Brazil’s ruling party, the PT (Workers Party) had two complaints filed at the Federal Election Commission (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral – TSE) against articles in the weekly newsmagazine, Veja.
The pieces came out in the edition of this last weekend, July 31/August 1. The court gave the PT the right to respond in kind concerning one of the articles. The article dealt with remarks made by José Serra’s vice presidential candidate, Indio da Costa.
Basically, the majority of the court, in a 4 to 3 vote, decided that the magazine did not report on the remarks, but repeated them. That is to say, the magazine presented them as the magazine’s own opinion.
With the decision, the PT will be allowed to insert a response in the magazine that is the same size as the original article. Indio da Costa accused the PT of links to the Colombian guerilla movement, the Farc.
However, in the other decision, this one unanimous, the TSE ruled that the PT did not have a right to respond. The second article in Veja was about a violation of bank secrecy laws to obtain information on a bank account belonging to the vice president of the PSDB, Eduardo Jorge.
The 30% Rule
The rigid, strict and detailed rules for elections in Brazil, as established by judges in electoral courts (the equivalent of election commissions or boards, but with much more power) and legislators in Congress, state that parties must set aside 30% of the slots on their tickets for federal and state representatives (“deputados,” or, in the case of Brazilian capital Brasília, “distritais”) for women.
And how is the 30% female rule working out? In Brasília, the DEM party has 19 candidates for the Chamber of Deputies, one is a woman; result: the party ticket is 94.7% male.
The communists (PCB) are not doing much better. They have 28 candidates running for the chamber, 92.8% of them male. The party that comes out best is the PSDB: eight of its 25 candidates are female – 32%.
The states where parties have the most women on tickets are Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul – all with more than 25%. However, in Espírito Santo, Pernambuco and Minas Gerais the percentage of women is below 15%.
A curious fact about the 30% female rule: it does not state how anyone not obeying will be punished. Not a word. “Legislators made the law and did not create any control mechanism,” says judge Henrique Neves of the Federal Election Court.
Neves says it will be up to the election courts to decide on how to deal with the problem (and deal out punishment).
“A drastic solution would be to revoke the registration of all the candidates of a party or coalition that does not meet the requirement of a minimum number of female candidates,” he says.