According to study about recent elections, Brazil’s political parties continue to privilege white, male candidates

pesquisa partidos continuam privilegiando candidaturas de homens e de brancos 2
pesquisa partidos continuam privilegiando candidaturas de homens e de brancos 2


Candidates for mayoral race in Rio de Janeiro in debate televised by Band TV

Note from BW of Brazil: For those who don’t know, mayoral and city council elections took place this past Sunday. And before the results of the elections were even known, it was already possible to know that the dominant demographic of the elections wouldn’t change drastically. This is because even before millions of Brazilians took to the polls, we already knew that the dominant profile of the candidates was the same as it has always been: white and male. What does this mean? It’s pretty simple. If the same type of people are continuously elected, the results will most likely remain the same. Afro-Brazilian politicians are at a distinct disadvantage in Brazil’s political realm. First, because, in general, white candidates will always be preferred. Two, black candidates don’t receive the financial support that white candidates receive. Three, the country’s most visible parties, the PT, PMDB and PSDB as a rule, “don’t invest in blacks” and four, if they manage to overcome the first three obstacles, they cannot stand for a specifically black agenda because major donors and companies have no interest in demands of black social movements.  These are but a few of the reasons that Afro-Brazilians as a whole lack the political power to provoke change. 

Study: parties continue privileging candidacies of white men

By Isabela Vieira

Grupo de Estudo Multidisciplinares da Ação Afirmativa (Multidisciplinary Study Group of Affirmative Action), of the State University of Rio de Janeiro, released a study on the profile of gender and race of more than 400,000 candidates competing in the municipal elections  (Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)


Candidacies in the country continue leaving aside mulheres pretas, pardas e indígenas (black, brown and indigenous women). Most candidates for councilor or mayor in last week’s elections were men with  self-declared white men making up 58% in contention for a place as head of executive municipal.

The finding is by the Multidisciplinary Study Group of Affirmative Action (Gemaa), of the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), which this week released a study on the profile of gender and race of over 400,000 candidates across the country in about 30 parties.

By analyzing self-reported data by the candidate to the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), the researchers found that homens brancos e pardos (white and brown men) reached 66% of candidates for councilor, while women were 33%, bordering the mandatory ceiling, which is 30%. White women candidates were at an advantage and made up 17%, while the black and brown women were 15% – even with the latter being 27% of the population, i.e., one in three Brazilians is a non-white women, according to the 2010 Census of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.

In the competition for municipalities, white men are leaders. They made up 58% of competitors, while women are 12% of the candidates, 8% being white women – twice as much as non-white women. Black, brown and Indian men are also in number greater than its prevalence in the population, 29% of candidates, even though they make up 26% of Brazilians.

One of the study’s authors, professor of Gemaa, linked to the Institute of Social and Political Studies of Uerj, Luiz Augusto Campos, raises a number of hypotheses to explain the low representation of women and non-whites among the candidates. He cites the limitation in the party quota, “that is working as a quota for mulheres brancas (white women),” and the lack of support from the parties themselves to candidates who do not reflect their leadership.


Gemaa research also shows the absence of black, brown or indigenous candidates in big parties, those with more resources and chances to elect representatives, regardless of ideological profile, right or left. On the other hand, parties with the highest concentration of white applications are large or medium, connected to centrist or right wing ideas.

The three parties with more white candidates for city council chambers this year are the NOVO (90%), the PMDB (60%) and the PSDB (58%). At the other end, those with the largest number of self-declared blacks are PSTU (37%), PCB (19%) and PSOL (17%).

“Our hypothesis is that the node of all this [the under-representation of women and non-white people among the candidates registered] is the political party. It is the gateway to politics, that defines who will run or not. When it’s more traditional, of more traditional elites, it tends to reproduce these already established groups. When the party is new, it tends to be more open to input from other groups,” he said. “There is then a component that expresses racial bias, in the inertia of the elites of these parties to remain in power,” he critiqued.

Sought by the Agência Brasil, the national directory of the NOVO party said it is formed by people of all social classes and has two of the three poorest candidates and the highest number of women vying for a place in the City Council of São Paulo. “NOVO is the only party open to anyone, where any citizen can go through a selection process and be a candidate. Without being pawns of the so-called defenders of minorities,” he said.

The PMDB and the PSDB didn’t issue a statement before the publication of this report.


To ensure the election of more women and non-white candidates, the majority of the population, the professor defends minimum quotas, in addition to distribution, of an equal and even larger way of the resources to candidates with this profile. “The ideal would be a final quota that Parliament have a minimum percentage and that the chairs were distributed to these groups. But this would require changes that politicians, especially the elites of the parties, are not willing to make.”

The professor also advocates a partisan dimension from gender and race perspective. “The problem is at the entrance gate. The chances of a person with this profile remaining in politics multiply after elected once. The [racist] bias is not of the voter,” he said.

SourceAgência Brasil

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. You say little about the Vote. In America or any Free Democratic Nation, the individual vote is important. Can Afro-Brazilians vote freely? Are Afro-Brazilians confronted with barriers to lessen their vote? What are the qualifications to run for local or national elections?

    • I think this is the answer closest to the truth. BWFB keeps complaining that assimilation is a problem and it may be to quote “Black Identity” but it means you can run for offices previous thought to be off limits.

      The REAL problem here is the same as Blacks in the US complaining about the lack of Black coaches in College Football, NFL Football and running for major offices is not enough Blacks want to run (a) and (b) aren’t qualified and (c) can’t raise enough money.

      Blacks in America don’t trust each other, that’s why the majority of Obama’s early supporters are wealthy and White; while Negros questioned Obama’s authenticity IE is he Black enough as if marrying a Black woman when he had dated White women up to that point and had children with her wasn’t enough….

      That i am positive is the reason why you don’t have many Blacks running for high office in Brazil, lack of talent on the roster…

    • Something I should have added is that it has always seemed to me rather strange that the assassinated Bahian revolutionary Carlos Marighella never had anything to say about specifically black issues in Brazil.

  2. Hopefully Bolsonaro (right-wing) will win in 2018. It’s time for you guys to think for yourselves and stop victimizing yourselves so much. Work hard, study hard, and stop depending on the government to get money and succeed in life. Also, obey and respect the law and certainly no one will be killed by police, regardless of race.
    The North and Northeast need to wake up, just like the South, Southeast and Center-West already have, and stop voting for left-wing parties like PT.

    This only results in high taxes, which leads to a low quality of life and everything being expensive and only holds the country back.

    • It is always astounding for Blacks to be told that they are victimising themselves. Let it be clearly understood that we ARE victims. Now, simply because of that Blacks have to organise as Blacks if they want to make progress. And it is certainly NOT a matter of simply supporting left-wing parties as Marcio seems to think. All over Latin America the Lebanese-Syrians are organised and successful (ask Temer and Menem in Argentina). Let us take a page out of their book.That can only come about with self-respect, for starters.

      • Exactly. Blacks are victims to a point. That’s not excuse not to succeed when nobody is holding you back. In America everybody knows where Black people live and nobody else wants to live there, case closed.

  3. To someone like me, who lives far away from Brazil, this piece is enlightening as to how the Brazilian party machinery works as a bottleneck in the exclusion of black voting power. Yet, it seems to miss one major factor: the level of black consciousness itself. One cannot explain how is it that in cities like Salvador Bahia, where the population is 80 percent black, the population keeps electing white mayors (and an overwhelming majority of white council members) for years on end without factoring the level of consciousness of the black population itself. Therefore, I would disagree with the professor’s assessment that “the racist bias is not of the voter”. Beside the obvious racist bias among the white population, there is the unspoken racist bias of the black population against itself. So I believe that a little bit more militancy among the black population would go a long way in leveling off the playing field.

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