Senado Federal do Brasil
The digital age has brought about significant changes in various aspects of society, including the way democratic institutions function. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the need for parliaments to adapt to new technologies and maintain their operations in a rapidly changing world. In a recent interview, U.S. Congressman James McGovern, former Brazilian Senator Antonio Anastasia, and Bússola Tech’s Executive Director Luís Kimaid discussed the challenges faced by legislative institutions and the steps they are taking to modernise and become more digital-ready.
The Impact of the Pandemic on Democratic Institutions
In 2020, the pandemic disrupted societies and their way of life, including democratic institutions. These institutions had to adapt to the new reality of public debate at a distance. Ensuring the continuity of legislative activities was essential for maintaining the balance of power and preventing authoritarian tendencies from taking hold. The pandemic served as a catalyst for exploring digital solutions and adapting parliamentary procedures to enable remote work and decision-making.
Lessons Learned from the Pandemic
Both Congressman McGovern and Senator Anastasia emphasised that their respective institutions were unprepared for the sudden shift to remote operations. However, they recognized the importance of learning from the experience and creating strategies for modernising their parliaments to make them more digital, effective, and resilient in the face of future crises. They also acknowledged the importance of maintaining legislative traditions and internal balance of power while embracing new technologies.
A Vision for a Digital-Ready Legislative House
Looking a decade ahead, the interviewees discussed the need to foster an environment that encourages the momentum of institutional modernization. Congressman McGovern highlighted the creation of a special select committee on the modernization of Congress, tasked with evaluating the changes implemented during the pandemic and determining which should be retained in the post-pandemic era. In Brazil, Senator Anastasia noted that there was widespread support for adopting remote deliberation systems, and the focus now should be on refining and expanding these systems.
The conversation between U.S. Congressman James McGovern, former Brazilian Senator Antonio Anastasia, and Bússola Tech’s Executive Director Luís Kimaid underscores the importance of adapting legislative institutions to the digital age. The pandemic has exposed the need for rapid modernization and digital readiness, and the experiences shared by these leaders offer valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities presented by this ongoing transformation.
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