‘Basômetro’ is a tool that monitors the votes of each representative in Brazil’s House of Representatives, with historical data ranging back from 2003 up to now. It then calculates a government support ratio for each politician and the values are also aggregated by party.
The ‘Basômetro’ measures the governance of deputies and parties in the House. To do this, the tool calculates how many votes followed the government leader’s guidance, in percent.
We consider that a vote in favor of the government is one that exactly follows the orientation of the leadership. For example, if the indication is “yes”, only “yes” votes are considered pro-situation. All others (“no”, “obstruction” or “abstention”) are considered votes against the government.
When the government does not register a direction and releases the bench position, the related data are discarded. Thus, the rates of government and attendance by parliamentarians are calculated taking into account only the votes in which the Executive has explicitly assumed a position
In the tool, information made available by the Open Data Portal of the House of Representatives through the API (a kind of system that allows automation of data collection and publication) of the institution is used.
We created in Python a lib to constantly consume the House of Representatives API and format the data in a more readable way. Also in Python, the script groups the data by party and government, in addition to bringing other congressman data as voting attendance rate.
What was the hardest part of this project?
Among the difficulties are public data that is neither standardized nor organized. The scripts developed had to be designed to deal with these inconstancies. Another difficulty factor was to create a visually impactful but at the same time simple visualization so that the tool would be accessible and not restricted to researchers and political scientists – as it was in the first version of the Basômetro in 2012
What can others learn from this project?
We believe that it is possible to reach several layers of the audience without necessarily being frivolous or too technical. The Basometer was the balance of these two strands.