Brazilian 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
Data as of April 1997