During the last year, the Eletoral Justice was represented in several countries to discuss issues related to Electoral Law. In November 2016, after the municipal elections in Brazil, the president of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), Justice Gilmar Mendes, traveled to the United States, where he met with then Deputy Consul of Political Affairs, John Callan, and the Secretary- General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro Lemes. The mission to Washington was part of the United States Election Program (USEP), organized by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). At the time, it was agreed with the United States Department of State that Brazil could cooperate with for election observation in third countries, such as in Africa.
In early December, Justice Gilmar Mendes was in Stockholm, Sweden, where he met with the Director for Political Affairs of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Anna-Karin Eneström. They discussed the participation of both countries in the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistence (IDEA) and the perspectives of reform in the Brazilian electoral system. Also at the Swedish capital, Justice Gilmar Mendes participated in the 25th session of the Council of Member States of IDEA.
More recently, in May 2017, Justice Gilmar Mendes visited Saint Petersburg, Russia, to participate in the 14th European Conference of Electoral Organs, organized by the Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law), in cooperation with the Central Commission Electoral Council of Russia and the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States in St Petersburg.
On that occasion, he also met with Vasily Likhachev, a member of the Central Electoral Commission of the Russian Federation, and agreed that both countries will exchange visitors during their forthcoming elections. With the president of the St. Petersburg Electoral Commission, Viktor Pankevich, the topic of the conversation was the use of technologies such as electronic voting machine, as well as the institutional and operational aspects of the elections.
In April of this year, the Justice returned to the United States to speak at the “Brazil Conference” at Harvard University and MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He spoke on the Brazilian prison system and the ways the country has found to face the problem, with the help of the National Justice Council (CNJ). Justice Gilmar Mendes also mentioned program “Start Again” supported by the Electoral Justice, which offers jobs to former prison inmates.
The TSE maintains constant dialog with international bodies in order to promote democracy. In that regard, the Court issued a statement about the arrest of 2,750 magistrates and prosecutors in Turkey, accused of supporting the political coup d’etat attempted in that country. Justice Gilmar Mendes expressed his concern and affirmed that the case “compromised greatly the rule of law, deserving the repudiation of all”. For that reason, Justice Gilmar Mendes, on behalf of the Electoral Justice, requested measures by the Venice Commission and by International IDEA.
On March of 2017, Justice Gilmar Mendes signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Electoral Justice of Paraguay for sharing information and experiences on electoral financing.
The signature occurred at his cabinet at the TSE, when he received the vice-president of the Paraguayan Electoral Court, Maria Elena Wapenka.
“The political financing law of Paraguay is not very recent. Therefore we need to strengthen and have an exchange of experiences with the Electoral Court of Brazil”, she said at the occasion.
Also in 2017, on March 20th, the Court signed an agreement with International IDEA and the Federal Electoral Court of Mexico. The agreement aims at the collaboration between the institutions on research, training for jurisdictional activities and democracy-strengthening. “This is the starting point for a wide and joint work, whose implementation we wish to initiate as soon as possible”, said the President of TSE to explain that the exchange of information could take excellence cases adopted by a court as experience for the other court. He mentioned as an example “the jurisdictional calculation of irregularities, the improvement of the voters’ identification by means of biometrics and the efficient evaluation with database crossing”, among others.
In South America, the TSE was invited to participate on electoral events in Lima, Peru, and in Montevideo, Uruguay. Justice Gilmar Mendes accompanied the second round of the presidential election in which the Peruvian people elected Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. He participated as an electoral observer on behalf of UNASUR.
In Montevideo, at the headquarters of Uruguayan Parliament, the President of the TSE gave a lecture about "Financing of Political Parties and Electoral Campaigns". He spoke about donations exclusively from individuals and affirmed that the disorganized electoral financing has led Brazil to deep institutional instability. He also pointed out the challenges to be faced in our country in search for an electoral reform that could bring about solution to the financing problem.