Participatory Budgeting: Case Study of Possible Causes of Failures

Keywords: Participatory budgeting, Failure, Czech Republic, Local government, Process-tracing


Participatory budgeting is perhaps the most widespread and popular form of democratic innovation (DI). It is often identified as an appropriate tool to deepen the democracy at the local level. The text shows that this is not always the case, as some elected officials may use it as a innovation “façade” or its design suffers from various forms of imperfections leading to its failure to be implemented. The authors focus on the practice of participatory budgeting and its failures in the Czech Republic. Through the empirical testing of causal mechanism, the article reveals the main causes of that failure, in the case of its implementation in Prague 7 borough. The mechanism presented is based on the theory-testing minimal process-tracing design in which part of the findings of the previous research have been tested. It also attempts to support empirically only the significant steps of the mechanism between cause and outcome. In particular, the three scope conditions are tested: political support, sufficient funding for participatory budgeting and the existence of a source of know-how. Authors conclude that in the selected case, there was a domino effect of failure, with successive failures in all observed conditions, which ultimately led to a complete brake of causal mechanism and failure of participatory budgeting tool.


BARDOVIČ, J. and GAŠPARÍK, J. (2021). Enablers of Participatory Budgeting in Slovakia During the COVID-19 Pandemic. In: Scientific Papers of the University of Pardubice, Series D: Faculty of Economics and Administration. [online]. Vol. 29, No. 1. DOI: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
BEACH, D. and PEDERSEN, R. B. (2018). Selecting Appropriate Cases When Tracing Causal Mechanisms. In: Sociological Methods & Research. [online]. Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 837–871. DOI: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
BEACH, D. and PEDERSEN, R. B. (2019). Process-Tracing Methods: Foundations and Guidelines. Michigan: University of Michigan Press. 328 pp. DOI:
BENNETT, A. and CHECKEL, J. T. (2014). Process-Tracing: From Metaphor to Analytical Tool. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI:
ČERNÝ, V. (2016). Metodika tvorby participativního rozpočtu pro města v ČR. Praha: Agora CE. 47 pp.
DE RENZIO, P., SPADA, P. and WAMPLER, B. (2019). Paradise Lost? The Crisis of Participatory Budgeting in Its Own Birthplace. In: International Budget Partnership. 25th November [Blog]. Available at: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
DIAS, N. (2019). Participatory Budgeting World Atlas 2019. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
ELSTUB, S. and ESCOBAR, O. (2017). A Typology of Democratic Innovations. In: Political Studies Association’s Annual Conference. [online]. Glasgow. Available at: [31st August 2021].
ELSTUB, S. and ESCOBAR, O. (2019). The Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. 624 pp. DOI:
FEATHERSTONE, L. (2018). Participatory Budgeting: Why not Fix Everyone’s Sink? [online]. Available at: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
GEISSEL, B. (2012). Democratic Innovations: Theoretical and Empirical Challenges of Evaluation. In: Geissel, B. and Newton, K. eds. Evaluating Democratic Innovations. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 209–214.
HENDRIKS, C. M. and LEES-MARSHMENT, J. (2018). Political Leaders and Public Engagement. In: Political Studies. [online]. pp. 1–21. DOI: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
HRABINOVÁ, A. (2018). Metodika hodnotenia procesov participatívneho rozpočtovania pre mapovanie skúseností s participatívnym rozpočtovaním v prostredí miestnej územnej samosprávy na Slovensku. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
HURTÍKOVÁ, H. and SOUKOP, M. (2019). Participative and Deliberative Democracy on the Local Level: How the Political Characteristics of Municipalities in the Czech Republic Relate to the Use of Selected Democratic Innovation within Their Teritory? In: Lex Localis. [online]. Vol. 17, No. 2. DOI: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
KLIMOVSKÝ, D. et al. (2021). Participatívne rozpočtovanie (kontexty, modely a paktické skúsenosti). Bratislava: Wolters Kluwer SK. 144 pp.
MADEJ, M. (2019). Participatory Budgeting in the Major Cities in Poland – Case Study of 2018 Editions. In: Politics in Central Europe. [online]. Vol. 15, No. 2. DOI: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
MAZÁK, J. (2017). Process Tracing: Zkoumání kauzality v případových studiích. In: Sociológia. [online]. Vol. 49, No. 1, pp. 55–80. Available at: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
MENŠÍKOVÁ, V, BOUCHAL, P. and RÁKOS, T. (2018). Propojit Prahu: Současná praxe participace a vize pro její systémové zakotvení. Praha: Společnost Demokracie. 180 pp.
MURRAY SVIDROŇOVÁ, M. and KLIMOVSKÝ, D. (forthcoming). Participatory Budgeting in Slovakia: Recent Development, Present State, and Interesting Cases. In: De Vries, M., Nemec, J. and Špaček, D. eds. International Trends in Participatory Budgeting: Between Trivial Pursuits and Best Practices. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 247-269. DOI:
NEWTON, K. (2012). Curing the Democratic Malaise with Democratic Innovations. In: Geissel, B. and Newton. K. eds. Evaluating Democratic Innovations. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 3–20.
RODGERS, D. (2010). Contingent Democratisation? The Rise and Fall of Participatory Budgeting in Buenos Aires on JSTOR. In: Journal of Latin American Studies. [online]. Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 1–27. DOI: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
ŠARADÍN, P., SOUKOP, M, ZAPLETALOVÁ, M. and HURTÍKOVÁ, H. (forthcoming). Challenging Citizens. Democratic Innovations at the Local Level: The Case Study of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland. Cham: Springer.
SMITH, G. (2009). Democratic innovations. Designing Institutions for Citizen Participation. New York: Cambridge University Press. DOI:
SPADA, P. and RYAN, M. (2017). The Failure to Examine Failures in Democratic Innovations. In: Politics Symposium. [online]. Vol. 50, No. 3, pp. 772–778. DOI: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
THOMPSON, N. (2019). The Role of Elected Representatives in Democratic Innovations. In: Elstub, S. and Escobar, O. eds. Handbook of Democratic Innovations and Governance. Cheltenham and Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 255–268. DOI:
VOJTÍŠKOVÁ, K. (2016). Česká cesta k participativnímu rozpočtování. In: Smart Cities. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
WALKER, E. T., MCQUARRIE, M. and LEE, C. W. (2015). Rising Participation and Declining Democracy. In: Lee, C. W., McQuarrie, M. and Walker, E. T. eds. Democratizing Inequalities. Dilemmas of the New Public Participation. New York and London: New York University Press, pp. 3–23. DOI:
ZAPLETALOVÁ, M., SOUKOP, M. and ŠARADÍN, P. (2020). Praxe participativních rozpočtů v České republice. Případová studie obce s rozšířenou působností Semily. In: Sociológia - Slovak Sociological Review. [online]. Vol. 52, No. 2, pp. 180–200. DOI: [Accessed 31st August 2021].
How to Cite
Soukop, M., Šaradín, P., & Zapletalová, M. (2021, December 31). Participatory Budgeting: Case Study of Possible Causes of Failures. Slovak Journal of Political Sciences, 21(2), 139-160. Retrieved from