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Candidates and political parties must meet deadlines before the 2014 elections

October 5th, 2013 is an important day: it marks exactly one year before the 2014 Elections, when Brazilians will elect their next President, governors, senators and federal and state parliaments. It is also the deadline for the creation of new political parties, new party affiliations and establishment of electoral domiciles for candidates who wish to run for these positions. The date is detailed in Electoral Calendar  2014, approved by the Plenary of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) and available on the Court's website.

The deadlines for "de-compatibilization" (mandatory license for public officials who will run for office) vary according to the position held by the candidate.

One-year deadline

According to Election Law (Law 9,504/1997), pre-candidates have to fulfill some obligations to run for office, including proving that they are affiliated to a party and that they have a voting domicile at least one year before the elections. One year before the elections is also the deadline for new parties to be registered in the TSE. Thus, those who wish to run for any office in 2014 had until October 5th to affiliate to a party, and new parties had the same deadline to be duly registered if they wish to launch candidacies from within their ranks for next year's election.

The Federal Constitution (in its Article 16) provides that any law that alters the electoral procedure must have entered into force at least one year prior to a particular election in order to apply to it.

The secretary of the Electoral Comptroller General's Office, Sergio Cardoso, clarifies that the Political Parties Law (Law 9,096/1995) required parties to submit their list of affiliated members to the Electoral Justice every six months. “The Electoral Justice uses these updates as the main source of data on the members of political parties for all purposes, including for registration of candidates for elective office," he explains.

He reiterates that Election Law defines as one of its requirements for application for candidacy "that the applicant be in good standing in regard of party affiliation for at least one year”. He adds that the bylaws of the political party may define more rigid rules, establishing periods greater than one year of party affiliation for registration purposes.

Party registration

Political parties planning to launch candidates in an election must be duly registered with the Electoral Court a year before that election, a requirement provided for in Article 4 of Election Law.

By late September, the Brazilian electoral system had 30 parties eligible to launch candidates for the 2014 elections, while four other associations were trying to register their new political parties with the TSE. They are the Republican Party of Social Order (PROS), the Solidarity Party, the Sustainability Network Party and the Arena. A fifth request, by the Brazilian Liberal Party (PLB), has been suspended on request from the party itself, since it still seeks support of the minimum voter support established in legislation.

The Regional Electoral Courts (TREs) have also received several requests for creation of new parties, which can be consulted in this link by clicking on "Partidos em formação" (Parties in Formation).

The last parties registered in the TSE were the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the Free Fatherland Party (PPL) and the National Ecological Party (PEN). The applications from the PSD and PPL were granted by the TSE in October 2011, which allowed the parties to launch candidates for election in the following year. The PEN, in turn, only had its registration granted in June 2012, and as such can only launch candidates for the 2014 elections.

Party affiliation

Candidates who wish to run for elective office must also have been affiliated to a party for at least one year on the day fixed for the election, or for longer if prescribed in the party bylaws (which cannot be changed in the year of the election). The determination is provided for in the Political Parties Law and the Election Law.

This is so because citizens can only apply for elective office if they have been affiliated to a political party for at least one year before the election and have been chosen in a caucus. In Brazil, independent candidacies are not allowed.

In case of merger of parties after the deadline (one year before the election), the date of affiliation to the original party is the one considered for eligibility purposes.

Party affiliation is the formal bond established between a political party and the voter, and is one of the eligibility conditions stipulated in Article 14 of the Constitution. Affiliation to a party is restricted to voters in full exercise of their political rights.

Voting domicile

Article 9 of Election Law also stipulates that individuals wishing to be candidates in 2014 must have electoral domicile (place of voting) in the electoral district in which they wish to run for office. This means that, in addition to being affiliated to a political party, the candidate must also transfer his/her voter ID to the location in which he/she wishes to be elected.

Analysis

Pre-candidates must submit their proof of party affiliation and electoral domicile at the moment they apply for candidacy (July 5, 2014 is the last day to request registration). The documentation will be evaluated by the TSE, in the case of candidates for President of the Republic, or by the Regional Electoral Courts of the state where the candidate is to run for office for the other positions (governor, senator, federal representative and state/federal district representative). Failure to prove fulfillment of any of these obligations may lead to rejection of the candidacy request.

Changes in the law

“Any law that alters the electoral procedure shall enter into force on the date of its publication, and shall not apply to elections that take place within one year from the date of its validity”. This is the so-called principle of non-retroactivity of electoral acts, established under Article 16 of the 1988 Constitution. Thus, in general terms, any changes to law that interfere with the electoral process had to come into force until October 5, 2014 to be in effect for next year's election.

De-compatibilization

Any person who intends to run for elective office next year and currently performs public service duties must be aware of the deadlines for "de-compatibilization" (i.e. the need to leave one's current public position so as not to be deemed ineligible in 2014).

According to the Law of ineligibility (Supplementary Law 64/1990), leave office is mandatory and must take place until six months before the election (April 5, 2014) for Ministers of State, heads of direct, military and civilian advisory bodies to the Presidency, magistrates and presidents, directors and superintendents of self-regulated public agencies, public corporations, mixed capital companies, public foundations and foundations maintained by the Government (among others).

Candidates running for President and governor may apply for re-election without leaving their office, but citizens who currently hold these positions and intend to run for a different elective position must also resign from office within six months before the election.

For other civil servants working for the bodies or entities of the direct or indirect administration of the Federal Government, States, Federal District and Municipalities, the deadline for leaving office is within three months before the election (July 5, 2014).

The TSE portal has a search page where users can find out the specific deadlines for de-compatibilization of each position. Searches can be made position desired and the one currently exercised. You can search here.

 

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