Brazil’s House of Representatives approved, in a first vote, a proposed constitutional amendment that would end so-called verticalization of political parties. The vote was 343 to 143. A total of 308 votes was needed.
Verticalization makes it mandatory for Brazil’s many political parties to have the same allies at all levels. That is, if party A is allied with party B in the state of São Paulo, it must also be allied with party B in the national election for president.
Opposition to the rule was based on giving political parties more flexibility. Those in favor of verticalization claim it works to force political parties to unite around strong programs.
Just last month, the president of Brazil’s Federal Election Board (TSE), minister Carlos Velloso, announced that he had made a suggestion to the National Congress to spend less on election campaigns.
"We are convinced that expensive campaigns abet the ‘caixa 2,’ he said, referring to unreported campaign contributions.
According to Velloso, televised campaign spots are expensive and end up "masking" the truth from the viewers, transforming candidates into kind of "prettified soap commercials."
The TSE president affirmed that "we want candidates to appear on TV and state what they’re all about."
Minister Velloso expressed his total opposition to direct public funding of election campaigns. "First, because we already have public funding in the form of free television and radio air time."
He pointed out that this air time is free for the parties and the candidates but not for the federal government. "The radio and TV stations receive tax incentives in compensation," he revealed.
According to the TSE estimates, publicly funded election campaigns would cost between US$ 317.3 million (R$ 700 million) and US$ 362.63 million (R$ 800 million), while an election itself runs around US$ 266.64 million (R$ 500 million).
Since there are elections every two years, that would imply an expense on the order of US$ 589.28 (R$ 1.3 billion). "Have you ever imagined how many mass housing units could be put up, how many hospitals could be built?" he asked. In Velloso’s judgment, Brazil has other priorities.