Irish Political Studies has just published Prof. John Baker's interesting analysis of the MBC vote, which was used in the 2007 election by the Irish Green Party/Comhaontas Glas when they elected their Cathaoirleach/chair, and here it is.
Participatory Budgeting (PB) first came to prominence in Porto Alegre in Brazil in 1988. Simply put, it allows local people not only to prioritise expenditures, but also to come to a collective decision on the allocation of funds. This can hardly be done by a majority vote, but it can be done by ranking the various options in order of preference, i.e. by an MBC. Rankings can be measured in other ways, of course; but in June 2008, in a paper on consensus voting presented at a PB seminar held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, this Institute argued for the MBC. In the subsequent round-up of opinions, much enthusiam was expressed: and in the words of one participamt, "I am persuaded".
Participatory budgeting is not a threat to representative democracy; rather, the former can enhance the latter. We hope other pilots will follow.
OurKingdom, the new economics foundation and the de Borda Institute recently gave interested parties from think tanks, research groups and campaigning organisations, as well as members of the general public, the opportunity to participate in an online trial of consensus decision making.