After more than 20 years of military dictatorship, the re-democratization of Brazil can be characterized as a period of great political effervescence, especially around the new Federal Constitution.
The 1988 Constitution, drafted by a Constituent Assembly, is the result of a vibrant participatory process that guaranteed a significant role to civil, political and social rights. The new Constitution is also characterized by concepts related to the implementation of participatory mechanisms in the three spheres of the Federation, initiating a new horizon of participatory practices in the country.
The period of re-democratization and the elaboration of the Constitution were marked by a broad participation of political parties, social movements, and civil society organizations, contributing to greater involvement and political inclusion in the delineation of democratic structures between the state and society.
The inclusion of participatory and deliberative formats in the 1988 Constitution made possible the development of so-called "democratic innovations." Since then, Brazil stands out among other countries for its high level of democratic experimentalism with regards to the development of democratic innovations.
Since the creation of the Participatory Budget in Porto Alegre in 1989, various forms of participation are becoming increasingly common in municipal, state and federal governments, consolidating democratic innovations as a constitutive aspect of Brazilian democracy.
With the expansion of the commercial use of the internet and digital government initiatives since the 2000s, one can observe the beginning of digital democratic innovations in the country. These have started to increase significantly from 2009. Digital innovations are equally present at the national level as well as at the local level, indicating that new technologies can contribute to broader participation and, possibly, impact democracy on a large scale.
Digital innovations are an important space for co-governance: in a significant part of cases, governments and citizens come together in the political process, regardless of who has developed or initiated the innovation. The government is, however, most responsible for digital democracy initiatives in the country, and is in charge of a significant part of digital participation initiatives. However, civil society organizations are increasingly presenting initiatives as they partner with governments, international and private organizations.
The most important democratic innovations in the country are; at the national level, the National Councils of Public Policies and the National Conferences of Public Policies; and at the local level, the Participatory Budget and the Municipal Councils of Public Policies. Digital democratic innovations expanded participation in the national legislative branch. Brazil has the first case of law developed through an online collaborative process (crowdsourcing), the so-called Civil Internet Framework.
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