• Renovation, Innovation and Subversion

    "Maybe the most interesting clamor should have been for innovation, not just renovation."

  • In the last election, sectors of civil society used the expression “renovation” when they referred to the eagerness of society for change, whether of specific Members of Parliament but also in how politics is done. Newly elected Members of Parliament are seeing in constant contact with their constituents, mostly through online tools such as social media, trying to communicate directly in real time. Although the renovation movement was important to answer for the demands of sectors within the Brazilian society, such renovation process has brought with it the inexperience of freshly elected MPs, but little changes in regard to legislative processes. Maybe the most interesting clamor should have been for innovation, not just renovation.


    Innovation is not a simple task: it requires a well-defined challenge, methodology, as well as a deep understanding of the society dynamics. The challenges within our society are complex, the proposed solution should follow on its complexity on its reading. Innovate shouldn't be the simply the development of new technologies, after all, technology is just a tool. In a bureaucratic environment, such as politics, if you do not solve processes, technology can become the simple automation of bureaucracy.


    Innovation in politics is precisely the search for ways to create something new in order to help society move forward. It is, essentially, about the concept of inclusion, of bringing citizens closer to politics, of reducing distances and promoting dialogue with different people. Brazil is the third most unequal Country in the world, and this inequality is also represented in the relationship between politicians and citizens. We need to promote co-creation and co-participation initiatives, we need to make political expressions understandable to all society, shedding “light” on political processes, and open Legislative Houses.


    The good news is that there are MPs already aiming at innovating political practices, such as The Hon. State Representative Marina Helou. She held a legislative task force that mobilised more than 100 people to analyse more than 300 bills on the Legislative agenda. A catalog of bills was created, which, if they come in for voting, is already analysed by the citizens.


    One of the main attributions of the Legislative Houses is the budget approval. The Activist Bench (this MP chair is divided by a group of activities) in partnership with the Legislative Institute of the State Assembly promoted a free course teaching those who are interested in the budgetary procedures to claim available public funds to the municipalities and NGOs.


    These funds are called “parliamentary amendments”. They are individual quotas of the public budget to which MPs have access and for which they allocate their funds to enable poor regions, but also civil society actions and projects. In this way, NGOs may ask MPs to allocate a certain amount to a project. Some Members, such as The Hon. Tábata Amaral (PDT-SP), The Hon. Marcelo Freixo (PSOL-RJ), The Hon. Felipe Rigoni (PSB-ES), The Hon. Marina Helou (REDE-SP), The Hon. Tiago Mitraud (NOVO), The Hon. Guilherme da Cunha (NOVO) and The Hon. Paulo Ganime (NOVO) haven taken the initiative to issue calls for proposals for parliamentary amendments. Public Notices are the official channel for society's access to the distribution of parliamentary amendment resources, however these MPs proposed new formats to boost transparency and break the quid pro quo related to parliamentary funds and electoral support.


    In São Paulo City Council, Councilman Police Neto (PSD) issued the “Civic Call” Notice, open to citizens and neighbourhood associations to elaborate projects on public squares. This project came from the need of citizens and neighbourhood associations to take direct care of their squares, a land today dominated by investments from the private sector. Here the disruptive element is that any citizen can design a project and receive public funding to take care of the squares of their city.


    The perception of the representation of Brazilian politics faces a series of challenges. The change in the current political scene comes from the shortening of the distance between citizens and public life, through a system of co-responsibility. The topic of public money distribution has been addressed in this article and how one can think on more democratic and transparent ways of doing so. Voters and citizens play a key role in the allocation of public money. From the clear perception of the collective belonging of the city, the Brazilian society can propose solutions to its long list of problems, sharing responsibility in an empathic dialogue between the political parties. To innovate within the rules of the political game,

  • Gisele Agnelli