Participation is a fundamental principle of the Italian Constitution (art. 3). Nonetheless its enforcement was rather weak in the first decades of Italian Republic. Only from the nineties on – especially after many Italian authorities and citizens had direct knowledge of the Participatory budgeting of Porto Alegre – the simple participation evolved into various forms of Participatory Democracy. Many Italian municipalities of various dimensions developed it, creating a number of original experiments on a new model of administration. The fact is all the more remarkable as Italy in the last decade has been dominated by populism of the Berlusconi variety.  This study analyses the leading principles of participatory democracy as it is now practiced in Italy and clarifies their principal purposes, hoping for their development as a means to “democratize democracy”
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