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Brazil: Federal Supreme Court Decision Changes Electoral Law

(Nov. 2, 2007) On October 4, 2007, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court issued a decision determining that the "electoral mandates" (seats) of Members of Congress who keep switching from one political party to another belong to the political party on the basis of which they were initially elected and not to the Members themselves. The decision was made in response to a request for an injunction (Mandado de Segurança) filed by three political parties who were seeking the mandates of 23 Congress Members who had left their respective political parties after being elected. As a consequence of the decision, these Members can now lose their mandates. However, it was decided that the risk of loss of their mandates would only affect the Members who changed political parties after March 27, 2007, the date on which the Superior Electoral Tribunal had ruled on this issue.

In practice, any political party can now ask for the mandates of Members of Congress who change their political party, by filing the appropriate request with the proper Electoral Justice, who will analyze each request on a case-by-case basis. (Fidelidade Partidária: STF Decide que Mandato Pertence ao Partido. Infiéis Podem ser Cassados, O GLOBO (O)NLINE, Oct. 10, 2007.)