Adote um Vereador

Quick Look

Adote um vereador encourages Brazilian citizens to blog about the work of their local elected officials in order to hold them accountable.

Beginning Date: 
January 8, 2009
Annual Budget 2009: 
Annual Budget 2010: 
Project Scale: 
Types of Tools: 
Specific Tools: 


Brazil is the largest and most populous country of South America. It is the fifth most populous country in the world with 190 million people living in 5,564 cities. The vast majority of Brazilian citizens have little knowledge of or engagement with their local elected officials. In an attempt to increase both civic engagement in local politics and to hold politicians more accountable the Agora Institute in Defense of Voters and Democracy implemented a program encouraging individual citizens (especially students at public schools) to "adopt" a local politician in order to ensure that someone is supervising their work.

The project began slowly until it found a celebrity spokesperson, Milton Jung, a well known and tech savvy radio journalist in São Paulo. Following Brazil's municipal elections in 2008 Jung invited his listeners based in Sao Paulo to all participate by setting up blogs specifically intended to monitor the activities of particular alderman. Eight million voters in Sao Paulo, Jung argued, should have more control and influence over the work of just 55 elected aldermen. Participation in the project grew rapidly and spread beyond just Sao Paulo, but it was difficult for the various blogging activists to coordinate with one another and to measure the collective impact of their work.

In January, 2009 Everton Zanella, a web developer based in Sao Paulo, came up with a simple solution: create a wiki to list ever "adopt an alderman" blogger, spread awareness about their work, and come to a better understanding of their individual and collective goals. The site, Adote um Vereador, is maintained by volunteers who have so far contributed 278 articles. It contains: 1) information about the individuals who created blogs to hold aldermen accountable; 2) a map of the 32 cities with "adopt an alderman" bloggers; 3) a step-by-step guide showing how citizens can become involved; 4) information about the responsibilities of aldermen and related news from Brazilian media. It also includes resources on how to use internet tools like blogs and Twitter to publish information about politicians. Zanella, the founder of the wiki, believes that the main obstacles to its success are both cultural and technological. He says that most Brazilians only think about governance during elections. He also stresses that most Brazilians still do not know how to use the tools of the internet, such as blogs and wikis, to publish information their politicians.


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What are the biggest obstacles to your success?: 

People find free time to work on the project. But, I believe that the main problem is that they are not used to holding the public administration accountable. Also, not everyone knows how to use the tools like blogs, Twitter, and wikis.

How do you plan on overcoming those obstacles?: 

For the short term, I believe we can only work on the second problem: the technological barriers. People who are web savvy can mentor those who want to learn the skills. I hope organize these courses during this year and work with the people from SESC Pompéia.

Thinking for the long term, it is necessary to face the cultural obstacles, mainly having to do with people not being involved with politcs and thinking politics is just election day. Education is the only way I see to solve this cultural problem. It is necessary to teach youth about their role in society and improve their skills in politics. This is actually the big deal the country has to solve if want be a great country in the world. See here more information about a debate Wikimedia Brasil volunteers have organized at the end of 2009.

What problem is your project aiming to overcome?: 

There are many voters and few politicians representing them. The main difficulty we are facing is a lack of engagement to report critically about their work.

What are the roots of that problem?: 

Brazilian people are not used to the democratic process. For most Brazilians, governance is a synonym for the phenomenom of elections, which happens only every 4 years. In the meantime Brazilians have little participation in the political agenda, even if they have a very local problem that involves the government. Usualy, when some public problem happens people think it is a problem of the politicians, not them. So, people cannot see a way to construct and solve for themselves local public problems and local public policies.

Why did you personally become involved in this project?: 

Because I really believe in the potential use of the Internet to change the reality of local politics. The Internet has been my main work since I began my physics studies. I believe from my experience that projects like ‘Adote um Vereador’ can really change local communities.

Are you providing unofficial channels of information that should be provided by the government?: 

Currently our wiki platform is being used properly. However it is a wish to make it a trustful source of information, such as a information channel from the government. I hope gathering more volunteers this year and make it in a collaborative way of work, sharing information and tasks to promote transparency of the data and information from the government. Moreover, we have also created a mailing list for discussion about the project. I am going to encourage people to check the budgets of their adopted politicians to compare the information. Presently there is some information about budgets, but the data format is incompatible or it is too hidden to be easily used to study and compare. The government should provide information as detailed and thorough as possible to encourage the accountability of public management.

Why is the government not providing the information?: 

Brazil does not have a public government information law. We have to change the laws related to the internet and the right to public governament information as soon as possible.

Is there a freedom of information law in the country where this project is based?: 
Is there a right to information law in the country where this project is based?: 
How does the information published on your website turn into offline change?: 

I hope that after four years we will have all the information to help citizens make better decisions about which aldermen they are going to vote for. This is already a real life change.

How many people work on your project?: 
How many hours a week do you personally spend on the project?: 

A few hours per week.

What are the most time consuming tasks?: 

Searching for trusted information.

How do you attract new participants?: 

The project is being promoted by Milton Jung, a famous journalist from Radio CBN based in São Paulo. I believe most participants are radio listeners and blog readers.

What has been the most effective method of spreading awareness about your project?: 

Speaking to everyone I know.

What skills and expertise would be of assistance to your project?: 

People with skills using web 2.0 technologies can always help. Disseminating the project among friend and making a social network for the project can also improve its dissemination. The most important thing is to have citizens who are interested.

How do you plan on financially sustaining your project? : 

I have not thought about it. This is just an experience. However, I have some problems finding time to dedicate to the project as a volunteer since I have to work in a company and also at the University of São Paulo.

What other organizations are you working with?: 

I had talked in the beginning with people from Movimento Nossa São Paulo , Voto Consciente and Instituto Ágora, but since the last semester I have not been able to talk to them again. In Jundiaí, a medium sized city in the countryside of the richiest state of Brazil, São Paulo, Voto Consciente is very concerned and active in this project.

Have you thought about developing your own tools?: 

Yes. I want to make partners to obtain data that is already available for analysing them. For example, campaign contribution data is available, but in a very obscure way. It would be interesting to compare contributions with later projects in local governments.

Has there been any communication between your project and government officials?: 

I have been talking with the alderman who I adopeted, Floriano Pesaro. I spent a day at Câmara Municipal de São Paulo (City Council of São Paulo) observing his job. Several questions were made by me and we had some politics discussions about the city.

Fortunately the politician I follow has been using the Internet (chat, blog, twitter and email) to interact with the citizens of São Paulo. However, a lot of people have been finding many difficulties in getting feedback from some aldermen.

Are there any legal obstacles to your work? Any laws that should be changed?: 

Yes. It is necessary to have more access about what happens inside city council meetings. For this, we must have public debates with more people in city council.

Have there been any attempts to replicate your work elsewhere?: 

The project began in São Paulo and was disseminated to other cities around Brazil. I hope someday we can transform the project into "Adopt a politician" for all levels of government. It would be very important for our democracy. But if this happens it will not be soon.

What other projects in your region should we know about?: 

Movimento Nossa São Paulo has some interesting things going on. You must know Transparência Hack Day, which is in its initial phase and is also gathering interesting people.

If someone gave you $100,000 how would you use the money?: 

I would hack data to make it more available from public administrations, as has been done by the Sunlight Foundation (US) and MySociety (UK). Furthermore, I want to learn from people from these organizations and in the future create a Brazilian version. This money would help a lot. My preference is MySociety because of their philosophy toward free software.

What are your plans for 2010 and 2011?: 

I want to make a network of everyone interested in using the Internet to improve and solve problems about democracy by using these tools for actions in the real world.

I intend to teach people how to use some of these tools. Moreover, I will help them to use free software.



Sensacional, pessoal! O Adote um Vereador é uma grande contribuição para o nosso processo democrático e a formação de uma sociedade cidadã! Parabéns aos seus articuladores, multiplicadores, os cérebros por trás de tudo e, especialmente, aos adotadores que controem a ponte entre "nós" e "eles"! Para que, um dia, não exista mais "nós" e "eles", mas uma cultura de colaboração.

Na verdade começou o Adote um

Na verdade começou o Adote um Vereador logo depois do 2º turno das eleições municipais em 2008, e logo que foi lançada a campanha adotei o Antonio Carlos Rodrigues, presidente da Câmara Municipal

Nice project!

A nice brazilian project. It can be easily spread in all regions of the world, because it is just necessary the use o internet and some skills to create and maintainning a blog or website gathering information about eldermen.

If it happens several local governors will enchance high quality, specially where the accountability is not so natural, such as Brazil and others countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and several in Europe (yes, we have corruption in local governments of Europe...).

Great experience. We're

Great experience. We're waiting for another e-democracy projects.

This project is so amazing as

This project is so amazing as much as it's unique! We must approve it, as soon as possible! Congratulations!

Legal a idéia...

Legal a idéia...

Legal a idéia desse

Legal a idéia desse projeto... Espero que de bons resultado...

Como já disseram acima, é um

Como já disseram acima, é um projeto simples de ser implementado, mas de impacto fundamental para a democracia e fiscalização do poder público. Deveria existir um projeto desse em cada cidade brasileira.

Muito legal esta iniciativa,

Muito legal esta iniciativa, quem sabe um dia a democracia deixará de ser uma ilusão.

Até o momento não conhecia

Até o momento não conhecia esse projeto.
Gostei! Vou pesquisar mais sobre o assunto.
O importante é difundir esta idéia.

THis is a great projetc. It

THis is a great projetc. It makes the people use their power of citizen, making the accountability, and the social control of the governement in a particular and indivdual control that each citizen can add the system of accountability in a particular way, controling just one politician, that makes the control more efficient and this system need the participation of the citizens, this help in two objectives, control of the politicians and include the citizen participation.

O povo brasileiro não sabe

O povo brasileiro não sabe votar, isso é fato! Os jovens então, estão cada vez mais desinteressados pela política brasileira. Fora que é normal os brasileiros votarem em deputados e vereadores e no ano seguinte nem saberem mais em quem votaram! Portanto a ideia é muito boa!


I would like to congratulate Milton and Everton for leading “Adote um Vereador” and Manuella for the precise researching of the project.
This is a very innovative project both for its nature and its object. “For its nature” because it provides a simple way to hold politicians accountable. By using simple tools such as blogs and Twitter, the “adopters” have a platform to keep information and are able to spread what they have documented.
And I believe the project is innovative for its object because “vereadores”, which are members of the Legislative branch of the government in Brazilian cities, are mostly ignored in Brazil. The mayor, who is the head of Executive branch in municipal level, gets much more attention from the press, the academic studies and the NGOs (actually, this is quite natural in a way; this happens because the head of Executive has a lot of power in our cities).
So, “Adote um vereador” is a very welcomed project because it sends light to a fundamental branch of the local government. After all, the local Legislative is not only responsible for making and reviewing the municipal legislation; it’s also in charge of monitoring the powerful City Hall. Thus, if you have a group of well-intentioned “vereadores”, the mayor and his aids must do a better job.
In spite of all those praises, I find that “Adote um Vereador” nowadays faces a fundamental problem in reaching its goals: some “adopters” do not know what to observe and to document in their blogs. Sure, that’s not to blame totally on the bloggers: Brazilian public administration is not used to transparency and accountability; there’s little information available; also, many “vereadores” simply ignore their “adopters”.
Despite all those obstacles, I believe there’s room for a more efficient approach. And here, I have a simple suggestion: I believe the “adopters” should try to work in group. I mean: they should, in a monthly basis, pick a topic and try to raise data on that topic. Example: “next month, let’s raise all details concerning the funders of vereadores’ electoral campaign”. Or: “let’s check how vereadores positioned when discussing the garbage collection problems”. And the result of this work should be published by everyone and sent to the press, NGOs, universities and so on.
Speaking of press, Universities and civil society movements, I’m sure the project would gain a lot if “ adopters” have the chance to get some involvement with these institutions (in spite of all our belief in the power of innovation, I think we should not disregard the “old” institutions). Suggestion: meetings with researchers, journalists and activists in order to exchange experience and ideas (be careful, though; people like these love to dictate rules. Bloggers should make clear they just want to EXCHANGE ideas).
To sum up: I believe the project is great, but it does need a little more coordination and expertise in order to reach a higher level.

Is there a better way to describe Participation?

Once again, the 'facilitation' - not to say solution - of solving a problem comes with the internet. And now the problem of politics, democracy and popular participation on public issues draws to an end.

This project presents a new useful tool to try to solve these problems: blogs. Citizens writing about the work of their own representatives. Is there a better way to describe the "Public Management Fiscalization"?

The article itself shows a true realistic face of brazilian culture and its people's look towards democracy and its meaning. In fact, brazilian citizens actually believe that taking part in a democracy is just voting every two or four years - and even then, many don't know what options they have and how to know if their choice is actually the right one.

Nevertheless, in the attempt of making democracy more democratic, the first step is to make this new tool more accessive. The need of more divulgation is a must, particularly through other means of mass communication, in times of elections or not, exactly for the purpose of creating this new "public fiscal habit" in citizens and to give "politician" its original meaning of people's representant.

The key of the text!

You had the key of the text: "MAKING DEMOCRACY MORE DEMOCRATIC!"

Good information

Very good article, it would be nice to be made a version in portuguese!


Martin and Ricardo: yes, democracy must be more democratic and writing about what our representatives are doing is a very good way of participating.
However, one must know what to document. You cannot simply reproduce things, without criteria. If a blogger/adopter does so, he is not actually holding the politicians accountable. Sometimes the blogger is even playing the politician game. I saw it myself: some bloggers sometimes work as a public relations officer of the politician "adopted". It seems the blogger does not do that on bad faith; it looks like he does that because he does not know what to observe and what to write in the blog. So, he naively reproduces what the politicians office distributes.


Pensei em me juntar a turma do Adote um Vereador. Verificando alguns blogs dos participantes desconfio que alguns tem a intenção de usar este tipo de trabalho como trampolim político e apoio a vereadores de sua simpatia. Coisa bem diferente do que se prega e da turma do VOTO CONSCIENTE (que são sérios). A pessoa que adotou o Vereador Floriano Pesaro é claramente seu íntimo. Ataques grosseiros a sub-prefeitos por quem não percente a sua área, demonstra que devemos ficar de olho neles também (a turma do adote um vereador). Elogios sem sentido e pedido de apoio a projetos de vereadores, não acho correto para quem pretende fiscalizar.

Frases famosas dos padrinhos:

- me ajudem a fiscalizar = Não me deixem só (Fernando Collor de Mello, ex-presidente)

- Deixamos de estar com familiares, de aproveitar o feriado = Trabalhando por vc.

- Venha aprender cidadania = convocação para fialiação política.

Não admitem ser questionados. Quando são, o destempero nas respostas nos leva a desconfiança. Talvez a paixão do confiável Jornalista Milton Jung (radio CBN) idealizador do projeto, o esteja impedindo de enxergar o óbvio.


Pensando em adotar um vereador visitei os Blogs dos padrinhos. Percebi claramente que além de fiscalizar alguns usam este trabalho para evidenciar e pedir apoio a vereadores e políticos de suas simpatias. A Pessoa que adoteou Floriano Pesaro deixa isso bem claro. Os membros deste programa quando questionados por alguma falha respondem com truculência como se fossem donos da verdade e única solução para a política municipal. Atacam sub-prefeitos com grosseria dando a impressão de inimigos políticos. Minha impressão que este trabalho esta sendo usado por alguns como campanha de aspirantes a políticos. Bem diferente da turma do VOTO CONSCIENTE que é séria e não faz política.

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