The political reform under consideration in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies will not be able to solve the structural problems of Brazil’s political systems by itself.
In the opinion of the president of the Brazilian Political Science Association, Maria Hermínia Tavares de Almeida, changes in the political system are insufficient for the country to overcome this problem.
“I don’t believe in the existence of political reforms that will resolve this, because political systems face specific problems at specific times,” she said.
Almeida observed that the reform will be incapable of diminishing corruption in the political system as it is currently constituted.
“I don’t believe that public campaign financing will resolve the corruption issue. What can minimize this problem are combinations of instruments, ranging from those associated with an observant press and observant society to those that have to do with the Federal Police, the Federal Revenue agency, and things of that sort,” she affirmed.
The political scientist pointed out, nonetheless, that the reform can signify the start of changes in the electoral system. She criticized, however, what she refers to as the “purification” of the political reform being discussed in the Chamber.
“The reform started out in the decade of the 1990’s as a major reform that would transform presidential into parliamentary government and change the electoral system, and what is left now is a minimal agenda,” she said.
She admitted that, in its current version, the political reform has a better chance of being approved by the legislators. “It is more probable that this reform will be approved than one that changes everything,” she remarked.
In Almeida’s opinion, there is no such thing as political systems immune to corruption. “We see this not only in the less developed countries. Problems of corruption are hard to resolve through reforms, even if some instruments are capable of minimizing this practice.”
Strengthening oversight mechanisms, according to Almeida, is the way to reduce corruption in countries like Brazil.
“The political system is refined not only through reforms but through experience, practice, and, most of all, numerous outside oversight mechanisms. Various mechanisms that sound an alert when something is wrong, when behavior does not correspond to the rules, and so on. Not everthing can be resolved through institutional changes,” she affirmed.