Note from BBT: Today is November 15th and it’s election time. Millions of Brazilians will head to the polls to cast their votes for thousands of candidates for various political positions. This year we will see more black and brown candidates than have ever been seen in the history of Brazilian elections, well, at least in quotation marks. According to official reports, this is what’s being reported, but similar to the idea that black Brazilians are now the majority of public university students, this idea of a black or even black/brown majority of candidates is also debatable.
“Why?’ you might ask.
Well, as with anything having to do with race in Brazil, nothing is written in ink but rather pencil. What I mean is that, in Brazil, not only is it difficult to agree with 100% consensus that a person is white and not actually brown, or that a brown candidate isn’t actually black, now we have the issue of candidates switching their color classification on official voting data. As such, what does it really mean when the Brazilian press is telling us that black candidates are the majority of those running for office in 2020?
Candidates such as Cícero Almeida, Almeida Lima and Mário Rogério have re-classified themselves as brown for the 2020 election
Before you answer that, consider this. There are candidates in this year’s election that have reclassified themselves from white to brown, and as self-classifying brown people are considered part of the overall black population, candidates such as Cícero Almeida, Almeida Lima and Mário Rogério are thus considered black.
It is quite evident that part of the reason there is a large percentage of candidates switching their color classification is due to a recent ruling that declared black candidates (meaning black and brown candidates) must receive equal funding and campaign advertising time as white candidates. But even with this recent ruling, we are also seeing that political parties are not exactly abiding by this new ruling. For these reasons, in the end, similar to the
sham idea that blacks are the majority in Brazilian universities, you can best believe the color of power in Brazil won’t be changing any time soon.
Despite the majority, black candidates receive only 18% of the funds
By Helaine Martins
Brazilians across the country will head to polls today for the first round of mid-term elections with the new proportional division ruling of the Electoral Fund between self-declared negro (black, meaning black+brown) and branco (white) candidates, data collected by the 72horas platform at the TSE (Superior Electoral Court) already revealed a disparity in the distribution of resources.
Until November 1st, only 18% of the total amount went to preto (black) and pardo (brown) candidates for mayor and city councilors across the country.
The current rule provides that the parties must adopt the proportionality of the fund’s resources first considering the gender of the candidates and then the color and race. In other words, the amount must be distributed proportionately among the black and white women competitors, and between the black and white men.
In practice, this means that, in a black majority election, the amount should have already reached about 40% of the distribution.
Fefa Costa, a co-founder of the platform, says this isn’t what’s happening. Of the more than BRL 2.34 billion allocated by the TSE to the parties, only BRL 1.88 billion has already been declared, or just over half of what was distributed to finance the campaigns.
When a review is made by color or race, this discrepancy becomes more evident: BRL 645 million was passed on to white candidates while BRL 344.66 million came to brown candidates and only BRL 88.95 million to black candidates. “These values came from only 86 thousand candidacies within a universe of more than 545 thousand candidates”, she says.
What is observed is that there is an underfunding while the game is in play. In addition to black candidates being underfunded, they receive this money later. We have passed the middle of the electoral process and we have many candidacies, mainly of black women, who received almost nothing.
This is the case, for example, of the Republicano candidate for councilwoman Raimundinha HBB, who received only BRL 3,000 to fund her campaign in Teresina, Piauí.
Keit Lima, the candidate for city councilor, in São Paulo, received BRL 9,000 from the PSOL party. Roberto Robaina, male and white, from the state of Rio Grande do Sul, is the candidate for councilor who received the largest share of the Electoral Fund with BRL 151 thousand.
A member of the black movement organization Uneafro Brasil and the Coalizão Negra por Direitos (Black Coalition for Rights), Douglas Belchior recognizes the use of racial criteria in the division of electoral resources as a victory for the black movement, but says that the lack of regulation on how this money should be distributed within the parties maintains the priority structure that favors white people.
“We have parties that pretend to obey the rule, that create devices to apparently obey it without having to distribute the resources as they should. There are, for example, filters that define which candidacies are priorities in the distribution of resources: capitals, those that already have a mandate or with high visibility. Only afterwards is the policy of racial distribution considered. In other words, most blacks are already excluded,” he says.
Running for the City of Rio de Janeiro, Benedita da Silva (PT) is the self-declared preta (black) candidate who received the most funds of the Electoral Fund: BRL 3.18 million. Little compared to the white candidate who received the most funding. In São Paulo, Bruno Covas (PSDB) has 85% of his campaign for City Hall funded by the fund, having already received more than BRL 10.8 million.
For Frei David, coordinator of the NGO Educafro, the new rule came into effect at a time when the black community is more powerful and organized to denounce attempts to circumvent the division of resources. He criticizes the rise of women and blacks as vice-candidates on the slate across the country. “The money is going to the vice candidates, but only in quotation marks.”
To support black candidates in cases of non-compliance with the rule, the NGO has been mobilized legally. It made a model of public civil action available with an injunction request for anyone who wants to make a complaint in the Electoral Court. The objective is that, with the petition, the parties are held responsible for discrimination and prejudice in the electoral environment, which may even result in the forfeiture of a particular ticket.