President of the TSE talks about Brazil´s electoral process during conversation with journalists

On February 25, Justice Marco Aurélio received four journalists for the weekly edition of the TV program called “The 2014 Elections – a conversation with the president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE)”.

On February 25, Justice Marco Aurélio received four journalists for the weekly edition of the TV program called “The 2014 Elections – a conversation with the president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE)”. Maria Lima, from Brazilian newspaper O Globo; Ricardo Anderáos, editorial diretor of the Brasil Post website; Manuel Martinez, correspondent for radio station El Espectador; and José Occhiuso, director of journalism at SBT Brasília were invited to an informal conversation with Justice Marco Aurélio.
In a preliminary remark, Justice Marco Aurélio noted the main purpose of the program is to discuss issues that really matter to citizens regarding the electoral process, and to disclose the activities developed and implemented by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), which is responsible for preparing this year´s elections.
Maria Lima initiated the questions, asking about the Court´s preparations to carry out a review of the resolution on electoral crimes, which limits the activities performed by the Prosecution Office. Justice Marco Aurélio replied that the case was emblematic, as it revealed the need for the judges to self-restrain themselves, as they were not allowed to legislate. According to the TSE president, Brazil´s Federal Constitution provides for the activities to be performed by the Prosecution Office, and that constituted sufficient reason for the TSE to move forward and amend the said resolution. “If we fail to do so, we run the risk of being admonished by the Federal Supreme Court (STF)”, he pointed out.
José Occhiuso questioned whether it would constitute an electoral crime if media vehicles disclosed their support to certain candidates. Justice Marco Aurélio replied that Law N. 9,504/97 had established rules that would prevent this public positioning in favor of candidates, and the purpose was not to “silence” the press, but instead, to prevent certain media vehicles from favoring their candidates through the granting of more exposure in relation to other competitors. The ideal, he noted, was to ensure a level playing field for all.
The president of the TSE underlined the need of appointing judges that worked exclusively for the Electoral Court System. Such understanding materialized in a response to journalist Marcos Martinez, who mentioned that other countries had questioned the delay of Brazilian courts to decide electoral cases. According to Justice Marco Aurélio, tardy procedures result in an overload of cases and it is necessary to rethink the existing infrastructure to ensure a swift and efficient work flow. “It is impossible to increase the current workload, as we do not seek to compromise the quality of our work for the sake of increased swiftness”, he said, noting that it was about time to consider the idea of establishing a permanent board of judges.
Finally, Justice Marco Aurélio stressed the fact that voters are the major target of the Electoral Court System in 2014. According to him, citizens must understand that each individual vote is unique, and yet, it plays a relevant role in the selection of the country´s representatives when added to other ballots that have already been cast. He also asked the press to support the TSE and publicize the court´s works so as to raise awareness of Brazilian voters of the importance of voting.
By the end of the program, the journalists commented on the talks with the president of the TSE, and Manuel Martinez noted that “Justice Marco Aurélio did not refuse to answer any question”. He made some complimentary remarks on the format of the program: “it is quite good, as it saves room for different questions that interest the society as a whole, and we, as journalists, try to represent society´s interests and submit these questions in the hope they get to be properly addressed”, he added.
According to Maria Lima, these talks help voters position themselves during the electoral process. “The format of the program is really nice, casual even; Justice Marco Aurélio does not avoid answering any question, which results in a program that is quite informative for Brazilian voters”, she noted.