, 180–81, 201, 204, 206–7, 236n1 Partido Verde Ecologista Mexicano (PVEM), 72, 104, 127, 233n6 Patricio (Planejamento Participativo team member, Recife), 154–55 PCdoB. See Partido Comunista do Brasil PDM. See Partido Democrática Mexicano perceptions of participation. See actors’ perceptions of participation Perez, Carlos, 6, 28 Peruzzoti, Enrique, 23, 27 Piattoni, Simona, 29 Pimentel, Fernando, 181, 183, 204, 210–11 Pires, Julio (secretary of planning, Belo Horizonte), 210 Plattner, Marc F., 21 PMDB. See Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro political competition: in Belo Horizonte, 207, 213; in León, 15, 127–28, 129, 219, 224; in Nezahualcóyotl, 14, 89–93, 94, 127, 129, 207, 219, 224; between political parties, 9–10, 14, 15, 89–91, 94, 127–28, 129, 163–65, 207, 213, 218, 219, 220, 223–24; within political parties, 10, 14, 15, 61, 62–64, 71, 73, 82, 83, 91–92, 93–94, 128, 129, 165–67, 206–7, 213, 219, 220, 223, 223–24; in Recife, 15, 163–65, 207, 219, 220, 224; relationship to autonomy of civil society, 9, 15, 59, 60, 61, 62–64, 89, 92–93, 129, 218, 219, 220, 223–24 political elites, 21, 36, 38, 45, 49, 50, 68, 89–90, 98 political parties, 5, 8, 35–36, 56–57; and clientelism, 4, 28–29, 48–49, 52–53, 54, 55, 57, 63, 68–71, 90, 94, 97–98, 100–103, 106, 113, 114, 122, 123, 127, 153, 154–56, 167, 198; competition between, 9–10, 14, 15, 89–91, 94, 127–28, 129, 163–65, 207, 213, 218, 219, 220, 223–24; factions within, 10, 14, 15, 61, 62–64, 71, 73, 82, 83, 91–92, 93–94, 128, 165–67, 206–7, 219, 220, 223–24. See also informal practices political will, 41, 47, 56, 97, 144, 154


Pompermayer, Malori José, 177 Porras, Francisco, 113, 122, 124, 130 Porto Alegre: participatory budgeting (PB) in, 5, 27–28, 46, 48, 58, 142, 146, 182, 212, 237n1 poverty, 11, 18, 27, 41, 213, 228, 229–30 PRD. See Partido de Revolución Democrática PRI. See Partido Revolucionario Institucional Programa de Desenvolvimento de Comunidades (PRODECOM), 177–78 Przeworski, Adam, 22 PSB. See Partido Socialista Brasileiro PT. See Partido dos Trabalhadores Putnam, Robert D., 229 PVEM. See Partido Verde Ecologista Mexicano Quirós Echegaray, Luis Manuel, 107, 111 Quiroz, Ignacio, 101 RAMO 33, 76, 77, 232n2 Ramón, René, 234n20 Recife: actors’ perceptions of participation in, 170–72, 219, 220, 225–26, 226; vs. Belo Horizonte, 11, 43, 45, 56, 57, 61, 176, 177, 179, 184, 188, 194, 196, 198, 199, 201, 202, 203–4, 205, 206, 207, 209, 210, 212, 217, 219, 220, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 229; caravana de prioridades, 162–63, 202; Catholic Church in, 139, 140, 225; City Forum/Participatory Budgeting General Forum, 144, 149, 150, 160, 161, 164; clientelism in, 8, 15, 45, 46, 54, 57, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 142, 146, 149, 167, 173, 198, 209, 217, 219, 221, 226; Conselho do Orçamento Participativo (COP), 148, 162; conselhos gestores, 148, 235n4; disempowering cooption in, 15, 45, 46, 137, 139, 149, 153–55, 157, 163, 167–68, 169, 172, 173, 174, 194, 198, 203, 207, 217, 220, 226, 227–28; economic conditions in, 11, 136, 137–38; Frente do Recife, 138; history of associationalism in, 53–54, 138–39, 159, 161, 165, 221; informal practices in, 46, 149, 153–54, 155, 159, 172, 173, 174, 194, 196, 203, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227–28; lack of autonomy in, 152–58, 169, 170, 171–72, 173–74, 194, 203, 212, 217–18, 220, 223, 224, 226, 227–28; Lei Orgãnica do Município do Recife, 142; vs. León, 11, 45, 56, 57, 158–59, 174, 217, 222–23, 224, 225, 226, 227–28, 229; location, 17, 136; mayor Lima e Silva, 137, 141, 145–46,



150–51, 155, 157, 159, 166–67, 169, 171; mayor Magalhães, 137, 141, 143, 144, 146, 164, 165–66; mayor Silveira, 138; mayor Vasconcelos, 54, 137, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 153, 164, 165, 167; military rule in, 138–39; mobilization in, 137, 146, 149–63, 203, 217–18, 219, 221, 222–23, 227–28, 229; mocambos in, 138, 235n2; municipal council, 102, 104, 106, 110, 120, 126, 128, 129, 148, 150, 153, 154, 155–56, 157, 166, 170, 205, 235n9; neighborhood associations in, 136, 138–39, 144, 150, 151, 152, 154–55, 160, 165, 167, 168; vs. Nezahualcóyotl, 8, 45, 56, 57, 126, 158, 171, 217, 219, 220, 222, 224, 225, 226, 229; NGOs in, 168, 235n10; participatory budgeting (PB) in, 7–8, 15, 43, 44, 45, 46, 136, 137, 142–74, 184, 188, 194, 198, 199, 201, 202, 203, 205, 207, 209, 210, 212, 217–18, 221–23, 225, 226–28, 229, 231nn1,2, 235nn5,8; PFL/PMDB coalition in, 8, 15, 43, 45, 46, 57, 136, 137, 140, 141, 143–45, 153–54, 158, 164–65, 165–66, 167, 217, 219, 221, 222, 224, 225, 226, 229, 231nn1,2; political competition in, 15, 163–65, 207, 219, 220, 224; population, 136, 137; Programa de Regularização das Zonas Especiais Interesse Social (PREZEIS), 140, 146, 165, 168, 169, 236n10; PSB in, 138, 139, 140, 141, 144–45; PT in, 8, 43, 45, 46, 136, 137, 140, 141, 143, 145–48, 149, 150–53, 154–59, 161–63, 164, 165, 166–67, 168–74, 188, 194, 205, 206, 207, 217–18, 220, 221–23, 224, 225, 226, 227, 231nn1,2; public services/goods in, 138, 152, 156, 162, 164, 236n10; Recife-PFL/PMDB (PPB/ PB), 8, 45, 46, 137, 143–45, 146, 148, 149–51, 152–54, 155, 158–61, 163–66, 167–68, 170, 172–73, 217, 219, 221–22, 225, 229, 231nn1,2, 235n1; Recife-PT (PB), 8, 45, 46, 137, 145–48, 152–53, 158–59, 165, 166–67, 173–74, 188, 194, 199, 203, 205, 217–18, 220, 221–23, 225, 227–28, 231nn1,2 Reding, Andrew, 124 Rezende Afonso, Mariza, 176, 177, 178 Rezende, Antonio Paulo, 138, 207, 235nn1,2 Rezende, Flávio, 144 Rodrigo (COPACI president, Nezahualcóyotl), 66, 79, 81, 97 Rodriguez, Victoria E., 48, 49 Rogério (PB delegate and COMFORÇA member, Belo Horizonte), 192, 194–95, 201, 208

Roniger, Luis, 4, 28, 29 Rozowykwiat, Joana, 166 Rúben (PB program manager, Belo Horizonte), 211, 214 Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, 34 rule of law, 1, 19, 21–23, 232n2 Samuels, David J., 49, 50 Sánchez Jiménez, Vnancio Luis, 72 Santos, Heuner, 155 Schedler, Andreas, 18, 21, 22, 23 Schettini, Eleonora, 177 Schmitter, Philippe C., 23 Schteingart, Martha, 68, 69, 70, 73, 92, 233n4 Selee, Andrew D., 6, 52, 67, 69, 83, 233n4, 234n14 Shefner, Jon, 4, 29, 48 Shirk, David A., 53, 101, 105, 128; Mexico’s New Politics, 234n1 Shugart, Matthew S., 22 Silva, Neide, 142, 169, 229 Silveira, Pelópidas, 138 Silvia (PB delegate, Recife), 149, 156, 159, 164, 171 Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Seguro Social (SNTSS), 102 Sinhué Rodriguez, Diego (PAN regidor, León), 119, 132 Sistema Nacional de Planeación Democrática (SNDP), 50–51, 58, 76, 107 slums: colonias populares, 67, 102, 233n1; favelas, 11, 58, 138, 140, 142, 168, 176–77, 178, 179, 192–93, 214, 235n10 Smulovitz, Catalina, 23 SNDP. See Sistema Nacional de Planeación Democrática social inequality, 11, 24, 27, 33, 37–38, 40, 178. See also poverty social justice, 27, 214 Somarriba, Mercês, 177, 179, 194, 202 Somers, Margaret R., 20 Souto-Maior Fontes, Breno Augusto, 54, 150, 160 Souza, Celina, 187, 213 state-society relationships, 6, 13–14, 23–25; changes in, 25–31; and municipal officials, 95–96; and political will, 41, 47, 56, 97, 144, 154; and politicians, 4, 16, 22, 28, 29, 31, 35, 41, 47, 49, 52, 54, 55, 62–64, 86, 91–93, 95–96, 105, 119, 121, 127, 131–32, 156–57, 163, 166–67, 194, 196–97, 198,

index 223–24; and state officials, 41, 64–65; and success of participatory democracy, 7–10, 11, 12, 14, 19–23, 25–31, 44, 55, 60, 97–98, 216, 222; typology of, 7–8, 31–40, 41, 44, 45, 56, 59–60, 216–18, 219, 220, 227, 232n4. See also autonomy of civil society; clientelism; democratic cooperation; disempowering cooption; fragmented inclusion; informal practices; mobilization Stepan, Alfred, 1 Stokes, Susan C., 22 success of participatory democracy, 6–10, 25, 65; as deepening of democracy, 1–2, 7, 8, 10, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23–25, 26–27, 30, 33, 35, 36, 37, 40, 41, 43–44, 59–60, 131–32, 135, 172, 179, 215, 218, 222, 226, 227, 232n3; definitions of, 2–3, 7–8, 14, 18–20, 26–31, 40–41, 42, 43, 44–45, 113, 186, 216; levels of success, 9–10, 12, 14–15, 21, 29–30, 33, 34, 40, 42, 51, 213, 216–18, 226–27; relationship to accountability, 2, 8, 20, 27, 28, 33, 38, 40, 201–2, 214, 226, 227, 230; relationship to associational vitality, 45, 47, 228; relationship to autonomy, 7–8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 31, 32–33, 44, 51, 59–60, 93, 135, 158–59, 163, 172, 173–74, 176, 194–98, 203–12, 213–14, 216, 217, 218, 220, 222–26, 226, 227; relationship to empowerment, 2, 6, 26–27, 28, 31, 187, 191; relationship to ideological commitment, 47, 56–57, 194–95, 223, 237n1; relationship to institutional design, 2–3, 44–45, 55–59, 60–62, 86–89, 122–27, 134, 158–63, 172–73, 199, 213, 218, 221–22, 226; relationship to mobilization, 7–8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 31, 32–34, 41, 59–60, 172–74, 188–94, 199–203, 217, 218, 222, 227–28; relationship to previous associationalism, 11, 47, 51–55, 60–62, 64, 221; and statesociety relationships, 7–10, 11, 12, 14, 19–23, 25–31, 44, 55, 60, 97–98, 216, 222 Szwarcberg, Mariela, 63 Tavera Hernández, Guadalupe, 121 Texcoco district, 67


Thelen, Kathleen, 44 Tocqueville, Alexis de: on health of a democracy, 1 Touchton, Michael, 27, 230 Trejo Palomino, Maria Teresa (PRI regidora, León), 119, 125, 132 Tuohy, William S., 48 UBADEZ, 83 UGOCEM, 83 Unión Cívica de León (UCL), 101 Unión Nacional Sinarquísta (UNS), 101 Unión Popular Revolucionario Emiliano Zapata (UPREZ), 71, 83, 84, 92 Valença, Isabela, 169, 236n10 Valencia García, Guadalupe, 53, 101, 104, 105, 106, 117, 127 Vasconcelos, Jarbas, 54, 137, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 153, 164, 165, 167 Vázquez Hernández, Rubén, 73 Verba, Sidney, 13 Vicente (CODEMUN president, Nezahualcóyotl), 79, 80, 81, 85, 96 Wampler, Brian, 6, 19, 26, 27, 28, 45, 58, 229, 230, 232n5; on Belo Horizonte, 177, 180, 187–88, 196, 205, 206, 237n6; on cooperation of CSOs with local government, 236n5; on political will, 47; on previous associationalism, 47, 52, 60; on Recife, 54, 142, 144, 150, 153, 159, 160, 164, 165, 235n1 Warren, Mark E., 32 Weber, Max, 232n4 Weitz-Shapiro, Rebecca, 63 Welna, Christopher, 21 Wilkinson, Steven I., 29 Wood, Patricia K., 31 Wood, Terence, 187, 201, 229 World Bank, 58, 59 Wright, Erik Olin, 5, 6, 44, 45, 57 Zedillo, Ernesto, 232n2 Zepede, Juan, 72 Ziccardi, Alicia, 232n2