By Stephen Shepherd, Marketing –
Recently, nearly all Brazilian citizens of voting age voted for their local and state representatives and, most importantly, their president. A heated debate on the topic of corruption began raging in the weeks, months and even years proceeding Election Day.
These are the first general elections since the enactment of a “Clean Record” law that demands “all those standing to be ‘clean candidates’ with no instances of illicit gain on their record.” The law has already disqualified approximately 250 candidates from running for office.
Most Brazilians are painfully aware of their representatives’ corruption, which has resulted in their organizing of anti-government demonstrations in a social media-driven campaign entitled “Wake up, Brazil!” that reached millions across the country. But little has changed.
A Legacy of Corruption
Many who have studied Brazilian history ascribe the country’s current corruption calamities in great part to the Portuguese government, whose primary intention in the 15th to 16th centuries was to exploit and export natural resources, not establish permanent colonies. Since then, Brazil has gone through multiple military coups and seven constitutions. The lack of political stability has generally ended up favoring the wealthy elite class, which has a record of abusing its power.
The modern-day system provides fertile ground for corruption to take root due in large part to the corporate financing of election campaigns.” Current President Dilma Rousseff and her party have been accused of using hundreds of millions of dollars of kickbacks on oil deals by state oil company Petrobras to fund her campaign.
A director at the oil company claimed that dozens of politicians – mostly from Rousseff’s political party – were involved. The situation is reminiscent of a cash-for-votes scandal that happened during Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva’s (nicknamed “Lula”) first term in office. Lula is Rousseff’s party mentor and was her presidential predecessor.
Polygraph ― Not a Tool in the Anti-Corruption Toolbox
The Clean Record law indicates progress, but it’s not a panacea by any means. Ironically, lie detection is of questionable legality in Brazil, because it purportedly invades privacy and challenges dignity. Even though citizens have less tolerance than ever for corruption, authorities have not yet found adequate solutions, and so the fight continues.
Polls show that Senator Aecio Neves, a business-oriented economist, has a slight lead over Rousseff in the final round of elections that will occur later this month. Only time will tell if Brazil’s newly elected politicians, especially the president, will succeed in honestly representing the people.