The Superior Electoral Court (TSE) has been monitoring the flow through Congress of all bills which may promote changes in electoral legislation, whether through political reform or electoral reform. The Parliamentary Advisory (Aspar) division of the Court has been closely monitoring the discussions on the working group in the House of Representatives and in the Senate regarding these bills.
In order to be in effect for the 2014 general elections, the proposed electoral "mini-reform" and political reform must have been approved by Congress until October 5 this year, as required by the principle of electoral non-retroactivity established by Article 16 of the Federal Constitution.
The TSE has a broad collaboration with Congress. The President of the Court, Justice Cármen Lúcia, participated in the first Senate Thematic Session on political reform, held in the body's plenary room on 29 August. Invited by the Senate President, Senator Renan Calheiros, the Justice said that the Legislature has an arduous challenge in producing a political reform that responds to the needs of the population, but that the Congress can rely on the full support of the Electoral Justice to achieve success.
Earlier, on 25 April, TSE Justice Dias Toffoli, who acts as rapporteur of the instructions that will regulate the 2014 elections, attended a public hearing in the House of Representatives in which were discussed possible changes in the Election Law (Law 9.504/1997). The Justice participated in the opening of the working group that developed the electoral mini-reform bill sent to the House (currently awaiting vote in the plenary).
According to TSE parliamentary advisor Flávio Santana, the Court has provided intense and uninterrupted collaboration to Congress. Santana says that the TSE, through its Parliamentary Advisory, monitors all committee meetings, debates and publications of draft bills related to electoral matters, as well as the 1,200 bills pending in Congress that may change items of electoral legislation.
Santana explained that the political reform has a broader scope than the electoral reform, and is being debated in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The proposed reforms include, among others, the use of proportional electoral systems with closed lists, public campaign financing, end of reelection, optional voting, district voting, coincidence of elections, restrictions on coalitions and new dates for the inauguration of presidents and governors.
The electoral mini-reform is also under discussion in both the House and the Senate. It proposes changes to the Electoral Code (Law 4.737/1965), the Political Parties Law (Law 9.096/1995) and the Election Law. The changes are proposed specifically in order to be in effect for the general elections of 2014.
In the House of Representatives, the proposed mini-reform brings to discussion changes in the deadlines and form of accountability of campaigns. Another proposal concerns the establishment of a deadline for the substitution of candidates in statewide elections and of their respective photos in electronic ballot boxes. The deadline would be of up to 20 days before the election in the first round and up to 10 days before elections in the second round. Currently, substitutions can be made at any time.
Also under discussion is free campaigning on social networks, especially on Facebook and the Twitter microblogging platform. The idea would be to allow for free campaigning on social networks but keep the prohibitions for paid publicity and paid Internet service providers. It also discusses the situation of candidates running for election whose registration was denied and of pre-campaign acts.
The main topic of the mini-reform proposal being reviewed by the Senate is the reduction of campaign spending. Proposals being debated include reducing campaigning time and establishing spending limits, among other issues. The bill was approved by the Constitutionality and Justice Committee of the Senate, and is now headed for a vote in the plenary.
As for political reform, the Senate is currently discussing topics such as the end of reelections, coincidence of elections, coalitions, campaign financing, district voting, five-year terms and optional vote, among other issues.