LAWMAKER RULES OUT REFORMS FOR BRAZIL'S 2014 ELECTIONS

12 Jul 2013 11:19

BRASILIA, July 10 (BERNAMA-NNN-XINHUA) -- A top Brazilian lawmaker has ruled out the feasibility of political reforms for 2014 general elections as proposed by President Dilma Rousseff.

A lack of time and consensus prevented lawmakers from organising a plebiscite to that end, President of the Chamber of Deputies Henrique Eduardo Alves said Tuesday.

"We need consensus in the chamber, and we need to respect the regulations of the chamber and the Constitution, as well as the deadlines established by the Superior Electoral Court. Those things make it impossible for the new rules to be applicable by 2014," Alves was quoted as saying by the official Agencia Brasil.

Alves, who spoke after meeting with leaders of all parties, said deputies proposed establishing a working group to discuss and prepare for a referendum instead of a plebiscite in 2014, which would mean political reforms would be applicable to municipal elections in 2016.

Under Brazilian law, a plebiscite is public consultation before legislation is drafted while a referendum is held after a bill is written.

The idea of a plebiscite taking place in the next few months is "so dead that a funeral has already been in store," said Henrique Cunha, a deputy to the chamber.

Last Thursday, Vice President Michel Temer said he saw no chance of holding a popular consultation before October. But he backtracked just a few hours later, reaffirming that the government was still pushing for a plebiscite that could make reforms applicable in next year's presidential and general elections.

Deputy Jose Guimaraes from Rousseff's Workers Party said Tuesday that his party will insist on holding a plebiscite in 2013, and will try to gather the 171 votes needed to maintain the project.

Rousseff last week proposed the plebiscite to quell massive anti-government protests by Brazilians angry with poor public services, serious corruption and excessive public spending.

Brazil's Supreme Electoral Court gave congress 70 days to plan and organise a plebiscite in order to have any resulting reforms on electoral laws approved by Oct 5, a year before the first round of general elections in 2014.

The Brazilian Constitution stipulates that any changes to electoral rules must be in force a year before polls are held.

The political reforms aim to, among other things, curb corruption by regulating election campaign financing and ending the practice of voting by secret ballot in congress.

--BERNAMA-NNN-XINHUA

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