Brazil online pressure spurs anti-corruption bill vote

Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO – Brazil’s Senate is set to vote on previously-shelved legislation banning corporate election donations after pressure from thousands of ordinary Brazilians, online activist network Avaaz reported on Thursday.

A group of 60 senators signed an urgent vote request for the newly-amended bill after receiving thousands of emails and phone calls as part of an online campaign spearheaded by the network.

“Our politicians have been for sale for far too long, with the World Cup stadiums showing how out-of-control this has become,” Avaaz campaign director Michael Freitas Mohallem said.

“The people of Brazil want elections, not auctions. This law could bring an end to Brazil’s shame and be bigger than any World Cup legacy.”

A call-to-arms by the organisation on Tuesday drove a wave of phone calls and messages from over 10,000 of Avaaz’s 6 million members in Brazil, pressing senators to call the urgent vote.

Roberto Requião, a senator for the southern state of Paraná (pictured), led the request and praised the mobilisation as a “wake-up call”:

“Suddenly, thousands of people learned about the bill. The virtual mobilization is wonderful and positive,” Requião was quoted by Avaaz as saying. “Companies don’t have citizenship; they don’t vote; and if they decide to invest in politicians, it’s to command their actions.”

Call-to-arms

According to Democratic Political Reform, an umbrella group of Brazilian organisations, some 95% of election finances currently originates from corporations, which have led to accusations of corruption.

These have included controversy surrounding the tendering process for the construction of World Cup stadiums, particularly the Mané Garrincha in the country’s capital, Brasília, which has faced criticism for its US$900m price tag, despite a bleak future in a city devoid of a top-flight football team.

Mohallem said one of the companies awarded a contract to build the stadium, Andrade Gutierrez, increased its political donations 500-fold, citing an AP report.

Activists called for the urgent vote to be held before the World Cup, which begins in São Paulo on 12 June.

With the request lodged, the Senate must now vote on the new legislation, which would ban all companies from making electoral donations, by next Monday.

The original 2012 bill, which only targeted blacklisted companies, was shelved last month after amendments were made.

Political reform and an end to corruption were among the most prominent demands during the mass anti-government protests seen across Brazil in June 2013.

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