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Regional Strength of the Parties

Within the basic government coalition--the PFL (Liberal Front Party), the PSDB (Brazilian Social Democracy Party), and the PTB (Brazilian Labor Party)--the PFL is highly concentrated in the Northeast (Bahia and Pernambuco), and the PSDB to a lesser degree in the Southeast (São Paulo and Minas Gerais). Almost half of the PSDB deputies elected in the Northeast came from Ceará; the PTB elected only two deputies from the Northeast.

Those formally opposed to the new Cardoso government, led by the Workers' Party and PDT, are concentrated in the South and Southeast. The Workers' Party became the second largest delegation in the states of São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul in 1994, and slightly expanded its delegations in the North, Northeast, and Center-West (Centro-Oeste) regions. Although reduced from its 1990 size, the PDT remained the largest delegation in Rio de Janeiro, but fell to fourth rank in Rio Grande do Sul, after the PMDB (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party), Workers' Party, and PPR (Progressive Renewal Party).

The PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party) is highly concentrated in the Northeast; nearly half of its fifteen deputies come from Pernambuco. The PC do B (Communist Party of Brazil) is the only small party to have elected deputies in all five regions of Brazil in 1994. It presents a very dispersed pattern, with ten deputies elected in nine states. The PC do B dominated student associations (university and high school) in almost all states and was able to mobilize these young voters to concentrate their preferences on one or two PC do B candidates in each state.

The delegations of the four parties considered potential allies of the government are mostly concentrated in the North, Center-West, and South. In 1994 the PMDB's two largest delegations came from the Southeast (thirty-two) and Northeast (thirty). Nonetheless, the PMDB was weakened in those regions in the 1994 elections, even though it elected four of the nine Northeastern governors (Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte, Alagoas, and Paraíba).

As a result of its electing three of the seven governors in the North, the PPR elected the second largest delegation from that region. Its second regional concentration was in the South, where it was tied with the Workers' Party with twelve deputies. The PPR became the second largest delegation in Rio de Janeiro with seven deputies. Leading defeated coalitions in the runoffs in Goiás and Brasília, the Progressive Party became the second largest delegation in the Center-West, after the PMDB. Its best performances at the state level were in Minas Gerais (seven deputies) and in Paraná (six deputies).

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 radio/television time.

Data as of April 1997

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Brazil Table of Contents