Published on Dec 23, 2013

An ecosystem of corporate politicians

An interactive visualization of the relationships between members of Portuguese governments and companies for the period of 1975 to 2013. Data is approached as an ecosystem, where each set of interdependent relations are regulated by physical conditions—each politician has a sequence of companies to visit, chasing them and jumping between them, in order to restart the sequence each time it is completed

Interactive visualization at

The visualization time is not set on a strict chronological order, but instead it displays every politician and company at the same time in order to emphasize the frenetic traffic of politicians in-between companies.


Circles represent companies with an area proportional to the number of different politicians that passed through that company during 1975-2013. That way, bigger circles represent companies with more politicians.

Politicians are simulated as living organisms, having a set of companies to visit, encircling them for an amount of time proportional to the duration of their specific positions at the company. The color of each politician is based on its latest political party affiliation, such as socialistssocial-democrats and conservatives. In cases where the political affiliation could not be defined, politicians are left gray.

The anatomy of a politician is related the number of unique companies that he has to visit, as shown by the following image.



In ad­di­tion to vi­su­al­ize every re­la­tion in this ecosys­tem si­mul­ta­ne­ously, it is also pos­si­ble to ex­plore more specific views.

By click­ing on a com­pany, one can iso­late its ecosys­tem, dis­play­ing only the politi­cians that had a po­si­tion at that com­pany and also dis­play­ing other com­pa­nies that had the same politi­cians or­bit­ing around the se­lected com­pany.

By click­ing on a politi­cian one can vi­su­al­ize his path be­tween com­pa­nies, as well as get ac­cess to his po­si­tions in gov­ern­ments and re­spec­tive po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions.


The data was col­lected from a study of pol­i­tics and busi­nesses done for the doc­u­men­tary “Donos de Por­tu­gal” which cov­ers the re­la­tions of min­is­ters and sec­re­taries of state of Por­tuguese gov­ern­ments with com­pa­nies, roughly from 1975 to 2010. This study was com­ple­mented with our own re­search of their po­si­tions in com­pa­nies until 2013.

In ad­di­tion, other politi­cians and com­pa­nies were added from an “Ex­ploratory study about po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions of stock com­pa­nies in Por­tu­gal”, and an­other hand full that we deemed rel­e­vant but al­ways with high gov­ern­men­tal po­si­tions (min­is­ters, sec­re­taries of state and prime-min­is­ters).

It should also be no­ticed that the gath­ered in­for­ma­tion was al­ways in­cluded from pub­lic sources, such as com­pa­nies’ gov­ern­ing bod­ies avail­able on­line, com­pa­nies’ pub­lic re­ports, news from the on­line press and pub­lic résumés. This re­sulted in more than 130 gath­ered politi­cians and more than 350 com­pa­nies that are still being added to the sys­tem as we con­clude our re­search. Al­though this data is only a sam­ple of the real di­men­sion of traf­fic be­tween com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments in Por­tu­gal, it is in­deed highly il­lus­tra­tive of the sub­ject.


My main in­spi­ra­tion for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of this work and its core com­po­nents are the de­li­cious sketch.​js and Cof­fee Physics from Justin Win­dle. Oth­ers fol­low that should have my most re­spectable ac­knowl­edg­ment, since they make life so much eas­ier: has.​jsde­vbridge/jQuery-Au­to­com­pletenanoScroller.​js,harthur/color.​jssole/tween.​jsHyphenator.​js.