18 | 28, pp. 17-36 | doxa.comunicación

January-June of 2019

Public deliberation and participation in the Madrid City Council budgets (2016-2018)

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

1. Introduction and rationale

Citizen participation is one of the great issues of our time. In public opinion, culture, political communication, the party system and representation, as well as in numerous areas of research, interest in this topic has multiplied as an instrument for the citizen involvement in the management and administration of public policies.

Participation does not operate in isolation; rather, it needs public communication support to allow for a process of deliberation, for the organization of ideas, and for the encouragement of pluralism within the participation act itself.

The research question that has guided this work is the following: How has citizen participation evolved in the municipal budgets of the City of Madrid? In addition, what role has communication played in this process?

The research is based on the following hypotheses:

H1. Interest in participation has increased, but these are low figures (less than 10% of registered voters).

H2. The organized groups transfer their participation to the municipal budgets. Their political or social nature is not important. What is important is their previous organisation in the district (influence, activism, and involvement in associations).

H3. Participation requires a prior process of deliberation and a certain degree of expert knowledge in order for the results to be viable, sustainable, and not just desiderative. Access to information does not guarantee its intelligibility.

1.1. The professionalization of political communication in public institutions and the restoration of social trust

The communication of public institutions is a polysemy concept that adapts itself to different processes of a political nature such as institutional communication, electoral marketing, reputation, trust management and other items of public management (Canel and Sanders, 2012). It also structures public space (Castells, 2009), because that is where social actors, political parties, governments and citizens come together to make their demands and exchange arguments or emotions.

In this shared space, meanings are negotiated and the political culture of power and counter-power is created. Moreover, political communication has a “performative, or consequential effect” (López, Gamir and Valera, 2018: 56) because

participation mechanisms, although the figures are still quite small. Moreover, it has been shown that these organized groups play an important role in presenting proposals. Finally, it has been determined that participation requires a previous process of deliberation and a certain degree of expert knowledge in order for the results to be viable and sustainable, not only desirable.


Participatory budgets; participation; citizenship; public politics; governance.

rés ciudadanos en estos mecanismos de participación, aunque aún se mueve en cifras poco destacables, y que los grupos organizados tienen un papel relevante a la hora de presentar propuestas. Por úl-timo, se concluye que la participación requiere un proceso previo de deliberación y un cierto grado de conocimiento experto para que los resultados sean viables, sostenibles y no solo deseables.

Palabras clave:

Presupuestos participativos; participación; ciudadanía; políticas públicas; gobernanza.