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IDEA 20 YEARS

Chief Justice of the TSE discusses democracy in Latin America during event celebrating the 20th anniversary of IDEA International

The Chief Justice of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Dias Toffoli, joined an event on the morning of Wednesday (September 16) celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA International), held in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. The Chief Justice was one of the speakers for the seminar "Democracy: achievements and challenges over the past 20 years and prospects for the future,” and also spoke during the panel on "Regional developments and future prospects for democratic countries.”

In his speech, the Chief Justice addressed the main challenges facing democratic advances in Latin America. According to Toffoli, today's main challenge for Latin American nations is no longer that of earning the right to vote, but in fact enhancing the quality of democracy by expanding citizenship and strengthening institutions, among others.

To emphasize the importance of taking into account the historical, social and cultural peculiarities of Latin American countries, the Chief Justice noted that all these nations are currently suffering the impact of the economic crisis, which directly affects social cohesion and governance patterns. Nevertheless, he added, Latin American societies are more demanding in their claims, raising their voices for tackling the organized crime, transparency in public management and an end to impunity, for example.

Regarding the role of the Electoral Justice System for the deepening of democracy in Latin America, Justice Toffoli emphasized the importance of electoral magistrates acting to ensure formal correctness, honesty and fairness in elections. To this end, in his opinion, it is necessary that democratic States adopt measures that seek to prevent the abusive use of government resources in election campaigns and expand the oversight of campaign financing.

“This is a major challenge. For as long as Latin American countries fail to make progress in limiting contributions by corporations to candidates and parties, the elections in the region will continue to watch an unjustifiable and disproportionate submission of politics to money, which ultimately harms the inalienable sovereignty of the people," concluded the Chief Justice.

The seminar's keynote address was delivered by former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. It was also attended by Princess Victoria, heir of Sweden. Besides Chief Justice Dias Toffoli, the panel also had speeches from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Margot Wallstrom, the Secretary General of the European Council, Thorbjorn Jagland, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Hesham Youssef, former Election Commissioner of South Africa, Brigalia Bam, and the former Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Surin Pitsuwan.

Assembly

On Tuesday (15), the TSE Chief Justice spoke at the Assembly of the IDEA Council, and thanked the Member States for approving Brazil's accession to the organization. The Chief Justice also mentioned the purposes shared between the Brazilian Electoral Justice System and IDEA International, namely the defense of international cooperation as a tool for the promotion of free, integral and equitable elections.

Justice Toffoli commented on the initiatives developed by TSE in partnership with the Institute, such as the International Congress on Campaign Financing and Democracy, held in June this year at the Court's headquarters in Brasilia, and the launching of the Portuguese version of IDEA’s Handbook on political financing. He also pointed out the organization of the 8th Ibero-American Conference on Electoral Justice, to be held in Brazil in April 2016.

Also on Tuesday, the TSE Chief Justice was received by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Swedish Parliament. Tomorrow (17), Justice Toffoli will meet with the IDEA Secretary General, Yves Leterme.

The Brazilian delegation in Stockholm also includes the President of the Brazilian Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, Brazil's ambassador to Sweden, Marcos Pinta Gama, and the chief advisor to the TSE's International Office, Tarcisio Costa.

Check out the full text of the presentation about the perspectives of democracy in Latin America by the Chief Justice of the TSE (in Portuguese).

Click here for the Chief Justice's full speech at the Assembly of the IDEA Council (in Portuguese).