How does the Brazilian electoral system work?

Do you know how the Brazilian electoral system works? The Brazilian electoral system is the way in which the choice of government representatives in Brazil works. This electoral system was established by the 1988 Constitution and is managed by the Superior Electoral Court. Every two years, elections are held in Brazil, and candidates are elected by popular vote.

Know more: Voter Card — the mandatory official document that enables a citizen to vote or stand as a candidate

Topics in this article

  • 1 - Summary on how the Brazilian electoral system works
  • 2 - How does the Brazilian electoral system work?
  • 3 - What is and how does the majority system work?
    • → Absolute majority
    • → Simple majority
  • 4 - What is the proportional system and how does it work?

Summary on how the Brazilian electoral system works

  • The Brazilian electoral system is the system by which the choice of government representatives of the Brazil.

  • The Brazilian electoral system had its dynamics established in the 1988 Constitution.

  • In it, voting is mandatory for everyone between 18 and 70 years old.

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  • There are two systems within the Brazilian electoral system: the majority system and the proportional system.

  • The majority system demands that the elected candidate achieve a simple or absolute majority in the election.

  • The proportional system demands that the candidate and his party meet the criterion known as the electoral quotient.

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How does the Brazilian electoral system work?

The Brazilian electoral system determines the choice of representatives governmental dthe country in the Legislature and Executive. They are chosen by popular vote, the means by which the population is able to participate directly in the Brazilian political process.

This system was established nothe Federal Constitution of 1988, and its functioning is the responsibility of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). The choice of governors and popular participation by vote take place in elections, held in our country every two years.

The Brazilian system can be organized as follows:

  • majority elections in a single round;

  • two-round majority elections;

  • proportional elections.

THE Constitution of 1988 it also determines who can vote to elect our representatives. According to article 14 of the Constitution, “popular sovereignty shall be exercised by the universal suffrage and by direct and secret vote, with equal value for all”. In other words, the Constitution determines that all Brazilian citizens (over 16 years of age) have the right to vote.

The Constitution stipulates that the people aged 18 to 70 are required to vote. Illiterates, people aged 16 or 17 and individuals over 70 can vote, but are not required to do so.

See too:Elections and the importance of voting

What is the majority system and how does it work?

The majority system works very simply: it determines that in order to be elected, the candidate (or candidates, in the case of senator election) must obtain an absolute majority of votes or a majority simple. We will understand why these two criteria exist.

→ Absolute majority

Achieving an absolute majority means that the candidate geteve more than 50% of the total valid votes. Remembering that to determine the result of an election, null and blank votes and voters absentees are discarded from the count, and only the electorate that actually voted for one is considered. candidate.

Thus, excluding null and blank votes and absent voters, there are still valid votes. The candidate who obtains more than 50% of the votes is elected. This counting mode is used for the election of presidents, governors and mayorsin cities with more than 200 thousand voters.

If an absolute majority is required, the election can be performed in two shifts. This is because if in the first round none of the candidates obtains the minimum number of votes to be elected (more than 50%), a second round is established with the two candidates with the most votes in the first.

The following is an example to understand how a majority election works with the need for an absolute majority of votes. The 2002 presidential election had the following result in the first round:

Result of the 2002 presidential election in the first round

Candidate

Broken

% of valid votes

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

EN

46,44

José Serra

PSDB

23,19

Anthony Garotinho

PSB

17,86

Ciro Gomes

PPS

11,97

Jose Maria

PSTU

0,47

Rui Costa

PCO

0,04


We can see that none of the candidates obtained more than 50% of the valid votes, and it was necessary to hold a second round with the two candidates with the most votes in the first. So, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and José Serra were the two who advanced to the dispute in the second round.

In this system, the winning candidate of the second round is the one who is elected. In the case of this election, the result was as follows:

Result of the 2002 presidential election in the second round

Candidate

Broken

% of valid votes

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

EN

61,27

José Serra

PSDB

38,73


With this result, we had the definition of the 2002 presidential race — Lula was elected president that year. As we have seen, this system also applies to the election of governors and mayors of cities with more than 200,000 voters.

→ Simple majority

In the case of a simple majority, it is not necessary for the candidate to obtain an absolute majority of votes. So, are elected the candidates who have the most votess, even if the percentage is less than 50%. The simple majority system is used for the election of senators and mayors of cities with less than 200,000 voters.

What is the proportional system and how does it work?

The proportional system, in turn, is used in the election for positions in the Legislature (with the exception of the position of senator), that is, election in councilors, state deputies, district deputies and federal deputies. In this system, the candidates with the most votes are not necessarily elected. The most voted from the parties that won legislative seats are elected.

This is because, in this system, the parties conquerm legislative seats through the number of votes it receivesram. What determines the number of legislative seats that a party received is whether or not it has won the minimum number of votes established by the electoral quotient. Once this accounting is done, the parties receive the number of seats proportional to their advantage.

So, if the electoral quotient is ten thousand votes and a specific party wins 70 thousand votes, that means it will have seven legislative seats. In this way, seven candidates from that party (the seven most voted) will be elected for the legislative seat they are running for. If a party does not reach the amount established by the electoral quotient, it will not win any seats.

Through this system, the candidates with the most votes are not always elected, since the distribution of vacancies takes place according to the criterion established by the electoral quotient. The quotient is established by the total number of valid votes divided by the number of seats available.

It is important to mention that candidates in the race must obtain at least 10% of the total votes in relation to the electoral quotient. Thus, if the electoral quotient is ten thousand votes, candidates must obtain at least 1000 votes in order to fill their party's legislative vacancies.

If a party does not have enough candidates to fill the vacancies won, Brazilian electoral legislation determines that that party must lose the unfilled seats, and they are redistributed to the other parties and candidates in the dispute.

By Daniel Neves Silva
History teacher

Would you like to reference this text in a school or academic work? Look:

SILVA, Daniel Neves. "Do you know how the Brazilian electoral system works?"; Brazil School. Available in: https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/politica/voce-sabe-como-funciona-o-sistema-eleitoral-brasileiro.htm. Accessed on May 6, 2022.

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