Author Biography

Vera S P Coelho holds a PhD in Social Sciences, and is the Coordinator of the Nucleus for Citizenship, Health and Development (NCSD) at CEBRAP and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Metropolitan Studies (CEM) and at the Public Policies Post Graduate Program of the Federal University of ABC.

Laura Trajber Waisbich holds a Master’s in Political Sciences and International Relations. She collaborates with different research and policy activities within CEBRAP and is also Foreign Policy Officer at Conectas Human Rights.


Brazil is known for being one of the most unequal countries in the world. Since the 1990s many scholars, both in Brazil and those analyzing the country¹s trajectories from abroad, have been describing a decrease in country¹s inequalities. In this article we discuss the possible role of expanding citizen participation in policy making processes and overseeing their implementation in inequality reduction. To do so we explore the connections between the participatory mechanisms and the implementation of policies that are expected to reduce inequalities in two different participatory experiments that have taken place in Brazil: São Paulo municipal health councils and the country¹s participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP). We argue that, despite their thematic and historical differences, there are good reasons to believe that these two participatory experiences sustained the expectations concerning their role in contributing to reduced inequalities. However, these cases suggest that their contributions were less determined by the quality of the participatory process, as defined by the deliberative democracy literature, than by the nature of political alliances and mobilization processes that supported these spaces.