The Superior Electoral Court (TSE) has so far approved the formation of three party federations – one formed by PT, PCdoB and PV; another by PSDB and Citizenship; and one more, with Psol and Rede.
Now, these parties must be united for at least four years, sharing the same statute and board, in addition to forming a single bench in the National Congress. But why did these acronyms make this decision?
One of the main reasons is to save yourself from the barrier clause and thus keep receiving money from the Party Fund and the right to free time for party and electoral propaganda on radio and TV. Overcoming it is also a condition for obtaining internal positions, whether on the Board of Directors of the Chamber or in committees.
Barrier clause is nothing more than the requirement of a minimum performance at the polls so that a party has access to public resources to fund itself and to leadership positions in Congress. The idea is not new, and has already taken a number of forms over the decades in Brazil.
The logic is to encourage the fusion of parties, thus reducing the large number of parties represented in the Chamber. There are currently federal deputies from 23 parties, which makes it difficult to form cohesive majorities and favors negotiations with interests only in government positions and funds, without ideological ballast.
The most recent version of the mechanism was approved in 2017 and provides for a staggered increase in the barrier. In 2018, for example, in order to have access to the Party Fund and other advantages, the acronym had to obtain 1.5% of valid votes (excluding blanks and nulls) in the elections for the Chamber of Deputies.
In 2022, that rate is 2%. And it can’t be either way. The votes must have been received by the party in at least one third of the 27 units of the federation, and within each of them the party must obtain at least 1% of the valid votes. Alternatively, the clause is exceeded if the party elects at least 11 deputies in one third of the UF’s.
With the higher demand, many smaller parties were faced with the risk of not reaching the minimum votes needed in this year’s elections, and thus having their financial and political survival threatened.
This is the case, for example, of Rede, which currently has only two deputies, and Psol, whose bench in the Chamber has eight parliamentarians. For these parties, joining was the only way to continue receiving funds from the Party Fund and maintain their political strength within Congress. By joining the PSDB, Cidadania made the same calculation, as did PCdoB and PV, who joined the PT.
Unlike a merger, in the federation each party maintains its own initials, symbol and number on the ballot box, as well as its own affiliates. That is, each candidate remains affiliated to their own acronym. This allows them to continue to exist without having to be absorbed by larger subtitles.
Federations and coalitions
For all intents and purposes, the federations function as a party, which is why the legislation requires that the parties have ideological affinity in order to unite. This is one of the main differences between the new institute and the old coalitions, which were governed by purely electoral conveniences, being undone soon after the elections.
This is one of the main reasons, by the way, for the prohibition of coalitions in proportional elections, those that elect federal and state deputies. This is because, in this type of voting, votes are counted for all parties, as a block, with seats in the Chamber being distributed proportionally to the size of the vote in each of these blocks.
That is, in the old coalitions, when voting for a left-wing party, for example, the voter could help elect a deputy from a right-wing party, who for local conveniences had joined his ideological opposite.
In federations, votes for deputy are counted in the same way, but with the new rules, voters can be sure that their vote always goes to someone with whom they have an ideological affinity.
This is also the reason why the federation has a national reach, linking all the regional directories of the parties that compose it. In this way, acronyms are prevented, for example, from forming independent coalitions for majoritarian disputes, for governor or president. For this, all federated acronyms must be linked together, as a block.
Parties interested in contesting the 2022 elections as part of a federation have until tomorrow (31) to obtain the registration of joint statute in the TSE. However, there is no more time for the internal deliberation of the acronyms, and it is unlikely that other federations, in addition to the three already approved, will form.
The initial deadline for this was 1O of March, but was extended to May 31 by the Federal Supreme Court (STF) which, in February, affirmed the constitutionality of federations and recognized the difficulty for parties to adapt and negotiate a union.