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Brazilian Party Legislation

Party Legislation
Because Congress did not pass a new organic law for political parties in 1994, political parties until 1995 were regulated by a patchwork quilt of legislation: the 1988 constitution, the old Organic Law imposed by the military, and a host of individual laws passed over the past twenty years, including Election Law No. 8,713, passed on September 30, 1993. Parties are considered part of public law, and the state regulates and supervises them closely. Although Article 17 of the 1988 constitution states that parties are free to organize, fuse, incorporate, or dissolve themselves, Paragraph 2 of the same article states that after parties acquire a "legal personality" under civil law they may then register their statutes. Although Paragraph 1 states that parties are free to organize themselves internally, in reality they are governed by a detailed, complex, and often conflicting set of legal rules.

After 1985 provisional organization of new parties became easier: 101 members of the party sign a petition with bylaws, statutes, and a program, which are registered with the TSE (Superior Electoral Court). Definitive registry is more complicated; within a twelve-month period, the new party must organize state directorates in nine states and in one-third of the municipalities in each of these states.

In late August 1995, Congress finally passed the new Organic Law of Political Parties, which had been under consideration since 1989. This law imposed stiffer criteria for the registration of new parties, stated that party switchers might lose their mandate, and established a "weak" threshold of 3 percent for proportional elections (parties with less than 3 percent of the valid vote would not be allowed to operate in Congress, but those elected would be seated). Continuous party switching has been a problem in Congress. In the first five months of the 1995 legislature (February through June), more than forty federal deputies (8 percent) switched party labels at least once.

On the final deadline date of October 2, 1995, Law No. 9,100 was passed and published in the daily record; it regulated the municipal elections of October 3, 1996. Some minor changes were enacted: a 20 percent quota for female candidates for city councils; less transparency in campaign finance than in 1994; very high limits for campaign contributions (up to US$221,000.00 for businesses and US$51,500.00 for individual persons); and a return to the 1990 rules on free radio/television time.

Data as of April 1997



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Major Parties in Congress

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Minor Parties in Congress
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Party of National Reconstruction
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- Regional Strength of the Parties
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