Democracy Group Blog
Curitiba Travel Blog› entry 5 of 5 › view all entries
You have been asked by the state department to prepare a constitutional overhaul for Brazil. The current electoral system has numerous problems and many complaints. You are to analyze the current electoral system and provide an alternative, describing the incentives for good government that your proposal will bring. To sell the program to the Brazilian public, your proposal must contain at least 3 soccer metaphors.
The populace of Brazil has become increasingly aware of the instability in the current electoral system. This vote of no confidence by the people has motivated the State Department to request a constitutional overhaul and a reform of the electoral system. Drawing from recent political discontent pertaining to misrepresented minorities in office, lack of transparency in financial records for campaign donators, and an absence of political parties to differentiate platforms, we propose the following alternatives and incentives for good governing strategies:
• In the Presidential, Gubernatorial, Mayoral, and Senatorial elections (the majority elections) it is required that at least three parties run, a candidate be registered for a party six months before the election, and the candidate can not defer from the party. These restrictions will allow more Brazilians to understand the concept of party affiliation. These party affiliations will align these personal views and desires with the most suitable candidate.
• The voting age will be changed from 16 years of age to 18 years of age. While voting is not required for Brazilians under the age of 18, it does not seem necessary that it be allowed at all. If the rules, laws, and regulations involved in these politics do not directly affect your life, then it does not seem right that you be given the opportunity to make a decision in them.
• In the d’Hondt proportional representational elections (city council etc.) districts will be created based on geographic regions for representation by the appropriate number of elected officials based on population. This regulation will make the smaller scale elections more organized for the sake of justice and the good of the people.
• Each party is required to submit forms declaring the percentage of minorities (women, youth, elderly, mulattos, blacks, Asian, Indian, etc) enlisted in the party register four weeks before the election. These statistics will be provided to the public via mass media independently and in a comparable chart to the other parties. This ruling has many implications. First, it provides the incentive for minorities to be elected into office. Political parties will want to increase their percentages of minorities to appeal to the population; therefore, more minorities will become active in politics. This will also be a great resource for the minorities to view the parties that best symbolize themselves. Women, for example, may want to vote for the party with the most women- for better representation. Our main goal is to help assist the mass of uneducated voters in Brazil. Many citizens are illiterate and therefore not at all well versed in politics. With this disadvantage, they may feel it better to at least align with a similar demographic group than to simply pick a random candidate or cast a blank ballot.
• Law Number 1,837 states: for individual businesses (not labor unions), it is legal to donate to candidates, but both parties and candidates are required to submit to the electoral courts detailed balance sheets listing contributors and expenses. Each party is also required to submit a balance sheet containing the make up of all investments and expenses- private, public, or otherwise- for public viewing through mass media four weeks before election. It will be recurrently published each week up to the date of election. While much of this information may be too complex for some of the populations, it will allow others to keep note of any unusual party happenings and in turn keep the parties in check.
• The assigned candidate numbers for elections will be given to all candidates at random. In the past, it has been noted that more popular candidates have been given easier numbers to memorize, while lesser-known candidates have more difficult numbers. Making all numbers a random draw will help all candidates have a more equal chance at election.
• Candidates are not allowed to contest the election under one party ticket and switch or assume office under another party. There will be no changing parties 3 months before the election.
• All politicians, in office and not, will not receive special pardoning from the law. They will be held in contempt for any crime they have or may commit. This will teach all politicians to respect the law and policy-making.
• On the ballot for the election, two changes are to be made:
o The names of the candidates must be their birth names. They are allowed to campaign with a nickname, but the name on the ballot must be their birth name. Some of the nicknames in the past few years have been inappropriate for serious political elections. We also hope that this reform will help people associate less with the personality and start moving towards the party association. Therefore, all nicknames will be kept off of the ballots.
o The candidates must submit a completed platform questionnaire created by the state department that will attempt to provide a stance from each candidate on three main public issues, selected from the public, a week before election. The response will be printed on the election ballot next to the name of the candidates or read along with the candidates name in the event that the voter is illiterate. This regulation is another attempt at informing the population of the general policies and views held by each candidate. While it is a rudimentary degree of information, it will clarify or inform some of the basics of candidate platforms if voters are unaware or confused during the electoral process.
Our main goal is to end corruption. With these proposed reforms, we believe Brazil has a chance to begin moving in the right direction.
To sell these reforms to the public, we will use three main metaphors that they should easily understand. Our primary goal is for them to understand that we are doing these reforms for them. We want to improve their lives with a better and less corrupt government. The metaphors we will use are:
• Who owns the ball?
o We decided to use this metaphor to show ownership. The people need to realize that this is their government too. They have the right to make choices and to voice their opinions in this democracy. We want them to see that they have the power to make change if they feel it is necessary. With our new reforms, we hope that they will become more aware of their politicians views on different issues, that they will feel more impelled to join a political party because of it’s political stance, and that they will take the opportunity to learn more about the Brazilian government in general. If they have broader knowledge of these topics, hopefully they will feel they have a bigger voice to speak out against what they believe in. We believe we are giving them the resources to start. Now we will see how far they can take it.
• Don’t miss an easy goal!
o This metaphor hints more at asking the people to make a stand. For voting purposes, we want them to see this metaphor and feel inclined to make a difference. We want them to realize that it’s not difficult, hence the phrase “easy goal”. Also, in a soccer match, the repercussions of missing an easy goal bring sorrow to the team and fans, especially in a close match. No one wants to feel the burden of missing that goal! If the people will stand up for their rights, we think they will feel much more united as a population despite race, sex, and how much money they have.
• The ball is on your side of the field.
o With this metaphor, the people should realize that it is their responsibility to make the true change in government and how the country is run. This metaphor is more serious and we hope that the people will take it earnestly. This can make all the difference for Brazil. It’s up to the people to make that stance.
Kopsa, Maxine. Amalia Pica and Gabriel Kuri- Watching it on TV! March 17, 2006. http://www.metropolism.org/page.php?node_id=175&l=en
Motta, Nelson. 'Be Patient,' Lula Asks Brazil. Brazzil Magazine. July 1, 2004. http://www.brazzil.com/content/view/1973/56/
Allen, John L. Jr. The Word From Rome. National Catholic Reporter. Vol. 5. No. 39. June 9, 2006. http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/word/word060906.htm
Altieri, Adhemar. Sao Paulo’s Balancing Act. BBC News. August 18, 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/3570402.stm
Stevens, Andrew. Newly Elected Politicians Switch Parties as Big Brazilian Mayors Eye Presidency. City Mayors Politics. http://www.citymayors.com/politics/brazil_politics105.html
Gutierrez, Alana. Bush Should Use Brazil's Corruption to Show Real Friendship. Brazzil Magazine. September 14, 2005. http://www.brazzil.com/content/view/9399/79/