Brazil’s Federal Election Board (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral – TSE) reports that it has received ten requests for registration of candidates for the presidency of Brazil in the October general elections.
The two frontrunners are Dilma Rousseff (PT – Workers Party) and José Serra (PSDB – Brazilian Social Democracy Party) who are technically tied with around 35% of intended votes each. Marina Silva (PV – Green Party) has less than 10%.
And there are another seven candidates who altogether have less than 1% of intended votes but 25% of the free time on radio and television all official candidates have a right to in Brazil. These are the so-called midget (“nanico”) candidates. They are an integral, consistent part of Brazilian presidential electoral fauna.
The complete electoral field was revealed this weekend after the final deadline for registration of candidates. Throughout the country over 21,500 requests for candidacy registrations were made. These are all the candidates in the October general elections – for the presidency, the Senate, the House of Representatives, state assemblies and governorships.
The rub is that, in light of the Ficha Limpa law (Clean Criminal Record) and very strong popular support for stricter ethical standards for politicians, the 27 regional electoral boards (TREs) and the federal board (TSE) will have to examine each one of the registration requests individually to discover if the candidate has a conviction.
In accordance with the Ficha Limpa law, certain types of convictions make candidates ineligible. But it may be difficult to weed out convicted politicians because convictions can be hard to find: they can be in state or federal courts, electoral courts, the Federal Appellate Court (Superior Tribunal de Justiça – STJ) and, finally, watchdog agencies (a state or federal Tribunal de Contas).
All this is taking place in TRE courts renowned for moving slowly, against a background of rigid timetables. Registrations can be rejected until August 24 and appeals made until September 23, which is less than two weeks before the election.
Many observers believe the deadlines are not viable, “ficha limpa” suits will clog the dockets and candidates will be allowed to run for office with decisions as to eligibility being made after the elections. That is the messy way it is done now.
It is reported that something between 400 and 1,200 registration requests have been rejected so far.
At some time in the near future, inevitably, there will be a showdown at the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of Ficha Limpa itself.
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