The e-Democracia portal was set up in 2009 by the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, the aim being to make legislation more transparent, to improve citizens’ understanding of the legislative process, and to make the chamber more accessible and interactive.
Many of the experiments for the e-Democracia portal are conducted within the chamber’s own innovation lab – 'LabHacker' – which hosts hackathons and collaborative pilots with civil society and parliamentary staff.
The e-Democracia platform includes ‘virtual communities’ - web conversations dedicated to debates on specific topics - and ‘Wikilegis’ - a tool which allows direct commenting or contribution on specific articles or sections of a draft bill.
Using these tools, the Youth Statute Bill crowdsourced 30 per cent of its final text from young people across the country.
LabHacker/e-Democracia: Screenshot of the new e-Democracia portal
Crucial for these processes is the work of legislative consultants who work as ‘technical translators’; summarising and presenting people’s ideas to representatives, while reporting back to the people on how their input was used.
In all cases, it is up to the representatives to make the final choice as to whether citizen contributions are used or not.
The team’s future goals include broadening and measuring representation of people who use the platform. Despite around 37,000 registered users (and over 50 million views), there's still more work required to raise awareness of the platform among the general public.