Policy and Politics Analytics


Parliaments are an important forum for political decision making; studying their processes and output, from voting patterns to speech debates, but also biographical data, conflicts of interest and composition, can help us understand how they function and how they can better represent the will of the citizens. We have collected all parliamentary debate transcripts, from 1976 to present, and are now analyzing the text to detect temporal trends, identify major topics and cross that information with other variables, such as votes and biographies of the members of Parliament.

January 2016 – Ongoing

TEAM | Paulo Almeida

COLLABORATIONS | Manuel Pita, CICANT, Universidade Lusófona

The United Nations recognize gender equality as one of the Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. Indeed in most countries of the so-called developed world, namely in Europe, men and women have equal rights and opportunities in light of the Law. Yet, few women are present in leadership positions despite having the same, or even, higher levels of education. Although many hypotheses have been proposed, the reasons behind this “glass ceiling” remain unclear.

Political discourse in parliament provides a unique case-study on gender differences both in the behavior of women as well as on the behavior towards women. We make use of natural language processing techniques as well as basic statistics to identify differences between male and female behavior and discourse in the portuguese parliament. Our goal is to reveal subtle differences so that both the public and the politicians themselves are aware of them.

June 2018 – Ongoing

TEAM | Lília Perfeito, Paulo Almeida


Whether we talk about the environment, or public debt, the topic of sustainability seems pervasive in public discussions. But exactly how pervasive is it? For how long do we care about the future impacts of our current decisions? Particularly when it comes to decisions that affect future generations. Should we build football stadiums and leave the bill to be paid by our grandchildren? What about schools, who should pay for them?

While we can not objectively answer the last two questions, we can assess how politicians and the media have treated the topic of sustainability throughout the years. We make use of the transcripts of the portuguese parliament as well as online media records, twitter and facebook posts to observe the dynamics of the topic in recent years. Namely, we ask: In what contexts is sustainability discussed? Who talks about sustainability? What is its temporal dynamics?  

May 2018 – Ongoing

FUNDING | Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian

TEAM | Paulo Almeida, Lília Perfeito, Cláudio Haupt Vieira

News media is a standard interface between the public and politics, and it is uncertain to what extent it has the ability to influence the political agenda and vice-versa. We are conducting a large-scale news media analysis in order to get some insights on the dynamics between media, political entities and the decision-making process.

2019 – Ongoing

TEAM | Cláudio Vieira

Opinion polls published in the media are very often misinterpreted leading to claims of polling errors or bias. When most polls indicated a very narrow victory for one side and the election then turns out a very narrow victory to the other side that does not mean there was any error in the polls, but frequently stems from people only reading the topline results and taking them as a deterministic prediction. To overcome this, some models have been developed, mainly in the United States, that use poll data to assign specific probabilities to each possible outcome. In addition to providing a more honest way of presenting prediction based on opinion polls, these models use a systematic processing of polling data and past election results, in addition to other data sources, that provides insight into the main factors driving shifting voting patterns. Since there are very few studies of this kind done for european countries, we aim to develop an electoral model for the portuguese parliamentary elections that can, along the way, maybe reveal some interesting national and regional voting patterns in the country along the last few decades.

2018 – Ongoing

TEAM | Frederico Francisco

COLLABORATORS | Pedro Magalhães, ICS