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Brazil - Legislative Branch

Federal Representatives change Party

This article based on a report by Veja magazine, issue #1840, Feb.11th.2004. Original article by Solano Nascimento.

The current Brazilian legislation does not prohibit any politician from changing Party, after being elected. Read more about the Brazilian law on Political Parties.
In 2003 alone, 114 Federal Deputies moved to another Party. In 2002, right after the elections, the coalition which supported President Lula had 130 Deputies; on January 1st.2003, when Lula took office, the coalition was already 252 strong, mostly because Deputies joined the coalition Parties. In January 2004, there are 376 Deputies supporting the President; this time, most increase derived from the fact that PMDB, the biggest Party in number of Deputies, officially joined the government alliance.
As a natural consequence, the opposition Parties are diminishing. The table below compares the number of Federal Deputies in October 2002, month of election, and January 2004.

Updated in August 24th 2005. New column added, with figures re: July 2005.

Party Oct.2002 Jan.2004 Jul. 2005
PT 91 91 90
PTB 26 51 45
PL 26 43 51
PP 38 43 55
PFL 84 67 59
PSDB 70 51 59
PT, PP, PTB, PL: some of the Parties of government coalition
PFL, PSDB: oposition Parties

PT, Worker's Party, didn't change, even being President Lula's Party. While in the oposition, PT always condemned the changing of Parties, and seems to keep coherency now. However, PTB and PL (this, the party of vice-President Jose de Alencar) are the ones with the largest growth; several Deputies openly admit to have moved to the government so as to make it easier to obtain public funds to benefit their home States and cities.
As it's clear from the table, most Deputies which joined PTB and PL left now opositionists PFL and PSDB (this, the Party of former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso). It must be remembered, of course, that when PSDB became the ruling Party, a similar growth happened; also, never did the former Parties try to change the legislation.
Right now, a bill to change this situation is in discussion; the most controversial alteration proposed is that votes would be for Parties, instead of candidates; the mandates would then belong to the Parties, not to Deputies or Senators. It remains to be seem if such a bill will find supporters among a Congress which saw 250 Deputies, almost half of its members, changing Parties during the last term (1999-2002).

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