Parties invest 3 times more in candidacies of white congressmen than black; with fewer resources, blacks & browns are equal to one-fifth of the 513 federal deputies

Pernambuco elegeu apenas três negros em 2014

Note from BW of Brazil: People often ask me, how is it that there are so many black people in Brazil but yet they seem to have so little power? It’s really not difficult to understand why. Success, money, beauty, intelligence and power in Brazil has ALWAYS been associated with white skin. The political game is clearly no different as we have seen. I remember reading somewhere some years ago that black candidates for political positions would often lighten the color of their skin in political campaign photos. But today, we are witnessing a change in the ideologies of black candidates. A new type of candidate that is black and not afraid to speak on black issues. The problem with this is that major donors and companies that support political campaigns have no interest in supporting black agendas and this is evident on election days. Below, we see another piece of the puzzle as to why black candidates have so many obstacles against them in elections. 

Parties invest three times more in candidacies of white congressmen than of blacks

With fewer resources, blacks and browns are equivalent to one-fifth of the 513 federal deputies

By Érika Motoda, Éros Mendes and Guilherme Osinski; Júlia Belas and Luiz Fernando Teixeira collaborated.

Eduardo Gonçalves Ribeiro
Elected in 1897, Eduardo Gonçalves Ribeiro the first black federal congressman in Brazil.

Journalist and military officer, Eduardo Gonçalves Ribeiro was the primeiro deputado federal negro (first black federal congressman) in Brazil, elected in 1897. More than a century after the election of Gonçalves, the presence of blacks in the Brazilian parliament is still something unusual. Currently, according to a survey conducted by the newspaper Estado, the Câmara (Chamber/House) has 21 lawmakers who declare themselves pretos (blacks) and 82 who consider themselves pardos (browns). In relation to the 513 seats, there are 103 deputados pretos e pardos (black and brown congressmen), representing a little more than a fifth of the composition of the House.

Slavery, the conservatism of voters and the lack of support from the parties help explain the low presence of blacks in Brazilian politics, according to José Henrique Artigas, a Ph.D in Political Science from the University of São Paulo (USP) and a professor in the Department of Social Sciences of the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB). “They are remnants of our society, of slave tradition. Unfortunately, the electorate is conservative and prejudiced,” says the expert. Check below, the political panorama of blacks in Brazil.

Do blacks raise less than whites to invest in their campaigns?

Yes. Of the 32 parties that declared the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) the money allocated to deputies in 2014, only two – PCdoB and PCB – allocated a larger value to blacks than to whites. Altogether, in the following surveys, 7,774 self-declared candidacies of pretos, pardos and brancos (whites) were counted by the State.

The 701 preto candidates raised a total of R$55 million, with an investment of R$78 thousand per candidate. The 2,229 pardo candidates were collected a little less than R $209 million, that is, the average is R$93,000 for each. Meanwhile, a branco candidate received an average of more than three times the amount a black politician received in 2014. The 4,144 brancos received almost R$ 1.2 billion in donations, which represents approximately R$ 285,000 for each of these politicians to invest in their campaigns.

Do blacks spend less than whites on their campaigns?

Yes. In the 2014 election, while the 701 candidates who declared themselves preto had an individual cost of R$ 80 thousand, according to a survey by the State, the 4,144 branco candidates disbursed an average of R $ 288 thousand each. The 2,229 candidates who called themselves pardos also had more resources to spend on their campaigns, with individual expenses averaging $92.4 thousand.

For the doctor in Ciências Políticas (Political Science) by the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) Bruno Lima Rocha, candidatos negros (black candidates) receive less resources due to their relationship with political parties. “Blacks spend less because they are not strengthened by their parties. Another factor may be the fragmentation of black candidacies, with not large-scale candidacies, like that of some influential personality of the movimento negro (black movement).”

Which parties most elect blacks in the House?

Proportionally, PSOL (Liberty and Socialism Party) and PC of B (Communist Party of Brazil) are the parties that most elect blacks as deputados federais (federal deputies or congressmen), with 20% of the bench. In gross figures, the PT (Workers’ Party) stands out. The acronym elected 7 pretos and 11 pardos. The one that least elected blacks was the PMDB (now MDB or Brazilian Democratic Party), with 1.6% representation in the House.

PT do B and PTC (Christian Workers’ Party) were the parties that elected the most deputies who declared themselves pardos, with the equivalent of half of the seats in the Chamber. Of the parties with representatives in the House, seven did not elect any pardo candidates.

Are there quotas for the candidacy of blacks?

No. Parties are not required by law to release a minimum number of black candidates, contrary to what has already occurred with candidacies of women since 2009. A bill authored by Senator João Capiberibe (PSB-AP), which provides for the allocation of at least 5% of the total party resources to candidatos afrodescendentes (candidates of African descent), has been in the House since 2013. The bill was approved by the Commission on Constitution, Justice and Citizenship (CCJ) in August 2017, but no vote was envisaged in plenary.

If approved, the text of Capiberibe will add a provision to Law 9.096/1995, to reduce the economic disparity between black candidates within the parties. A similar gender-related mechanism has been in place since 2015 and also provides for the allocation of at least 5% of resources to women.

Orlando Silva (PCdoB-SP)
Federal Congressman Orlando Silva (PCdoB-SP)

Federal deputy Orlando Silva (PCdoB-SP) says that the black movement lags behind that of women because the black community has not been able to unify flags to articulate parliamentary participation mechanisms. “They have organized themselves longer to have a representation,” admits the deputy, but argues that the women’s struggle for greater representation is driven by the growing debate around quotas in parliaments for women. “Globally, the organization of the gender parity banner ends up putting pressure on the parliament and making room for female representation,” he says.

Abdias Nascimento, líder negro. Foto Alaor Filho - 01.04.2004
Abdias Nascimento, black leader. (Photo: Alaor Filho – 04/01/2004)

What was the first public policy on racial equality bill?

Called compensatory action, PL 1.332/83 was the first proposal to implement the principle of black social equality in relation to the other ethnic segments of Brazil. The text, presented in 1983, was authored by Abdias Nascimento, a prominent figure in cultura negra (black culture) and founder of the Instituto de Pesquisas e Estudos Afro-Brasileiros (Ipeafro or Institute for Research and Afro-Brazilian Studies). The proposal received a favorable opinion in the commissions, but a resolution of the House determined that all the proposals of deputies that were processed until the eve of the publication of the Constitution of 1988 were archived. Among them was the Abdias project.

In 1993, the sociologist Florestan Fernandes, also engaged in the fight against racism, was re-elected federal deputy for the PT-SP. Florestan elaborated a proposal for a constitutional amendment that provided for policies to reduce racial inequality in Brazil, such as guaranteeing land and the inclusion of afrodescendentes in public education institutions. But an agreement between party leaders determined that the proposal would not be voted on. “Florestan proposed the first and only project to include the chapter of blacks in the Constitution,” says José Henrique Artigas, a doctorate in Political Science from USP and a professor in the Department of Social Sciences of the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB). “Although it was not approved, the initiative was later consolidated with the self-declaration of ethnicity, the consideration of afrodescendência (African ancestry) in the formulation of public policies and also with quotas.”

Thus, the first law draft on racial equality policies was only approved in 1994, proposed again by then senator Abdias do Nascimento to the government of Rio de Janeiro. He requested the creation of a police station for racial crimes to governor Leonel Brizola, who signed the decree. Some time later, Nascimento presented three other projects that deal with the crime of racism. Two, however, were arquived in the Senate. PLS 114/97, which deals with the protection of the honor and dignity of racial, ethnic and religious groups, has been awaiting a vote in the Chamber of Deputies since 2007.

What can come again in this scenario?

The Frente Favela Brasil (FFB or Brazil Favela Front), an organization that seeks more protagonism and dignity for blacks and residents of Brazilian favelas and peripheries, tried to approve the creation of its party in the TSE for the 2018 elections. But to get the acronym and the electoral number, the party needs to get at least 490,000 signatures from non-affiliated voters to support the movement.

O ator Lázaro Ramos e os ativistas Celso Athayde, Preto Zezé e Eliana Custódio
Actor Lázaro Ramos with activists Celso Athayde, Preto Zezé and Eliana Custódio

As the FFB did not get the minimum amount until the end of November, there is no longer time to participate in the 2018 election. The acronym was registered in the civil registry in August of this year, has a CNPJ (identification number of Brazilian companies) and has already registered the status of the party in the TSE, which should facilitate the participation of the organization in the municipal elections of 2020. The strategy now is to find parties that can host the FFB’s candidacy for the House next year, debating the issue with leading political leaders in each state.

Derson Maia
Derson Maia of the FFB

For the president of the FFB, Derson Maia, it is possible to elect more blacks. “The context shows that there is a breakdown of the political system. We want to bring visibility to this considerable portion of Brazilians.” Maia emphasizes that the Front seeks to serve the entire population, not just blacks and residents of favelas and peripheries. “There are several people who agree with this idea and who are helping us. Whites, people of the upper middle class, artistic class, who wants a change.”

The activist Douglas Belchior, founder of the Uneafro-Brasil Movement – a network of articulation of residents of peripheral regions through political training courses – also advocates a more heterogeneous Congress. “I believe in a projeto político para o povo negro (political project for black people). Confronting racism is a prerequisite for a just country. “

SourceEstadão Infográficos

About Marques Travae 2882 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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