A Participatory Democratic Budgeting Algorithm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The budget is the key means for effecting policy in democracies, yet its preparation is typically an excluding, opaque, and arcane process. We aim to rectify this by providing for the democratic creation of complete budgets --- for cooperatives, cities, or states. Such budgets are typically (i) prepared, discussed, and voted upon by comparing and contrasting with last-year's budget, (ii) quantitative, in that items appear in quantities with potentially varying costs, and (iii) hierarchical, reflecting the organization's structure. Our process can be used by a budget committee, the legislature or the electorate at large. We allow great flexibility in vote elicitation, from perturbing last-year's budget to a complete ranked budget proposal. We present a polynomial-time algorithm which takes such votes, last-year's budget, and a budget limit as input and produces a budget that is provably "democratically optimal" (Condorcet-consistent), in that no proposed change to it has majority support among the votes.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 18 Sep 2017


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