Context and Theory of Change
Key elements of context
- Historical entrenchment of corrupt practices within Brazil’s local and national politics (ranked 80/180 on Transparency International’s Corruption Index in 2008)
- Brazil’s political system dominated centrally - predominantly by white, male, upper class elite. Structure supportive of cronyism, with low representation of marginalised groups such as women, indigenous groups and people of African backgrounds.
- No regulation preventing people convicted of criminal offences from standing for office. Many posts held by politicians who had been convicted of crimes – including cash-for-votes offences, bribery and corruption.
- Some minor reforms were passed prior to 2008 attemptingto tackle issues such as corruption and representation – though most proposals were blocked by those in power who benefitted from the existing system and were threatened by the implications of reform.
- The Brazilian constitution provides for Popular Initiative Bills, which means that if over 1.5 million people sign a petition stating that they are in favour of a particular reform or law, that legislation must be voted on in Congress, and may then, if declared constitutional by the Federal Court, become law.
- Prior to the GTF period, there was growing cohesion among CSOs to tackle problems within the Brazilian political system. However, Brazil’s vast size and dispersed population have been limiting factors for unified campaigns and particularly engagement with the poorest and most marginalised.