In just over a year, around 500,000 candidates will be able to participate in a municipal election under new rules. On the 14th, the Chamber of Deputies approved the two projects that make up changes that became known as mini-electoral reform.
The projects still need to pass through the Senate and be sanctioned by October 5th to come into force for the 2024 election, a speed that has already been seen on the eve of past elections. This time, however, the projection is not so encouraging for reform advocates. The president of the House, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), guaranteed that his peers will not make a hasty assessment.
Several changes and proposals were considered in the final stage of voting in the Chamber and bring relevant impacts to the Electoral Code. Among them are the flexibility of campaign accountability and punishment for offenders, changes to female and black quotas and the prohibition of collective candidacies.
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Jurists interviewed by Brasil de Fato point to advances, such as the anticipation of the electoral calendar, and setbacks in terms of transparency and minority participation. Some controversies demonstrate that there was not the consensus expected by the rapporteur of the mini-reform, federal deputy Rubens Pereira Júnior (PT-MA).
One of them concerns changes to the Clean Record Law, which reduces the period in which politicians must stay away from electoral disputes. “As I am a lawyer, I welcome the change because there was something disproportionate and unreasonable in terms of the period of ineligibility. Some cases reached 15, 20 years of ineligibility and the project is reducing everything to 8 years. It would be a uniform thing. If you listen to a prosecutor, he will think it’s absurd, that it should be 20 years”, comments lawyer Alexandre Luis Mendonça Rollo, member of the Brazilian Academy of Electoral and Political Law.
Another divergent issue, but one that has advanced, concerns ‘electoral surpluses’ in the Legislature, which can benefit the largest parties. The text provides that only acronyms that reach 100% of the quotient can compete for the remaining seats, to the detriment of candidates who received the most votes, but whose parties were least selected by voters.
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Rio Grande do Sul deputy Fernanda Melchionna, from PSOL, criticized the measure during the vote in the Chamber plenary. “The criterion of quotients benefits the machines. And for this plurality, these democratic freedoms, these parliamentarians that I often disagree with, but that represent some segments so that they could be here, the surpluses were fundamental”, he pointed out, mentioning that several of the his colleagues, including some in the opposition, would not be elected using this formula.
Setback in the participation of women and minorities
Several civil society organizations, such as the Pact for Democracy and the Brazilian Academy of Electoral and Political Law (Abradep), point to a retreat in the process of including women in politics. According to the proposal, the 30% quota of female candidates will now be counted by federation and no longer by party.
“Mathematically, this means a reduction. If you count party by party, it guarantees greater representation”, points out lawyer Laila Viana de Azevedo Melo, member of Abradep. “Affirmative representation policies are tools for mitigating social harm that we have been facing for a long time, such as resource quotas and advertising time for female and black candidates.”
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“For transparency, organization and consolidation of a conscious voter’s vote, we are experiencing a lot of setbacks, and for political participation too. After all, the parties will be able to eliminate female participation in many municipalities without this being penalized”, adds the lawyer Arthur Mello, from the Pact for Democracy.
Another criticized section provides loopholes for the use of funds that are currently allocated only to female candidates. Thus, campaign expenses could be combined with those of men, as long as they are accompanied by women and black people in advertisements.
A proposal created by Novo and presented by the Liberal Party, the ban on collective candidacies is also in the package. The regulation of this model, which is currently recognized by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), was presented by the rapporteur, but rejected by the deputies.
The fence is criticized by the left, which registered several tickets in this format in previous elections – the movement began to gain strength in 2016 and elected its first mandates in 2018. Representative Bohn Gass (PT-RS) asked to speak in the plenary during the vote to show your displeasure.
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“The experiences that have collective candidacies are around exactly people who defend the same ideal. How do they work? It is the registration of a person, who is listed, but who has people around him who help to run the campaign. They must have the right to demonstrate”, he criticized.
Adjustments to rules and control over campaigns
There were also disagreements on topics related to financing standards and accountability for applications. One of them concerns the prevention of discounts from the electoral or party fund to acronyms in the second electoral semester. Something that would prevent decisions such as that of Alexandre de Moraes, president of the TSE, from blocking resources from the PL fund out of bad faith, when the party requested partial annulment of votes in the 2022 elections.
“There is, for example, the possibility of ticket revocation for anyone caught buying votes. The changes to articles 30 and 41A could result in just a fine of R$10,000 to R$150,000 for anyone who purchases tickets. vote. There is the amendment to article 100, which says that you will no longer need a company subcontracting document, which allows leafleters to go on a spree. This also makes it easier to buy votes”, says Mello.
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Other measures are seen as positive, such as the use of party funds to cover travel expenses during campaigns and the prohibition of campaign transfers while there are gaps in accountability. “It is important that there is a change in expenses of this type. After all, the electoral fund is for electoral expenses and the candidate’s food and lodging is an electoral expense. So the bill authorizes the use”, explains Rollo.
The modernization of campaign financing is also part of the project, with the possibility of donations via Pix and the prohibition of crossed checks. “Contrary to what is said, Pix are traceable. It is possible, the Central Bank has this capacity. Obviously we will have a massive number in need of tracking. It will take work, but I think the Electoral Justice has improved in In recent years, it will suffer overload, but it can adapt. We need to adhere to new mechanisms, these are obvious things that need to be changed”, comments Laila Melo.
In order to give the Electoral Court more time for analysis, a change brings forward party conventions and candidate registrations. “The project anticipates the conventions by 15 days and the deadline for candidates to present their candidacy by practically 20 days. It is important for the Superior Court of Justice to have the minimum capacity to judge the records until the election dates. There will not be time to do That’s it, but I prefer 15 more days than today’s way, which is 45 days to judge everything, and the Court doesn’t judge. It could be even more anticipated”, says Rollo.
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The speed between the drafting of the mini-reform and its processing also bothers civil society organizations. The initiative by the President of the Chamber, Arthur Lira, to create a working group at the end of August gave less than two weeks for public hearings and in-depth discussions on the projects.
“We view the normalization of this type of process with concern. Even more so when we are talking about a change in the rules of the game, a year before the election, without the participation of society, without a broad debate. The result could not be different: the text is full of mistakes, to say the least, with things that go against the transparency of the electoral system, against the participation of women and black people, so we are very concerned about the content of this text and the way it was presented”, highlights Arthur Mello.
He hopes that, once in the Senate, the mini-reform will be assessed by the newly created Commission for the Defense of Democracy, led by Liziane Gama (PSD-MA). “It’s a new commission that needs to be put to the test based on the analysis of this text. Now, it will surprise civil society if this is also discussed quickly, by accident, without participation, also in the Senate”, warns the representative of the Pact for Democracy.
Editing: Thalita Pires