Who to vote for in the legislature?

Image: Lucas Vinícius Pontes


Almost all members of the current federal legislature are representatives of the 1% at the top of the social pyramid.

We all know that our current Constitution, drawn up by a Constituent Assembly and enacted by it in 1988, establishes that Brazil is a Federative Republic, which brings together the Union, the States and the Municipalities in a Democratic State of Law, governed by three powers: the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary (Article 2).

We also know that this Constitution assigned to one of these powers, the Legislature, the specific function of establishing – through laws based on this Constitution, as the highest law, from which all others derive – the extent to which the rights and duties of citizens extend. and what the three powers at the federal, state and municipal levels can and should do.

The Constitution also says that it is up to the Executive to execute what the laws establish that can or should be done. The action of this power is, therefore, limited to what is authorized by laws approved by the Legislature, based on bills that the Executive itself forwards to it or presented by its members – or on the direct initiative of citizens, one of the novelties of the our current Constitution. He can only do, therefore, what the laws authorize him to do. And if you disrespect them, your boss – chosen by the people – may be removed from office by the Legislature, which is also responsible for supervising him.

The Judiciary, in turn, whose members are not chosen by the people, but exercise their functions because they have proven that they have the necessary competence to correctly interpret the laws and the Constitution, this gave it the function of judging conflicts between citizens and between citizens. these and the Executive Power, also according to what the laws say, and punish those who disrespect them.

The Legislative Power is, therefore, the power that produces the basis on which the other two powers rest. For this very reason, the Constitution gave this power a special form – based on the choice of democracy as a political regime (this regime was created in Greece two and a half thousand years ago with a name composed of the words “demos”, which means people and “kratias”, which means government): the Legislative Power thus takes the form of an Assembly that brings together all the people, and that takes decisions by majority vote.

Now, given the impossibility of organizing such an Assembly today, it is made up of representatives of the people, whom the people themselves choose directly, among citizens who apply for it. This ensures that – unlike dictatorships, in which political power is in the hands of a single person or a group of people – all power emanates from the people (single paragraph of article 1 of the Federal Constitution), or, in other words, otherwise, to which all power belongs (as was even proposed in the 1988 Constituent Assembly and was written in the Organic Law of the Municipality of São Paulo, its major municipal law).

This is where the great problem of our democracy arises: does the Legislative Power in Brazil, at its various levels, really represent the people? The least that can be said is that the people are very poorly represented in it, even more so in this legislature that is ending at the federal level, in the National Congress (Chamber of Deputies and Senate), and in the Legislative Assemblies of the states (state deputies).

At the federal level, almost all of its current members are men, rich and white, who represent big business, big industry, big export agriculture, big trade, the social segments that benefit from the exploitation of the other people's work, or who live off the income from their investments, or from financial speculation, or from privileges, and even from crimes and scams…. In other words, they almost exclusively represent the 1% at the top of the social pyramid.

They represent, for example, the large landowners who in 2016 owed, thanks to laws passed in Congress, almost 1 trillion reais to the Union (according to the Agribusiness Observatory). Or those who benefit from the clearance promoted by our current misgovernment, supported by 68% of the deputies of the Chamber (according to the Rwebsite uralometer 2022 Brazil Reporter); that is, by two out of every three deputies, who voted in favor of legislative changes (the famous “boiadas”) that undermined environmental inspection, favored predatory economic activities, precarious labor legislation in the city and countryside, hindered access to social benefits , among other setbacks.

In this framework, what space is left in our Congress for representatives of those who live from daily work, or women (52% of the population), blacks (56% of the population), indigenous people (survivors of a genocide that began in 1500) , the poor, retirees, young people, members of diverse minorities, the lower middle classes?

Now, we have learned over time that democracy is the political regime that best allows solutions to be found for collective problems and for the construction of effective social justice, a central objective of the 1988 Constitution. Because it opens the door to participation of the whole of society in this construction and in the search for these solutions, pressuring the powers in different ways and through its representatives elected by it to the Legislative Power, the power that makes the laws that order everything. At the same time, this regime requires that everyone be guaranteed freedom of opinion, expression, discussion, organization and action, within the limits established by law.

What does grossly unbalanced representation in our Legislatures do instead? By making the Legislative Power represent only the ultra-minority social segment that holds economic power in the country, it deals a hard blow to the very foundation of the three powers that govern it, which leads to the collapse of democracy.

What do we have to do about it? Conquer the Legislature for the people! And this is in our hands. We are the ones who elect our representatives in the Legislative! We urgently need to make the Legislature represent the entire Brazilian people! Overcoming many of our problems as a country – especially the different types of scandalous inequality that characterize it – is in the hands of its own people, in our hands! Let us not miss this opportunity that we have, in these October 2022 elections, to renew Congress and State Assemblies, making them effectively representative of the Brazilian people!

Let's vote for women, for blacks, for indigenous people! Let's vote for poor candidates! Let's not vote for candidates from parties that allied themselves with a President of the Republic who destroyed Brazil! And that they stopped monitoring and demanding the punishment of this president for his criminal actions and omissions in the face of the pandemic. Let's vote for candidates and parties that aim for the common good and not the conquest of privileges!

Let's discuss this message with our friends, family, neighbors, work colleagues, study colleagues, so that they become aware of the power that is in our hands as citizens, when it's time to vote! It is not enough to choose a President committed to the needs and desires of the people! It is also necessary to urgently conquer the Legislative Power for the people!

*Chico Whitaker is an architect and social activist. He was councilor in São Paulo. He is currently a consultant to the Brazilian Commission for Justice and Peace.


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