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Brazil online petition spurs anti-corruption bill vote

Brazilian activists have put pressure on lawmakers to lodge an emergency Senate vote on legislation banning corporate election donations.

06.06.2014
Brazil online petition spurs anti-corruption bill vote

SAO PAULO

Brazil's Senate is set to vote on previously-shelved legislation banning corporate election donations after pressure from thousands of ordinary Brazilians, online activist network Avaaz reported Thursday.

A group of 60 senators signed an emergency vote request for the legislation after receiving thousands of emails and phone calls and an online petition campaign, spearheaded by the network.

"Our politicians have been for sale for far too long, with the World Cup stadiums showing how out of control this has become," Avaaz campaign director, Michael Freitas Mohallem, said.

"The people of Brazil want elections, not auctions. This law could bring an end to Brazil’s shame and be bigger than any World Cup legacy."

A call-to-arms by the organization Tuesday drove a wave of phone calls and messages from 10,000 of Avaaz's 6 million members in Brazil, urging senators to call the urgent vote.

Roberto Requião, a senator for the southern state of Parana, led the request and praised mobilization as a "wake-up call."

"Suddenly, thousands of people learned about the bill. The virtual mobilization is wonderful and positive," Requião was quoted by Avaaz as saying. "Companies don't have citizenship; they don't vote; and if they decide to invest in politicians, it's to command their actions."

According to Democratic Political Reform, an umbrella group of Brazilian organizations, some 95 percent of election finances currently originates from corporations, which have led to accusations of corruption.

These have included controversy surrounding the tendering process for the construction of World Cup stadiums, particularly the Mané Garrincha in Brasília, the country's capital, which has itself faced criticism for its $900m price tag, despite its bleak future in a city devoid of a top-flight football team.

Mohallem, the anti-corruption campaign director, said one of the companies awarded a contract to build the stadium, Andrade Gutierrez, increased its political donations 500-fold, citing a report by the Associated Press.

Activists called for the urgent vote to be held before the World Cup, which begins in São Paulo on June 12. With the request lodged, the Senate must now vote on the new legislation, which would ban all companies from making electoral donations, by next Monday.

The original 2012 bill, which only targeted blacklisted companies, was shelved last month after amendments were made.

Political reform and an end to corruption were among the most prominent demands during the mass anti-government protests seen across Brazil in June 2013.

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