The Parliamentary Caucus as a Space for Collaboration and Innovation in Municipal Legislative Houses
Luis Kimaid, Director of Bússola Tech, shared with Members of Parliament attending the ceremony to begin the work of the Parliamentary Caucus for Strengthening of Municipal Legislatives, the opportunities the legislative has with the Technological Revolution. In the center of the table is the President of the Parliamentary Front, The Hon. Aline Gurgel, on the right side the President of FENALEGIS, Antonio Carlos Fernandes Lima Junior.
Parliamentary Caucus, or popularly known as "Bancadas", are key instruments in building agendas and organising the legislative activity in Brazil, concerning joint actions, articulating with MPs and their leaders, as well as with political parties themselves.
The current legislature of both Houses of Congress in Brazil has 253 parliamentary Caucuses installed, but this article will deep dive on a particular one, the Parliamentary Caucus for the Strengthening of Municipal Legislatives, chaired by The Hon. Aline Gurgel.
The reader may be confused and wonder: Why should I care about a Parliamentary Caucus out of 253? And how can a Parliamentary Caucus for the Municipal Legislative Strengthening could catalyse the Innovation agenda in Parliament? The answer is who will be ultimately impacted by the work of the parliamentary Caucus, the citizen. Paraphrasing Brazilian Political Scientist Humberto Dantas, "the City Council is the closest formal and plural political space to citizens."
Brazil has 5,599 Legislative Houses, between Municipalities, State Assemblies, District Councils and the National Congress. There are 57 thousand councillors. Most city councils are small towns, with 85% of them ranging from 9 to 11 councillors.
The Legislative House by nature is a consensus-building space, with checks and balances in its decisions, safeguarding the fundamental guarantees and plurality of ideas. In turn, the internet-connected society has a different speed and dynamics of interaction, which can create a series of challenges for the Legislative Houses to reformulate their communication with citizens and open itself for more participation in their decision-making process.
The usage of the internet by citizens has a fundamental aspect on the relationship between them and the municipal legislature. According to the study "We are social" the average time spent by Brazilian citizens on the Internet is 9 hours a day. The increasingly low cost of accessing spaces for debate brings to light the possibility of participation in the decision-making process for large sections of the population.
The coordination of horizontal political action is enhanced, since individuals usage the Internet and its connection potential for networking provides the opportunity for new connections between political actors. Increased Internet access has facilitated the organisation of networks with broad coalitions with horizontal links and connections between diverse elements. For the first time in human history it is possible to communicate across vast portions of space in a minimal period of time, relativizing limitations of the physical world.
Broadening the role of the Legislative Houses through new mechanisms of participation and transparency, especially in the City Councils, is the latest challenge that demands collaboration between civil servants, Members of Parliament and civil society, and yet a wider exchange of experiences between the City Councils, Assemblies and the National Congress.
Improving the quality of interaction between city councils and residents will require a way of thinking that failing is part of the learning process. Error should be treated as an opportunity to learn and to be an important step in validating hypotheses and should be shared, as well as success stories, since the other 5569 City Councils can learn from the knowledge already built.
There are other instances that seek to articulate a common agenda among the Councillors, and also among the municipal legislature's servants, with specific guidelines that are important to these groups.
There is ample room for collaboration on practices that increase the efficiency on legislative support activities and give civil servants and councillors the best conditions for discussing the legislative agenda, reporting to the citizen which is the main stakeholder. Legislative production has simple implementation experiments that increase their quality, the participation of society, and promote new forms of representation that are currently used in some Houses, and with the necessary local adaptations, can be replicated in scale and improved by the other City Councils.
The Parliamentary Caucus for the Strengthening of Municipal Legislatives makes possible the existence of a space of recognition of the importance of these Houses and makes possible the creation of a space of exchange and collaboration between the Municipal Legislative Houses and the National Congress.