Lula at COP 27: Prospects for Brazil’s foreign climate policy

by Giovanna Rosario*

Reviewed by Matheus Lucas Hebling


Because of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s electoral victory on 30 October, it was decreed that Brazilian domestic policy should, after having gone off course, be taken again in the opposite direction. This means as the president-elect said in his victory speech, a project for Brazil opposite to that of Jair Bolsonaro’s government.

After all, a left-wing candidate supported by the so-called “broad democratic front” defeated a far-right incumbent president who flirted several times with the possibility of not accepting the election results, thus joining Trump’s far-right path. Jair Bolsonaro did not congratulate Lula on his victory. Such an act would be an explicit recognition of the election result, which could demobilize his most radical supporters, who called for a coup d’état on unfounded accusations of electoral fraud.

However, the admission of defeat by the opponent has become something of a contingency in times of the rise of the extreme right. Of fundamental importance was that the recognition by civil society, the political elite, and the international community came immediately, as was the invitation of the president-elect to the COP 27 conference in Sharm El Sheikh.

Lula’s presence at the conference was marked by important bilateral meetings and a statement in which he made clear that the domestic change in his country would also be reflected in his foreign policy. The climate agenda, which was left out during four years of Jair Bolsonaro’s government, will take a central role in the new government.

The climate agenda under the Bolsonaro government

In the face of a foreign policy geared entirely to a domestic and ideological audience, the climate agenda, which is essentially a multilateral agenda given the impossibility of a unilateral or bilateral fight against climate change, has been sidelined, if not opposed.

According to the first foreign minister of Bolsonaro’s government, Ernesto Araújo, the “ideology of climate change” was nothing more than a left-wing creation to strengthen the power of international organizations over nation-states. The climate agenda was so unimportant and so strongly opposed that COP 25 in Brazil, which was to take place in 2019, the first year of Bolsonaro’s term, was canceled.

Brazilian foreign policy has never been subject to consensus among the groups that formed the Bolsonaro government. In an article published in 2019, researchers Guilherme Casarões and Daniel Flames divide the groups with potential influence on foreign policy into three groups. First are the economic liberals led by Economy Minister Paulo Guedes. In second place is the military. And finally, the self-proclaimed opponents of globalization, officially represented by then Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, among others. Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo was also responsible for shaping a foreign policy agenda that was entirely ideological and automatically aligned with former US President Donald Trump.

One does not have to delve deeply into the matter to realize that the Bolonarists’ foreign policy was largely dominated by anti-globalists. The idea was that the West had been taken over by dark globalist forces determined to undermine values based on God, family, and nation. In this sense, the “ideology of climate change”, according to the opponents of globalization, should be rejected. After all, it would not only be an opportunity for international organizations and other countries to interfere with Brazilian sovereignty, but also an obstacle to economic progress.

In this way, foreign policy under the Bolsonaro government consisted of a significant “deviation” from the position that the country had sought to define after re-democratization. Especially given the abandonment of the multilateral discussion forums and the termination of the claim to be at the forefront of the environmental agenda.

In the first two decades of the 21st century, Brazil’s maybe greatest commitment to combating climate change was to reduce deforestation. Between 2005 and 2012, the country managed to reduce the rate by 70%, thanks to measures to protect the Amazon during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002) and the first two governments of Lula (2003-2010). The country formally made this commitment in the 2015 Paris Agreement when it declared to end illegal deforestation by 2030. Although the country ratified the agreement, Bolsonaro threatened to withdraw from it after his election, as he intended to repeat what Donald Trump had done in the United States.

The idea of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement was not unintentional. Bolsonaro campaigned for the abolition of Brazilian environmental agencies, such as the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (Ibama), which, according to the president, would be responsible for an “environmental penal industry”. The Bolsonaro government’s former environment minister Ricardo Salles will go down in history as the only minister in the department so far to have been investigated for environmental offenses for allegedly facilitating the smuggling of environmental products, particularly Brazilian timber.

In this context of dismantling environmental policies, the Bolsonaro government has not only failed to fulfill the commitment to reduce deforestation made in the Paris Agreement but has increased the rate of deforestation in the Amazon by 73% in the first three years in office. Unsurprisingly, Bolsonaro has never been to a COP conference and every year has postponed disclosing data on Brazilian deforestation until after the event. After all, while Brazil was considered a role model in the fight against climate change in the early years of the 21st century, the country became a bogeyman under Bolsonaro’s government, while the president became one of the biggest targets for criticism from environmentalists and countries committed to the agenda.

Lula at COP 27 and the chance Brazil almost lost

In light of Lula’s election victory on 30 October, the president-elect was invited to COP 27 by the host of the event, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. Lula’s participation was a way to contain challenges to the election result, as few facts have greater legitimizing power than participation in a large and important international event like a COP. In addition, a new and energetic Brazilian position on the climate agenda was expected.
Lula did not disappoint the public. In his speech, he advocated for the country to once again take a protagonist role in international climate discussions and for the environmental issue to once again be given a top place on the government agenda.

Brazil is not a nuclear or military power and will not be in the future. Nor is it an inevitable player in economic discussions. However, it could be argued that there are two agendas that, even if they have not yet reached the status of high politics, are likely to conquer this status very soon. These agendas are Climate Security and Food Security. Brazil could become an inevitable player in this issue.

Brazil is the leader in net food exports. In 2021, the country was the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, the third largest exporter of corn and beans, and the leader in beef exports. But despite these achievements, Bolsonaro will leave the next government with the legacy of 33 million Brazilians who do not have enough to eat. The Amazon, the largest tropical forest in the world, is 60% in Brazil, but under Bolsonaro’s government deforestation has skyrocketed.

In his speech, Lula made clear that he knows the possibilities of the country and its contradictions. The president-elect announced: “The fight against climate change will have the highest priority in the structuring of my government”. He also stated that “we have 30 million hectares of degraded land. We have the technical knowledge to make it arable. We don’t have to cut down a single meter of forest to continue to be one of the biggest food producers in the world.”

Brazil almost missed the opportunity to lead the discussions in which it is a key player. These opportunities do not often come to developing countries. And it is not possible to have climate discussions and at the same time have record levels of deforestation or have discussions on food security when millions of people are starving. For a successful foreign policy, the domestic policy must also reflect this leadership. Lula’s presence at the COP was merely an important signal. A privileged international position awaits Brazil without Bolsonaro. But to achieve it, the country must embark on an arduous process of rebuilding its domestic politics and its image in the world.

Giovanna Rosário is a master’s student at IRI-USP and member of the EL22 project of Imakay Research Hub and NUPRI-USP.

Giovanna Rosário (2023) "Lula at COP 27: Prospects for Brazil’s foreign climate policy". Brazilian Research and Studies Blog. ISSN 2701-4924. Vol. 4 Num. 1. available at:, accessed on: February 4, 2023.

January 20th, 2023|Categories: Vol. 4 Num. 1|Tags: |

September: Brazilian presidential candidates on Twitter

by Alessandra Maia Terra de Faria, Carlos Trucíos, and Marcelos Cantañeda de Araújo

Reviewed by Matheus Lucas Hebling

Find out what and how presidential candidates tweet and are tweeted.


This research aims to follow the tweets related to the three main presidential candidates according to the opinion polls available for the 2022 elections in Brazil.



Daily tweets spanning from September 1st to September 30th were collected for each one of the three main candidates in the Brazilian presidential election. Tweets were collected from both candidates’ timelines and Twitter users mentioning the candidates, totaling more than  34.5 million tweets, the largest volume of monthly data obtained since the beginning of the survey. Data were extracted through a Twitter API used exclusively for academic purposes and analyzed using R software.

The authors thank Twitter for the academic accounts granted to them.

Herein is the updated data (September versus August, data as of November 29th, 2022) of Twitter followers for each of the candidates.

  • Bolsonaro – from 9.2 up to 10.5 million (about a 14% of increase in followers in comparison to the previous month)

  • Lula – from 4.8 up to 6.3 million (about a 31% of increase in followers in comparison to the previous month)

  • Ciro – from 1.5 million up to 1.6 million (about a 6% of increase in followers in comparison to the previous month)

Candidates’ tweets

In Image 1, we report the number of tweets on the candidates’ timelines, among the three that were part of our survey: Lula, Ciro, and Bolsonaro, according to the frequency with which the candidates tweeted in September.

Image 1: Timelines

In continuity with the overall performances observed the previous month, Ciro Gomes was the most active on the social network, followed by candidates Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro, respectively. In general, the three candidates increased their posting activity.

Images 2 and 3 present the most frequent words in the candidates’ timeline tweets and the most frequent words in the candidates’ timeline tweets weighted by the inverse document frequency (TF-IDF), respectively.

Image 2: Most frequently used words in the candidates’ timeline.

The analysis of the most frequent words in candidates’ timeline tweets (Image 2) allows us to present a dominant panorama of subjects they deal with. In common, the three profiles present the terms “people” [“povo”] and “Brazil”, the novelty is the coming back of the word “people”, as a share. The word “today” [“hoje”] continues appearing in Lula and Ciro’s profiles, although now the intersection observed between Ciro and Bolsonaro comes with the word “years” [“anos”]. If we observe Bolsonaro’s profile itself, the terms “government” [“governo”], “country” [“país”], and “all” [“todos”] stands out, and the mention of values in Reais [“r”] and “2022” continue to appear, also with a mention to the number “9”, probably referring to the current month. In Lula’s profile alone, it can be found the emphasis on the verbs “to do” [“fazer”] and “to have” [“ter”] and the nouns “country” [“país”], “day” [“dia”], “today” [“hoje”], “government” [“governo”] and the connective “why” [“porque”]. Those words denote a trend of continuity on the propositional character found until August, with the novelty of the term “why”, which emphasizes the explanatory activity. In Ciro’s profile, the concern to name the other two candidates remains, as to himself, and as observed since April. It is possible to highlight in the consolidated for the month of September, the mentions of terms like “about” [“sobre”], “program” [“programa”], “alive” [“vivo”], and “years” [“anos”].

Image  3 TF-IDF by candidates’ timeline

In Image 3, the TF-IDF (term frequency-inverse document frequency) reflects the frequency of words in candidate timeline tweets that are infrequent for the three candidates overall. Thereby:

  • In Lula’s profile, the news in September comes with the verbs “recover” [“recuperar”], “rebuild” [“reconstruir”], “to eat” [“comer”], “to want” [“querer”] and “to live” [“viver”]. Others are the nouns “drawing” [“desenho”], “Maranhão” [Brazilian State], “inclusion” [“inclusão”], the adjective “good” [“bom”], and the letter “L”, most probably due to his campaign slogan “Make the L!” [“Faz o L!”] through the internet.

  • Bolsonaro’s profile presents changes. The terms that appear are “construction” [“construção”], “bonds” [“títulos”], “paving” [“pavimentação”], “sale” [“venda”], “Embrappi”*, “bridge” [“ponte”], “diesel fuel” [“diesel”], “adequacy” [“adequação”], “km”, “br”, “2019”, “2022” and “kg”.

  • In Ciro’s profile, mentions of the words “Ciro” and “giro” continued. The new terms are “miss” [“perca” ], “alive” [“vivo”], “corrupt” [“corrupto”], “look” [“veja”***], “adm”, “Paula”, “Ana”, “1,000” and “debates” (The mention of Ana Paula Matos refers to the vice in his campaign).

*EMBRAPPI – Brazilian Company of Research and Industrial Innovation. Corporate Organization Qualified by Decree (02/09/2013) and supervised by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MCTI). [“Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa e Inovação Industrial. Organização Social Qualificada por Decreto (02/09/2013) e supervisionada pelo Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (MCTI)”], see https:f a //

** “Veja” also names a popular magazine in Brazil, see

Tweets about the candidate

The total number of tweets mentioning each candidate is displayed in Figure 4 and the daily evolution is in Figure 5.

Next, in Figure 4, we present, in descending order (from the most cited to the least cited), the total number of tweets that mentioned the name of each candidate surveyed in the month of August: Bolsonaro, Lula, and Ciro.

To collect the tweets mentioning the respective candidates, the words “Bolsonaro”, “Ciro” and “Lula” were used as search criteria. Tweets mentioning “Ciro Nogueira” were excluded from the analyzes referring to candidate Ciro.

Image 4: Number of tweets mentioning the candidates.

The volume of tweets about the candidates continues in the same order as in previous months: Bolsonaro, Lula, and, finally, Ciro.

The three candidates show a significant increase in the volume of user iterations mentioning each one of them. However, the increase is lower than that observed in the previous month.

  • The number of tweets mentioning Bolsonaro went from 13.455.826 to 16.784.820, representing an increase of 24.7% over the previous month (but lower than the 61% increase observed the month before).

  • The number of tweets mentioning Lula went from 10.189.718 para 13.899.696, representing an increase of 36% over the previous month (but lower than the 79% increase observed the month before).

  • Finally, the number of tweets mentioning Ciro went from 2.447.570 para 3.967.878, representing an increase of 62% over the previous month (but lower than the 237% increase observed the month before).

The daily evolution of tweets mentioning each candidate is shown in Image 5. The biggest highlight is the intense number of tweets, mainly, at the end of the month, between candidates Jair Bolsonaro and Lula da Silva, which converges with the increase of their dispute in the country’s electoral campaign political scenario.

Image 5: Daily evolution of tweets mentioning the candidates.

 Word clouds

 Finally, we present below three-word clouds with, excluding stop words, the top 100 words used in the interactions of Twitter users in September. For better visualization, each candidate’s name was taken from its cloud.

A word cloud is a graphical representation of the most frequent words within a text or set of texts.

Next, we present three-word clouds, where each one corresponds to a candidate. It is important to point out that each candidate’s name was taken from its cloud, for better visualization of the associated words. It should also be noted that each cloud reflects the 100 most relevant words associated, excluding stop words, to each candidate in the interactions of Twitter users on the thirtieth day of September.

In text analysis, stop words are quite common words such as “and”, “from”, “the”, etc. These words are not useful for analysis and are often removed before analysis.

Image 6: Word cloud for Bolsonaro

Image 7: Word cloud for Lula

Image 8: Word cloud for Ciro

When analyzing the clouds, we share the first impression of each one:

  • Bolsonaro: in the foreground, there can be observed “Lula” and “president” in prominence. In second place follows the words “Brasil”, “turn” [“turno”], “government” [“governo”], “against” [“contra”], “about” [“sobre”], “Ciro”, “TSE”***, “22”, “campaign” [“campanha”] and “now” [“agora”].

  • Lula: in the foreground appears “Bolsonaro”. Secondly, followed by the words “president”, “turn” [“turno”], “Ciro”, “vote” [“voto”], “to vote” [“votar”], “PT” [“Brazilian Worker’s Party”], “first” [“primeiro”] and “Brasil”.

  • Ciro: the trend of recent months remained in the foreground with “Lula” and “Bolsonaro”. In the background appears “turn” [“turno”], “to vote” [“votar”], “vote” [“voto”], “president” and “Tebet” (the last mentioning Simone Tebet, also a candidate running for 2022 elections in Brazil, for the MDB Party****).

*** In a broader sense. the electoral process in Brazil concerns the organizational phases of elections, also comprising a brief period thereafter. It is organized by the Electoral Court (EC), at the municipal, state, and federal levels. At the federal level, the EC has the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), headquartered in Brasília, as its highest body. In each state of the Federation and the Federal District, there is a Regional Electoral Court (TRE), and judges and electoral boards. See

****Now under the name MDB – “Brazilian Democratic Movement”, this Brazilian party was founded in 1965 as part of an “enforced” two-party system by the Brazilian military dictatorship, providing an “official controlled opposition”. With the redemocratization and political opening, in 1980 the former members of the MDB created the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party [“Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro”, PMDB]. However, after Dilma’s impeachment approval with the party support in 2016, and the election of Bolsonaro in 2018, the party adopted back its old name, in the very same election year. See

Sentiment analysis

The sentiment of each tweet was constructed by identifying the sentiments of the basic units (the words) using the Oplexicon v3.0 and Sentilex dictionaries, from the LexiconPT Package. Thus, each word found in the dictionaries receives 1, -1, or 0 scores, depending on whether the feeling is positive, negative, or neutral, respectively. Words not found in the dictionaries also receive a 0 score. The values assigned to each word within the tweet were added up, and depending on the result positive, negative, or zero, the sentiment of the tweet is classified. In Image 9, feelings (Negative, Neutral, and Positive) are presented in percentages per candidate. It is possible to highlight a balance between the feelings expressed in the tweets of the three candidates. Such data will be monitored over time comparatively. This is a picture, a sentimental snapshot of September on Twitter.

Candidate Ciro had the highest percentage of tweets with negative (31.30%) and neutral (41.33%) sentiments. On the other hand, Jair Bolsonaro had the highest percentage of tweets classified as positive (30.89%).

Image 9: Sentiments of tweets per candidate

Next, it will be possible to look at the word cloud of each candidate, separately, according to the feelings attributed to each tweet, in Images 10, 11, and 12. Words in pink appear in tweets rated as associated with positive feelings, words in blue appear in tweets rated as associated with negative feelings, and words in beige appear in tweets rated as neutral.

The word clouds consider the 200 most frequent words.

Image 10: Word cloud Sentiments for Bolsonaro

Image 11: Word cloud Sentiments for Lula

Image 12: Word cloud Sentiments for Ciro

  • Bolsonaro: Tweets related to candidate Bolsonaro that were classified as associated with positive feelings are characterized by words such as “money”, “alive”, “re-elected”, “Brasil”, “truth” and “better” [“dinheiro”, “vivo”, “reeleito”, “Brasil”, “verdade” e “melhor”]. On the other hand, tweets classified as associated with negative feelings are characterized by words such as “vote”, “corruption” ” to vote”, “guy”, “shame” and “convict” [ “voto”, “corrupção”, “votar”, “cara”, “vergonha” e “presidiário”]. Finally, tweets considered neutral highlight “president”, “22” and “Lula”.

  • Lula: Tweets related to candidate Lula that were classified as associated with positive feelings are characterized by words such as “votes”, “valid”, “victory”, “good”, “world” and “new” [“votos”, “válidos”, “vitória”, “bom”, “mundo” e “novo”]. Tweets classified as negative are characterized by words such as “vote”, “corruption”, “arrested”, “guy” and “convict” [“votar”, “corrupção”, “preso”, “cara” e “presidiário”]. Finally, tweets with neutral sentiment are mainly characterized by the terms “Bolsonaro” and “president”, followed by “turn”, “13” and “first” [“turno”, “13” e “primeiro”].

  • Ciro: Tweets related to candidate Ciro that were rated as associated with positive feelings are characterized by words such as “vote”, “useful”, “better”, “know”, “to vote”, “world” and truth” [“voto”, “útil”, “melhor”, “sabe”, “votar”, “mundo” e “verdade”]. Tweets classified as negative are characterized by words such as “to vote”, “go” and “guy” [“votar”, “vou” e “cara”]. Finally, tweets with neutral sentiment are characterized by words like “Bolsonaro” and “Lula”.

Final comments

The presentation of this dataset aims to contribute to interpretations about the movement on Twitter of presidential candidates in the 2022 elections in Brazil, as well as about what is said about them in the interactions of users of the platform throughout the month of September, in comparison to what was found August, July, June, May, and April. This is ongoing research work and will be refined over the months leading up to the 2022 election.


Alessandra Maia Terra de Faria, Social Sciences Department at PUC-RIO / PPGCS – UFRRJ. E-mail:

Carlos Trucíos, Department of Statistics, University of Campinas. E-mail:

Marcelo Castañeda de Araujo, Department of Business/UFRJ.


Alessandra Maia Terra de Faria, Carlos Trucíos and Marcelo Castañeda de Araujo (2022) "September: Brazilian presidential candidates on Twitter". Brazilian Research and Studies Blog. ISSN 2701-4924. Vol. 3 Num. 1. available at:, accessed on: February 4, 2023.

The pocket and the ballot box

by Bruno Marques Schaefer*

Reviewed by Matheus Lucas Hebling

The relationship between elections and money is complex and involves a series of predispositions about what we consider to be politics and politicians. The relationship between economic power and political power is sensitive, and since at least the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, it has been the subject of research in the Social Sciences. Discussing elections and money matters because election campaigns are not free; relationships between donors and politicians can lead to paid compromises later, and resource flows indicate power relationships.
In this sense, my goal is to address the challenges in discussing the relationship between money and politics; to trace a brief history of the regulation of this relationship in Brazil; where the country stands, in the world, concerning its model of financing politics; and, finally, discuss some considerations about the current model of financing politics.
The financing of politics can be seen as a market relationship, where we have supplied on one side and demand on the other. This analogy is not new, but it is helpful. On the demand side, we can consider candidates and parties that depend on resources to get elected. The mechanisms that link one thing to the other can be diverse, but we have to keep in mind that money is important for the purchase of campaign material, payment of employees, and advertisements on social networks, among others. In other words, we have two variables: money and votes. And some mechanisms link them so often (but not always) more expensive campaigns get elected.
On the supply side, we have the resources that are available (legally) to parties and candidates, both at election time and in day-to-day political work.
So we have supply and demand, a market in which resources are demanded, and we have specific sources of donors. In the Brazilian case, the changes in regulations of electoral and party financing have been the reaction to unexpected events or crises. And there is the regulation of supply.
Until 1993, Brazil’s legislation on political financing prohibited corporate donations to parties or candidates. The scandal that followed the election of Fernando Collor de Melo led to a new law. The realization that the presidential election campaign had used corporate resources to get the candidate elected was a catalyst for the Brazilian legislative to change its mind, allowing corporate donations (Law No. 8.713, 1993), forbidden during the Military Dictatorship.
In 1995, there was new legislation on political parties allowing corporate donations to these organizations. And in 1997, another law specific to elections was passed.
From 1993 to 2015, we had on the supply side to parties and candidates, private resources from companies, individuals, self-financing, and public resources (through the Party Fund). This last point is the most controversial. It is worth remembering that the Party Fund was created in 1971, i.e., during the military dictatorship.
With this configuration, the main share of funds for elections came from a few companies. According to data gathered by Mancuso, 70% of the resources used in electoral campaigns came from contributions from legal entities, with some companies, from some specific economic sectors, being the most relevant. For example, civil construction. We had a few companies donating a lot of resources to several candidates. If we look at the accounts for presidential candidates, for example, we see that companies donated to all candidates that had a chance of winning. That is, without ideological criteria.
The relationship between the supply of resources to parties and campaigns and the demand from the latter can generate a series of problems when it is based on certain promiscuity. For example exchange of favors between donors and political agents. The topic is complex and subject to regulation around the world, and we have seen, here, how problematic it has been.
In Brazil, the option, again, was the regulation of supply. In 2015, a Supreme Court decision declared unconstitutional corporate donations to campaigns and parties, in the wake of the Lava-Jato corruption scandal.
The consequence, on the one hand, was the strengthening of other sources such as resources from the candidates themselves (self-financing), individuals, and, above all, the increase in public resources for electoral campaigns. In the first case, we saw in 2016 the election of self-financed candidates, such as João Dória (PSDB-SP), in the second, donations from businessmen who now start to transfer resources via individual tax numbers (CPF) and not business tax numbers (CNPJ), and in the third, the increase in the Party Fund and the creation of the Special Fund for Campaign Financing (FEFC), respectively. The FEFC was created in 2017 and has been the subject of controversy ever since.
Today we see that the financing model for Brazilian politics continues to be mixed (that is, private and public resources), but now without contributions from companies, and with greater participation from the State (around 70% of the total).
The regulation of supply did not fall with the same weight on demand. On this side of the relationship are candidates and parties. Campaigns are expensive around the world, but in Brazil, they can be even more expensive for several reasons, the electoral system and the size of the districts being some of them. A candidate for state deputy, for example, runs for election against candidates from other parties besides his colleagues (given the open list aspect), in an entire state (which is the electoral district).
The main measure to try to decrease the number of resources, in the last years, was the establishment of a spending cap for campaigns. This has reduced the resources needed to get elected, but improvements are still required.
The Brazilian case, compared to other countries, presents particular characteristics. In the case of corporate donations, Brazil is part of a minority group that prohibits these groups from participating directly in the financing of politics. According to data from IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance), most countries do not prohibit companies from contributing directly to parties; however, the minority includes important cases such as the United States, Canada, France, and Portugal, among others.
In the case of public funding, Brazil is in the majority group. Most countries provide for a portion of their budget to be allocated to parties and/or electoral campaigns.
The difference in Brazil is the amount of these resources (in 2022 it was more than five billion reais), as well as the dependence on these amounts. Brazilian parties survive almost exclusively on public resources. Since 2015, on average more than 90% of everything the parties raise comes from the federal government’s budget.
This number is also frightening when we consider that in Brazil more than 10% of the voters are affiliated with some political party. However, few donate to them. This denotes, on the other hand, the absence of an effort by the organizations to find other sources of income.
One must also consider how these amounts are distributed. This is where a bottleneck in the legislation comes in. The National Executives of the parties have discretionary power, and enormous freedom to determine how the funds are distributed: to which candidate’s money will be sent and to which states or municipalities. According to many specialists, this freedom is not supported by article 17 of the Brazilian Constitution. In other words, the parties should have the autonomy to organize themselves, but public resources should be used according to a series of criteria and principles that, very often, are not followed. Public resources, in this case, may serve to maintain regional or national leadership, undermining mechanisms of internal democracy and the very legitimacy of the organizations.
Having exposed this data, it is important to consider that we are dealing with the legal resources that circulate in the campaigns. They are declared to the TSE. Although these values tell something about the Brazilian elections, they do not tell the whole story. Other resources can be considered in the analysis.
In 2022, for example, the two best-placed presidential campaigns declared 130.5 million reais (Lula-PT, elected) and 105.5 million reais (Bolsonaro-PL, defeated). The amounts are close to the spending ceiling for the position (133 million) and show differences concerning their origins. While for Lula most of the donations came from public funds, for Bolsonaro the funds came from private donors, especially large businessmen. Beyond the official statements, however, it is necessary to consider the expenditures that the incumbent (Bolsonaro) made throughout the election, through the federal government—reducing the ICMS tax rate on fuels to reduce the price of gasoline, increasing the Brazil-aid, paying aid to taxi drivers and truck drivers, etc. All measures aimed at reelection cost an estimated 20 to 80 billion Reais, depending on the calculation. This use of the machine, despite not being a direct campaign expense, denotes the complexity of the relationship between political and economic power.
Finally, the data from this relationship itself needs to be available to the population. The normative angle here is essential, but we also have to pay attention to the effect of any reform. Brazil is witnessing a reformist anxiety that ends up hastening changes. We don’t even wait for one change to take effect to produce others.
The problem we see is that the political system is experiencing a crisis of legitimacy. That is, the electorate does not trust, or evaluate well, its representatives. Measures such as the increase of public resources tend not to help this evaluation. However, we do not know to what extent funding is an issue for this same electorate. More research is needed in this regard.

Bruno Marques Schaefer is a Ph.D. in Political Science (UFRGS) and a researcher at the EL22 Elections Project of NUPRI-USP and Imakay Research Hub. The Portuguese version of this article is available here.

December 5th, 2022|Categories: ISSN 2701-4924, Vol. 3 Num. 1|Tags: |

BRaS Blog ISSN 2701-4924



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This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
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