Opinion by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Although it’s difficult to put aside the continual leakage of prominent political names appearing on Janot’s List of alleged malfeasants, the Curmudgeon will do so because there is an even more important list now making headlines — the “Party List”.
Under the Party List structure, only candidates for legislative office chosen by the political party leadership can appear on the ballot. Crucially, moreover, voters cannot vote for individual candidates; they can only vote for a political party. After the elections, once a party knows the number of legislative places to which it’s entitled, its leadership determines which candidates will have seats at the table.
As a reminder, under Brazil’s current electoral system, federal and state deputies are chosen statewide. Any registered member of a political party can become a candidate for legislative office, and almost all voters choose the individual candidate they favor, rather than casting a blanket party vote.
After the elections, once a party knows the number of legislative places to which it’s entitled, those party members who received the most votes are those who have seats at the table—the party leadership has no voice in this choice, because the electorate has spoken.
The Party List proposal was rejected out of hand in 2015 when Congress considered political reform, but it has been resuscitated by the Presidents of Brazil, its Senate and Chamber of Deputies, supported by an STF Justice, and it may just carry Congress this time around.
The sole motive behind the Party List proposal is Janot’s List. Scores of members of the government coalition parties appear on that list, and they fear retribution by voters in 2018 if the current voting system remains in place.
Because of the sheer numbers of those accused, it is highly unlikely that the STF will be able to try and convict any of the defendants before the 2018 elections occur, so they will still be eligible to hold legislative office.
The party list system, where corrupt leaders choose corrupt candidates, without fear of the wrath of voters, thus appears to be a lifeboat for those in the Titanic sinking ship of Brazil’s Congress and the Temer cabinet.
The Curmudgeon finds this strategy shameful, and he expects that, at the March 26 demonstrations, massive numbers of Brazilian voters will turn out to protest this putrid power grab by politicians who ought to be serving jail time for their crimes against Brazil and its people.