Subnational Legislative Houses in Brazil: Interparliamentary Cooperation

Read Márcio Coimbra’s from Interlegis | Brazilian Federal Senate article

Author(s) in this article:

Institution(s) represented in this article: 

💡 tip: Click on author(s) or organisation(s) name(s) to access more content related to them. 

This content is supported by:

 

 


 

The Interlegis program was created by the Brazilian Senate House in 1997 to modernise and integrate the Brazilian legislatures and towards that we work with the most modern technologies.

 

This expertise could not be restricted to Brasilia, our capital, precisely for that reason our mission is to take these tools to the State Legislatures and City Councils of Brazil. Technology has the power to shorten distances, bringing people together and integrating institutions.

 

By disseminating knowledge and transferring technology to legislative houses, Interlegis contributes to the strengthening of democracy to the extent that it offers conditions for them to perform efficiently and transparently in the administrative and legislative activities and to facilitate citizens’s access to the work being carried out.

 

During the pandemic, our team quickly adapted to the new reality and thus we were able to implement technological innovations, so that legislative houses could continue parliamentary activities in a virtual way.

 

The support system for the remote legislative process – whose acronym in portuguese is SAPLR – was made available by Interlegis at the end of March 2020 and has allowed legislative houses to deliberate remotely.

 

The platform also allows for committee meetings and deliberations, but most requests have been for plenary sessions.

 

The implementation of the videoconference solution for remote sessions followed an example from the Brazilian Senate House that used the video conference platform Zoom to hold the first virtual plenary session.

 

As Interlegis’s products and services are free of charge for legislative houses, our team found a free solution to meet the demand of City Councils and State Legislatures.

 

The essence of our work is to be freely accessible, that is, to promote the modernisation and integration to Brazilian legislatures free of charge.

 

For voting, we chose to use the support system for the legislative process, whose acronym in portuguese is SAPL, and for virtual meetings we use the Jitsi Meet platform. SAPLR is the integration of Jitsi Meet, the SAPL tool, which already included in the package the technological tools offered by Interlegis and used by more than 1,200, out of the 5,595 subnational legislative houses in Brazil.

 

In addition to the voting process with an electronic panel, SAPL provides the registration of the agenda and legislative proposals, the names of authors and rapporteurs, the attendance list, the registration for speeches, the formulation of points of order, and the compilation of legal rules.

 

The video conference system, used for remote plenary sessions, allows the transmission of these sessions through YouTube and Facebook, providing citizens with the same transparency levels offered before the pandemic.

 

It is important to note that the functioning of sessions in parliaments is regulated in Brazil by the internal rules of each legislature..

 

As there was still no provision for a remote session, it was necessary to pass resolutions and laws to regulate this new reality of legislative houses.

 

Regarding the security of SAPLR, we have not heard of any invasion of Jitsi Meet video conferencing rooms.

 

The platform offers session privacy, transmission encryption and access to remote meeting rooms is only allowed with a password. SAPL is hosted in the datacenter of the Brazilian Senate House and receives the same data security treatment applied to the other internal systems of the Senate House in Brasília. 

 

From April to September 2020, Interlegis has already trained approximately 420 public servants from 227 City Councils and State Legislatures in the workshops held remotely for the use of SAPLR.

 

Of the 227 City Councils and State Legislatures that participated in the remote workshops, for the use of SAPLR, until September 2020, more than 48%, about 100 houses were already doing remote plenary sessions and another 50% started using our system.

 

These results give us the certainty that we have the capacity to find practical and intelligent solutions with the most modern technology to help the Brazilian legislatures in any situation.

 

The Brazilian Senate House in Brazil seeks to help brazilian legislatures to have tools that can be helpful within their localities and bring the population closer to the lawmaking process. We will only have an intense democracy in the moment we put society alongside parliaments.

 

The Brazilian Senate House, a house that represents the federated states in Brazil, ultimately, also reaches the municipalities so that we can put all this expertise at the service of the City Councils, be it State level, since the Senate represents the states, be it Local level, after all it is in the municipalities where the population lives.

 

Even in the midst of an adverse situation, such as a covid-19 pandemic, the Interlegis program is present in 4,526 of the 5,568 Brazilian municipalities.

 

Certainly, the work of Interlegis strengthened the brazilian democracy and the participation of citizens in the lawmaking process, bringing citizens closer to their representatives, even during such difficult times and thus allowing the democratic system to continue to live in an intense way in the brazilian society.

[header image source: unsplash] 

Share with your colleagues: