The Chief Justice of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Justice Dias Toffoli, officially closed the International Conference on Campaign Financing and Democracy this Friday (12 June). The Conference was held in Brasilia by the Court with the support of the Federal Council of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB). Toffoli presented data on campaign financing spending in Brazil in 2014: according to the Chief Justice, the presidential campaign alone had total spending of more than USD 367 million. The victorious campaign by candidate Dilma Rousseff (PT), for example, spent more than USD 140 million.
The campaign by the runner-up, candidate Aécio Neves (PSDB), reached more than US$ 89 million. The Chief Justice of the TSE also revealed that a single private company donated a total USD 145 million to representative, senator and president races in 2014 alone. Said one company's donation to presidential campaigns totaled USD 21 million.
Justice Toffoli reported that 95% of all election campaigns relied on financing by companies, the other 5% running exclusively on public funds or personal resources. “Most of the declared campaign financing in Brazil was largely by corporations from three major sectors of the economy: food, financial system and construction," said the Justice .
During the closing ceremony of the event, Justice João Otávio de Noronha (Corregidor-General of the Electoral Justice System and Dean of the Electoral Judicial School (EJE)) stressed the need to maintain the campaign finance debate alive in the country. “The quality of the presentations and the engagement by the attendees here is proof of the importance of this thriving debate. Nothing more current today than the central theme of this Conference. The Judicial School cannot stop here," said the Justice, announcing that this discussion should continue in the second half of the year. “We are already preparing a seminar to discuss political reform," he said.
According to the Corregidor-General, the two themes together cover the legislative agenda and the Brazilian people's aspiration for reform in the political system. “I believe that the experience gained from the presentations can lead to ideas that can be taken to Congress. The Judiciary Power, attorneys and judicial schools cannot be left out of this debate," said the Justice, who wished that the political reform be completed before the end of this year.
The Secretary-General of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA International), Yves Leterme, said that debates like this need to be held around the world. “The financing of campaigns and the use of resources are challenges for the whole world, with many difficulties still left to face. Even in countries where democracy is well established, there are problems," he said.
According to him, IDEA International's cooperation with Brazil is an example of global effort. “The issue will also be discussed in Mexico and in European and Latin American countries, and I hope to get help that way," he said.
Visit to the TSE
After the official closing ceremony of the event, the Secretary-General of the Office of the Chief Justice, Carlos Vieira von Adamek, led some speakers through a tour of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE).
The guests toured the facilities of the TSE's Information Technology Secretariat. In the Network Operations Center (NOC), they were received by the Court's Infrastructure Coordinator, Cristiano Andrade, who presented some information on the voter biometric registration system. They then visited the Safe-Room, and finally got to know was the Toga Room and the Court Plenary.