By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – With less than three weeks to go before general elections in Brazil, gubernatorial candidates of three states announced they would withdraw their names from the ballots: a direct result of the Ficha Limpa law (Clean Record Law), say analysts.
During the weekend, in a 24-hour period Brasilia’s Jose Roberto Arruda of the PR (Party of the Republic), Mato Grosso’s Jose Riva (PSD – Social Democrat Party) and Roraima’s Neudo Campos (PP – Progressive Party) stepped down so that their parties could still compete in the elections. All three had been appealing the courts’ decision to bar them from running for public office.
“They [gubernatorial candidates] knew that the legal appeals would not be in their favor and decided to withdraw and give their parties a chance of being in the race,” says Luciano Santos, member of the Movimento de Combate à Corrupção Eleitoral – MCCE (Movement to Combat Electoral Corruption), and one of the authors of the Ficha Limpa bill. “Overall the results have been very positive,” Santos concludes.
The three former candidates are part of the 497 candidates deemed ineligible to run by the Ministério Público Federal – MPF (Federal Prosecutor’s Office) due to the Ficha Limpa law. São Paulo is the state with the greatest number of disqualified candidates, 78, followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 38 and Para with 31.
The number, however, is much greater if you count those would-be candidates who did not even run because they knew they would be barred by the law, says Santos. “There were many who did not even bother because they knew their candidacy would be thrown out,” he adds.
According to Congresso em Foco (Congress in Focus) a watchdog organization keeping tabs on this year’s elections, the 2014 elections are unique since it is the first time the Ficha Limpa Law will be applied in general elections. In 2012 the Ficha Limpa law was applied for the first time to mayors and city council members.
The organization’s founder, Sylvio Costa, has been uploading videos urging voters to research their candidates before voting on them. “Putting corrupt people and thieves in public office is out of the question,” he tells viewers.
The Ficha Limpa law, passed in 2010, makes it ineligible for those who have been convicted of corruption, mismanagement of public funds or electoral violations (such as vote tampering and vote buying) to run for public office for at least eight years.
The law, however, cannot dictate whom the parties will choose to substitute their former candidates. Although these three candidates will not be on the ballots on October 5th they will still be influential figures if their parties win the gubernatorial race: Campos and Riva were substituted by their respective wives, while Arruda’s former running mate is now running for mayor of Brasilia, while Arruda’s wife is running for vice-mayor.
In this year’s general elections more than 142.5 million Brazilians will vote for President, state governors, one third of the Senate as well as federal and state representatives.