Este artigo foi primeiramente publicado no Jota.
This article was first published in the legal news site Jota.
Below is an English translation
The Anitta* effect
“To amend a Provisional Measure** isn’t dialogue!” That was Anitta’s response to Representative Felipe Carreras (PSB) during a live Instagram chat between the two, when they were discussing an amendment authored by the Congressman. The amendment to Provisional Measure 948, changing copyright payment rules, did not have the support of the artistic community.
Amending a Provisional Measure (MPs) is an old and widely used tactic to avoid the long and uncertain process of approving a bill. What is new, is a popular singer pressure the author of the amendment during a live Instagram chat. With her more than 47 million followers and well rehearsed talking points, Anitta put Rep. Carreras up against a wall. It took him only a day to reverse course, sending a letter to the President of the Lower Chamber asking for the amendment to be withdrawn.
Today, anyone can lobby. The citizen who includes his/her name on a petition or posts a message on a Representative’s Facebook page in favor or against a bill, is lobbying. This lobby has no face and its strength lies in the thousands or millions of people who mobilize for or against an issue. But when Anitta organizes a live chat with a Member of Congress to discuss his amendment, she creates a new space – open and transparent – for the debate about a public policy proposal. It’s like the traditional meeting in a Member’s office, but for all to see. She did not repost a tweet defending a cause or share a link to a petition, but did directly advocate for the withdrawal of an amendment on a topic of interest to her. The meaning of Anitta’s live is enormous, as it unequivocally exemplifies the democratization of lobbying.
For a long time, lobbying was the exclusive domain of professional lobbyists, however, the internet created a new environment. Social platforms and digital tools have dramatically reduced the barriers that gave lobbyists a comparative advantage when it came to informing the decision-maker about the pros and cons of a proposal or share the views of a given interest group. The conversation would have taken place in a Member of Congress’ office or in one of Congress’ many hallways. However, today the conversation extends into the online world. In my book “Digital Lobby – How the Connected Citizen Influences the Decisions of Governments and Companies” to be published by ABERJE, I talk about the logic and dynamic of this new environment, in which the debate has gone beyond traditional spaces, bringing in new actors.
Celebrity engagement around an issue being discussed in Congress is nothing new. Chef Paola Carosella, for example, actively participated in the discussion about the “Poison Bill”, which dealt with the registration of pesticides. She went to public hearings and posted about the issue on social platforms, such as Twitter. Chef Bela Gil interviewed a representative of the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection (Idec) on her YouTube channel and called on her followers to participate in a public consultation on the labeling of food products held by the health regulatory agency ANVISA. However, Anitta, with her more than 47 million followers on Instagram, has brought a new dynamic to the debate.
Many of Anitta’s followers are newcomers to the world of public policy, as is Anitta herself (which she recognizes in her Instagram chats). So much so that she has organized three classes on Instagram with Gabriela Priori, a popular lawyer with her own YouTube channel, to explain in simple terms topics such as, the structure of government at the federal, state, and municipal levels; the relationship between the three branches of government; and some basic political concepts, such as the difference between right and left.
What Anitta shows us, is that power is being redistributed. In a live chat with Representative Molon (PT) to discuss MP 910, which would have legalized illegal land grabs in the Amazon, Anitta says: “I want people, especially my generation, to be interested in politics and understand it in a easy way, so that we can be active and change the things that need to be changed, because we have this power”.
In the not-too-distant past, the Sunday night variety program called Fantástico would occasionally air an investigative piece that would lead to action by the executive, legislative or judicial – called the Fantástico effect. Now we have the Anitta effect. She understands her strength and has assumed an important role in this new world in which public policy is being discussed in the public realm and where everyone can influence government decisions. In this new environment, the unpredictability, complexity, and speed with which issues advance have increased dramatically, and organizations need to rethink how to better connect with society at large and structure themselves so as not to be caught by surprise.
*Anitta is a popular Brazilian singer
**A legal instrument that gives the President the prerogative, under certain circumstances, to issue a law without having to go to Congress. Congress has 60 days to approve it to make it permanent.