Participatory Democracy? Exploring Peru's Efforts to Engage Civil Society in Local Governance



As institutions are created to engage citizens and civil society organizations more directly, who participates, and what effect does participation have? This article explores two of Peru's participatory institutions, the Regional Coordination Councils and the participatory budgets, created in 2002. Specifically it asks, once these institutions are set up, do organizations participate in them? and what effect does this participation have on the organizations? The data show that the participatory processes in Peru are including new voices in decisionmaking, but this inclusion has limits. Limited inclusion has, in turn, led to limited changes specifically in nongovernmental organizations. As a result, the democratizing potential of the participatory institutions is evident yet not fully realized.