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The Constitution determines that, to be eligible to run for political office, a person needs to be affiliated with a political party. It prohibits parties from using financial resources received from foreign entities or governments and becoming subordinate to them. In addition, federal law details the situations where the prohibition is enforced, including restrictions on foreigners’ participation in campaigns.

I. Foreign Donations to Campaigns and Political Parties

A. Constitutional Principles

Article 14 (§ 3)(V) of the Brazilian Constitution states that, according to the law, party affiliation is one of the conditions for elected office.[1]  Article 17 provides for freedom in the creation, merger, incorporation, and dissolution of political parties, with due regard for national sovereignty, the democratic regime, multiplicity of political parties, and fundamental human rights, observing the following precept

II - prohibition of receipt of financial assistance from foreign entities or governments or subordination to them.[2]

B. Law No. 9,096 of September 19, 1995

Law No. 9,096 of September 19, 1995, provides for political parties and regulates articles 17 and 14 (§ 3)(V) of the Constitution. 

Article 28 of Law No. 9,096 determines that, after a final decision, the Superior Electoral Tribunal must cancel the civil registration and the status of a political party that has been shown to have received or is now receiving financial resources of foreign origin or to be subordinate to a foreign entity or government.3

The political party, through its national, regional, and municipal bodies, must maintain accounting records showing the origin of its revenues and the nature of its expenses.[3]

Article 31 forbids political parties from receiving financial or monetary contributions or assistance, directly or indirectly, in any form or pretext,  including through publicity of any kind, from

I – [a] foreign entity or government;

II - public entities and legal entities of any nature, subject to the appropriations referred to in article 38 of Law No. 9,096 and those from the Special Fund for Campaign Financing (Fundo Especial de Financiamento de Campanha);

III - (revoked);

IV - class entity or union; [and]

V - natural persons who exercise a public function or position of free appointment and exoneration, or position or temporary public employment, except those affiliated to a political party.[4]

According to article 38, the Special Fund for Financial Assistance to Political Parties (Fundo Partidário) consists of

I - fines and pecuniary penalties applied under the terms of the Electoral Code and related laws;

II - financial resources allocated to it by law, whether permanent or contingent;

III - donations of individuals or legal entities, made through bank deposits directly in the account of the special fund; [and]

IV - Union budget appropriations in an amount never lower, each year, to the number of registered voters on December 31 of the year prior to the budget proposal, multiplied by 35 cents of Real, in values of August 1995.[5]

C. Law No. 9,504 of September 30, 1997

Article 24(I) of Law No. 9,504 of September 30, 1997, which establishes the norms for elections in the country, forbids, among other things, political parties and candidates receiving a donation in money or having a monetary value, directly or indirectly, including by publicity of any kind, from a foreign entity or government.[6]

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II. Foreign Finance of Advertisements or Communications

It seems that any type of financing with a foreign origin is prohibited by Law No. 9,096 of September 19, 1995, which states in article 31 that a political party is forbidden to receive financial or monetary contribution or assistance, directly or indirectly, in any form or pretext, including through publicity of any kind, that comes from a foreign entity or government.[7]

Furthermore, Law No. 9,504 of September 30, 1997, also prohibits a political party or candidate from receiving, directly or indirectly, a donation in money or having a monetary value, including by publicity of any kind, that comes from a foreign entity or government.[8]

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III. Communications by Foreign Persons about Elections during Campaigns

It seems that foreign persons or entities can communicate about elections during campaigns, provided that the comments are not electoral propaganda. Constitutional principles guarantee freedom of expression, and federal law regulates electoral propaganda and the free manifestation of thought (discussed below).

A. Constitutional Principles

According to article 5 of the Brazilian Constitution, everyone is equal before the law, with no distinction whatsoever, guaranteeing to Brazilians and foreigners residing in the country the inviolability of the rights to life, liberty, equality, security, and property, on the following terms

II - no one shall be compelled to do or refrain from doing something except by force of law;

IV - manifestation of thought is free, but anonymity is forbidden;

V - the right of reply is assured, in proportion to the offense, as well as compensation for pecuniary or moral damages or damages to reputation;

IX - expression of intellectual, artistic, scientific, and communication activity is free, independent of any censorship or license;

X – personal intimacy, private life, honor and reputation are inviolable, guaranteeing the right to compensation for pecuniary or moral damages resulting from the violation thereof;

XIII – exercise of any job, trade or profession is free, observing the professional qualifications that the law establishes; [and]

XIV - access to information is assured to everyone, protecting the confidentiality of sources when necessary for professional activity.[9]

Article 220 further determines that the expression of thoughts, creation, speech, and information, through whatever form, process or vehicle, must not be subject to any restrictions, observing the provisions of the Constitution.[10]

B. Electoral Propaganda

Law No. 9,504 of September 30, 1997, states that electoral propaganda is only allowed after August 15 of the election year (prior to the elections in October).[11] Any kind of paid political advertising on radio and television is not allowed.[12] Article 36-A lists the acts that do not constitute advance electoral propaganda, provided that they do not involve an explicit request for a vote, mention of the alleged candidacy, or exaltation of the personal qualities of the pre-candidates, which may be covered by the media, including via the internet.[13]

Expression of thought is free, but anonymity on the internet is forbidden during an electoral campaign. [14] The right to make a response is guaranteed, according to the terms of article 58 (§ 3)(IV)(a)(b) and (c) and article 58-A of Law No. 9,504, and by other means of interpersonal communication by electronic message.16

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IV. Participation of Aliens in Campaigns

The electoral legislation is silent regarding the participation of foreign persons in campaigns as employees or consultants. However, a foreigner would have to be allowed to do so according to Brazilian migration law, which states that a temporary visa may be granted to an immigrant who comes to Brazil to establish residence for a specified period of time to work.[15]  Subject to the provisions set forth in the regulations, temporary work visas may be granted to immigrants who come to work in Brazil, with or without an employment relationship, provided that they show a job offer formalized by a legal entity active in the country.[16] 

In addition, as mentioned above, both the Constitution and federal law forbid the receipt of money with a foreign origin.  Therefore, it seems that for a foreigner to work as an employee or consultant, he or she would have to have a job offer, obtain a temporary work visa, and be paid with domestic resources.  Presumably the undertaking of campaign or electioneering activities by persons employed by foreign entities would not be allowed.

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V. Reporting of Campaign Personnel Contacts with Foreign Persons

The researched legislation does not make any reference to mandatory reporting of contacts with foreigners regarding donations of money, information, or services.  The legislation, however, makes it very clear that the use of foreign financial resources is strictly prohibited.  Notwithstanding the silence of the legislation, article 5 of Law No. 9,096 of September 19, 1995, states that a political party's action must be “national in character” and exercised in accordance with the statute and program, without subordination to foreign entities or governments.[17]

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Eduardo Soares
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
August 2019


[2] Id. art. 17(II).

[3] Id. art. 30.

[4] Id. art. 31.

[5] Id. art. 38.

[6] Lei No. 9.504, de 30 de Setembro de 1997, art. 24(I), http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/leis/ L9504compilado.htm, archived at https://perma.cc/Z3SF-SAVY.

[7] Lei No. 9.096, art. 31(I).

[8] Lei No. 9.504, art. 24(I).

[9] C.F. art. 5.

[10] Id. art. 220.

[11] Lei No. 9.504, art. 36.

[12] Id. art. 36 (§ 2). Article 77 of the Constitution states that the President and the Vice-President of the Republic shall be elected simultaneously on the first Sunday of October for the first round, and if there should be a second round, on the last Sunday of October of the year prior to the termination of the mandate of the current president. C.F. art. 77.

[13] Id. art. 36-A.

[14] Id. art. 57-D.

[16] Id. art. 14 (§ 5).

[17] Lei No. 9.096, art. 5.

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Last Updated: 12/30/2020