Opposition Keeps Going to Court with Charges Lula Is Illegally Campaigning

Lula and Dilma in Rio early 2010 Brazilian opposition parties (PSDB, DEM and PPS) have filed an appeal at the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), the equivalent of a federal Election Board, only in Brazil the TSE is in fact a court with real judges presided over by a Supreme Court justice.

They want a decision on the merit of a lawsuit that accuses president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff, of illegally running a presidential election campaign.

This specific case refers to remarks Lula made at a ceremony on January 21st inaugurating a worker’s union center. Under Brazilian electoral law, presidential election campaigning begins punctually on July 5 – and not a day before.

Actually, this is the sixth lawsuit filed by opposition parties claiming that Lula and Dilma are illegally campaigning. None of them prospered

Brazilian electoral law is strict, rigid and detailed. It seeks to run elections in a careful, controlled and punctual manner; like a railroad timetable. There is a bit of dissonance in this because in Brazil, as everywhere else, elections tend to begin as soon as the last one ends.

The dynamic, messy process that takes place everywhere else is further muddied in Brazil by the tightly constricted electoral legislation that inevitably brings forth a flood of lawsuits and countersuits that can sometimes have consequences years later.

For example, in 2009, the TSE was still ruling on forfeiture of office cases involving the following governors elected in 2006: Cassio Cunha Lima (PSDB) of Paraíba and Jackson Lago (PDT) of Maranhão, Luiz Henrique da Silveira (PMDB), of Santa Catarina; Ivo Cassol (no party), of Rondônia; Marcelo Déda (PT), of Sergipe;, Marcelo Miranda (PMDB), of Tocantins; José de Anchieta Júnior (PSDB), of Roraima; and Waldez Goes (PDT), of Amapá).

Endemic Corruption

The government’s chief federal attorney. Luis Inácio Adams, declared that in Brazil corruption is endemic and a permanent problem. “It is up to the government and the citizen to exercise permanent vigilance and control over this pathogen,” declared Adams on the “Good Morning, Minister” program (“Bom Dia, Ministro”).

He added that the problem is not just in Brazil, but that the country is going through a process of renovation.

With regard to the situation in the Federal District where the governor is behind bars for trying to bribe a witness and obstruction of justice, Adams explained that if federal intervention is used it will mean the end of administrative independence for the nation’s capital and the biggest impact will be in the local legislature known as the CLDF – Legislative Chamber of the Federal District. 

“The Supreme Court decides if intervention is called for and president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has the prerogative to decide how it will operate. Thus, in this unprecedented situation, it is possible to simply substitute the president of the Legislative Assembly or, in a more drastic move, close down the assembly and transfer its functions to the National Congress,” said Adams.

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