The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
There are only a few days left until the elections. You probably know by now which candidates you are going to vote for president and the governor and their responsibilities. But what about senators and deputies, have you already chosen one? Do you know what they are responsible for? It’s time to find out!
What do they do?
We have 81 senators, and they compose the Federal Senate, representing each state of Brazil. Every state has three representatives who are elected by a majority system that consists of the election of the most voted candidate, just like the elections for president and governor.
The elections for senators happen every four years, but their mandate lasts eight years, so the Senate renews itself partially in each election, being one-third elected first and the other two-thirds in the next ballot. For example, this year 27 new senators will be elected (one-third) and, in 2026, the other 54 (two-thirds) will complete the renewal of the Senate.
Along with the Chamber of Deputies, the Federal Senate composes the National Congress. However, it has a bigger authority, due to its function of judging the possible responsibility crimes that the President, or the ministers, could commit. It was the case of the Pandemic’s Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry (CPI), in which senators gathered to judge the attitude of the current president, Jair Bolsonaro (PL), related to the covid-19 pandemic.
Besides that, the Senate should approve the indicated names for the Supreme Court (STF), Attorney General, and Central Bank’s presidents and directors. It also has great power in economic decisions.
Briefly, the Federal Senate is responsible for supervising the other branches of power.
Contrary to senators, deputies represent the population itself, so they are directly proportional to the number of inhabitants in each state. Divided by federal and state, they are elected by a proportional system. The vote you give to a candidate also counts as a vote to their political party, that’s why you can also vote for the whole party without choosing a single candidate.
It works nearly like this: each state has the right to a certain quantity of chairs in the Chamber for state deputies – according to its population (E.g.: São Paulo is the most populated state in Brazil, so it gets 70 of the 513 chairs) – each political party will have some of these chairs – according to the total of votes they’ve had –, and the most voted deputies in each party will occupy these chairs. However, for federal deputies, the division is different: it’s no longer based on the number of inhabitants and all states have equal 4 chairs.
In every election, you have to vote for one federal deputy and one state deputy. But what’s the difference between them? Both of them are responsible for elaborating laws, but the state ones will elaborate for the state they are elected, and the federal ones will elaborate for the whole country.
Why vote for them
According to Data Folha’s research, 16 days before the elections, 70% of the population still didn’t know which candidates they would vote for deputies. This number is critical and reflects how underrated these roles are.
The political scientist Kleber Santos explains why this underestimation is negative and its long-term effects on the country: “Deputies and senators dictate the country’s course. If there’s no National Congress’ approval, most of the President’s initiatives won’t become true”.
“This environment directly affects the economy, social justice, culture, education and health systems, and digital transformations, among others. It compromises the country’s future. The lack of interest and knowledge about the history and the objectives of who is receiving your vote are risks for the democracy”, describes Santos.
Brazil has one of the hugest polarizations ever seen. The fight between the ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) and Bolsonaro has been dividing the whole country in two. The voters are so occupied defending their candidate for the presidency, that they forget about the other rules that are going on in the elections.
According to Kleber, in a polarized electoral environment, all the protagonism goes to the ideological positions, platforms, and campaign acts of politicians leading the research for vote intention. Also, parties dedicate financial resources mostly to bigger campaigns, remaining less for proportional candidatures to show their differences and relevance for the electoral process.
This year, Brazil improved by 47% the number of teenagers between 16 and 18 years old that registered for voting. The political researcher advises young voters to use their vitality in politics to increase the debate for all the charges in dispute.
We are only a few days away from the elections, but there’s still time for you to make a decision and turn the country you live in into a better place. Make the difference!
Milena Casaca edited the article above.
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