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Titiana-Petra Ertiö, Pekka Tuominen, Mikko Rask

Turning Ideas into Proposals: A Case for Blended Participation During the Participatory Budgeting Trial in Helsinki


Abstract Balancing between online-offline stages of participatory procedures is a delicate art that may support or hinder the success of participatory democracy. Participatory budgeting (PB), in particular, is generally rooted in online platforms, but as our case study on the City of Helsinki PB trial suggests, face-to-face events are necessary to engage targeted and often less resourceful actors in the process. Based on a longer-term participant observation, covering the PB process from its early to ideation phase to the current stage of proposal development for the final vote, we argue that the process has thus far been successful in blending online-offline components, largely supported by the active support of borough liaisons who have served as navigators between the different stages. From the point of view of co-creation, different stages of the PB process (ideation, co-creation) call for different strategies of online-offline participation. Effective mobilization of marginalized actors and interactions between public servants and citizens seem to benefit from face-to-face processes, while city-wide voting and discussion can effectively occur in the online platform.