Brazil’s Federal Election Commission (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral – TSE) has ruled that a so-called midget candidate (“nanico”), that is, from a small party with less than 1% of voter intentions in the last poll, does not have to be invited to participate in a debate of presidential candidates that will take place on the Internet.
The nanico candidates are a perennial problem in Brazilian elections because there are so many of them – six in this race – and they insist on equal rights and time.
In this case, an Internet debate scheduled for July 26, with the three candidates with the highest public opinion poll numbers, Levy Fedélix (PRTB) claimed that equal treatment electoral laws were being violated and insisted on participating.
TSE judge Henrique Neves ruled that the issue of equal treatment for all candidates applied only to radio and TV (public concessions) – not the Internet.
Neves also pointed out in his decision that as the PRTB does not have any representation in Congress, in accordance with TSE rules that party’s participation in any debate is optional.
Last year, Congress did pass a law requiring debates on the Internet to get the same treatment as debates on radio and TV (that is, equal treatment for all candidates).
However, president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva vetoed that part of the bill and, rather than a public concession, the Internet is considered “…a free environment for the manifestation of thought.”
As a result, the debate on July 26 will have only three participants: Dilma Rousseff (PT) and José Serra (PSDB) who are both tied with 35% of voter intentions; and Marina Silva (PV), with 7%.