Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Corporate Dependence in Brazil's 2010 Elections for Federal Deputy ?

Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Corporate Dependence in Brazil's 2010 Elections for Federal Deputy ?

Article excerpt

The Brazilian legislative elections of 2010 allowed candidates to take advantage of a variety of sources of campaign finance. One of these sources was the state, which makes available free television and radio airtime, but also funds parties directly1. Other legal sources of campaign funding are self-funding of candidates, private donations from individuals and companies, the sale of goods, fundraising events and income from financial investments. This study is limited to corporate donations to candidates who ran for federal deputy in 20102.

The financing of electoral campaigns by business is one of the principal forms of interaction between the corporate and political worlds (HAGGARD, SCHNEIDER and MAXFIELD, 1997). According to McMenamin (2009; 2012), a firm can contribute to electoral campaigns because of its ideological preferences, commitments arising from social ties to the recipient (e.g., friendship, family links, class identity, membership of the same social networks), a pragmatic desire to establish closer ties with the ruling party, or opposition parties with a greater chance of winning, independently of the profile of the recipient, and as reward for benefits given to the firm in the past - in the form of government contracts, favorable legislative or administrative decisions - and/or the expectation of gaining these benefits in the future.

The question of corporate political financing has been central to the debate on political reform in Brazil, for four reasons:

01. The amount of corporate money invested in elections is already high and increases with each election. According to data from the TSE, in the 2002 elections, direct corporate finance to Brazilian federal deputy candidates totaled BRL 110.2 million. In 2006, this number rose to BRL 211.8 million (an increase of 92.2% in a period of cumulative inflation of 35.5%, according to IBGE's IPC-A, the official inflation index). In the 2010 elections, the amount rose to BRL 371.1 million (an increase of 75.2% with inflation of 28.7%)3.

02. This financing originates mainly from large firms and business groups. In the 2010 elections, more than 19,000 companies made electoral donations, but the 70 largest donors alone accounted for half of donations (MANCUSO and FERRAZ, 2012).

03. Such financial support can distort democratic values, such as political competition (by benefitting the best-funded candidates) and political equality (by giving an advantage to the largest financiers).

04. Financial support can also encourage illicit bargaining between the financiers and the financed (MANCUSO, 2015; PRZEWORSKI, 2011; SPECK, 2007; SPECK and PFEIFFER, 2007).

For these reasons, in 2015 the Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal, STF) prohibited corporate financing of campaigns. Nonetheless, the Constitutional Amendment Proposal on political reform (PEC 182/07), approved by the Chamber of Deputies and now being debated in the Federal Senate (PEC 113-A/15), defends the reinstatement of this form of financing. The question is far from resolved.

In the 2010 elections, corporate campaign backing was visible. Candidates hoped that these campaign resources could increase their chances of electoral success (FIGUEIREDO FILHO, 2009; HEILER, 2011; LEMOS, SILVA e PEDERIVA, 2010; MANCUSO, 2012; MANCUSO e SPECK, 2012; SILVA, 2010; PEIXOTO, 2010; SAMUELS, 2001a, 2002). The electoral system for the Chamber of Deputies in Brazil is that of openlist proportional representation, in which the voters can cast ballots for a political party or for a candidate presented by a party or by a coalition of parties4. This system induces the candidates to compete not only against rivals from other parties, but also against members of their own coalition (CAREY and SHUGART, 1995; SAMUELS, 2001b). Wellfinanced electoral campaigns are one way for candidates to distinguish themselves and increase their chances of victory.

This study responds to a central question: what was the profile of the 2010 candidates for federal deputy whose campaigns most depended on corporate donations5? …

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