Brazilians march against corruption to mark independence day
Despite a rash of recent corruption scandals in Brazil, bright spots are appearing, including today's 'March Against Corruption' in support of President Rousseff’s efforts to clean up the capital.
The performance of Brazil’s Congress, and particularly the governing coalition, makes one wonder whether the nation’s deliberative process should be moved somewhere else – far away from the alleged ‘representatives of the people.’Skip to next paragraph
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Congress is where the government’s coalition ‘allies’ select their robber baron cabinet ministers, the same ones that have been resigning one after the next in the wake of President Dilma Rousseff’s spring cleaning. Yet despite the rash of corruption scandals over the past months, and one particularly egregious ‘secret vote’ that recently absolved a deputy of grand corruption charges, a few bright spots have begun to appear. These include a parliamentary movement against corruption and a September 7 “March Against Corruption” in support of President Rousseff’s efforts to purge Brasilia.
The Super-Party Front Against Corruption
A group of parliamentarians led by Senator Pedro Simon (of the PMDB) have announced the creation of a “Super-Party Front Against Corruption.” The movement supports the faxina or cleaning that began shortly after President Rousseff took power. According to the Jornal Globo, Mr. Simon asks that the president “dialogue with us, chat, sit together to find a solution.” Simon’s plea does not sound like unconditional support for the fight against corruption, but rather a return to the amiguismo and ‘consensus impunity’ status quo. But at least the establishment of a ‘front’ against corruption is a promising sign that incentives are moving in the right direction.
Can Electoral Rewards for Ethical Behavior Change Congress?
One deputy reinforces the idea that incentives to prioritize ethics do exist. Jose Reguffe, a 38-year-old deputy from Brasilia, is an ethical crusader who gave up half his staff, his complete travel allowance, and part of his ‘extra’ salary because he’d rather save public money than receive funds he claims he doesn’t need. In proportional terms, Mr. Reguffe won more votes than any other member of Congress (266,500), and with very little campaign money. The clear inference is that Brazilians reward honesty and ethical behavior. Although perhaps not the most novel conclusion for readers used to seeing dishonest behavior punished, it is highly significant for a country where assumed or proven dishonesty often has little bearing on election results or political support more generally.