The Chief Justice of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Dias Toffoli, joined the Global Conference on Money in Politics this Tuesday (September 3) in Mexico. During a panel entitled "Holding political leaders accountable", the Chief Justice talked about political and electoral financing, which, he said, is a worldwide problem. In the Chief Justice’s view, the discussion on the topic must include a debate about the financing of democracy. “The way forward is to always protect the democratic foundations, the sovereignty of the people, the freedom to vote, as well as the trust and integrity of State policies," he said.
He recalled to the participants of the Conference that Brazil hosted the International Conference on Campaign Financing and Democracy last July, during which the publication "Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns: A Handbook" had its Portuguese version launched. The book includes the opinion of scholars on the matter and addresses issues related to money and politics, such as the high costs of campaigns, lack of popular support, illegal financing and unequal access to funding, among others.
About the end of campaign financing by companies in Brazil, Justice Toffoli said that private campaign funding is a perversion of democracy, which should not be financed by actors who are not entitled to vote. “A company can even defend its political causes, such as human rights, but there is a long gap before this could justify their participation in the political process, investing high amounts of money in campaigns," said the Chief Justice. For him, campaign financing should go hand in hand with the social actors who participate in the elections: voters, political parties and candidates.
“The high cost of campaigns is one of the main factors leading parties and candidates to seek funding sources that are compatible with increasingly higher costs", he pointed out. Toffoli made a brief overview of how financing in Brazil works, and recalled that both the Supreme Court and Congress are discussing a ban on private donations.
In his statement, the Chief Justice reported on Brazil's experience regarding the political and electoral financing process, specifically on aspects related to oversight, transparency and sanctions. He said the structure, autonomy and impartiality of the Brazilian Electoral Justice System are solid pillars for assessing the accounts of parties and candidates. According to him, these attributes can be used as parameters to strengthen oversight agencies. On transparency, Toffoli recalled that the accounts supplied are public and disclosed on the World Wide Web. “Since 2002, Brazil has been using the Electoral Campaign Accountability System (SPCE), which has several advantages," he emphasized.
With regard to the sanctions applied, which act to curb financial crimes, the Chief Justice discussed what happens in Brazil, which applies punishments effective and proportionate to the gravity of the deviations, ranging from fines to loss of mandates by candidates and criminal sanctions.
The event, which began on September 3 and ends on Saturday (September 5), aims to find "solutions and best practices for the challenges posed by money in politics”.