The New Public Management movement regards citizens as customers and, accordingly, focuses on the quality of services provided by public-sector organizations. Since this approach negatively affected democratic values, there has been a shift of the focus from consumer satisfaction and quality of services to quality of governance. The latter implies the improvement of the relationship between government and citizens as active members of the community. Over the last twenty years, participatory budgeting (PB) has become a popular form of co-production intended to improve the quality of local governance. The aim of the article is to provide a comparative analysis of the use and role of PB in Croatia, Poland and Slovakia and to identify the models of PB used in selected countries. In order to compare the case studies of municipalities in selected countries, a qualitative analysis has been used and the classification of PB models applied. Most analyzed local units use the “Porto Alegre adapted for Europe” model, but the “Consultation on public finances”, “Representation of Organized Interest” and “Proximity participation” models are also represented. The main findings are that PB indeed enables better allocation of public sources according to citizens’ needs (various public services were delivered following the trend of social innovation and co-creation), but the problem lies in the low amount assigned for PB from public budgets and the relatively low interest of citizens to participate in the PB processes. PB might also bring certain risks linked with its implementation, e.g. misuse of the idea for political reasons or additional costs of projects delivered in the PB process.
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