Parties turn to party federations to continue in the electoral game

Parties turn to party federations to continue in the electoral game


Party federations gained momentum this year as the main tactic of parties represented in the Chamber of Deputies to deal with the challenges of the electoral performance rule, better known as the barrier clause, and to strengthen their influence in the plenary.

The first months of 2024 were marked by the intensification of negotiations for new arrangements, with targets in this year’s municipal elections and, above all, in the national elections in 2026. For some parties, alliances represent a means of boosting their projects. For others, they are the last card to continue in the ballot box game.

While União Brasil seeks to establish a center-right super federation with the PP and, possibly, the Republicans; The PSDB, already federated to Cidadania, seeks to stop the desertions by joining the PDT, with the hope of bringing Podemos into the pact.

Just as happened in 2022 with PT-PV-PCdoB, PSDB-Cidadania and PSol-Rede, party federations practically guarantee the achievement of more seats in the Chamber, according to the electoral coefficient, and compliance with the performance clause. The rule has been in force since 2018 and has been tightened with each election, with the counterpart that the federated parties continue together for the four years of the elected representatives’ mandate.

Without the protection of party federations, some parties may lose access to party and electoral funds, TV advertising hours and positions in the Chamber. For this reason, many negotiations conducted by party leaders are oriented beyond programmatic, ideological and historical aspects.

In parallel, the end of proportional coalitions and the gradual application of electoral legislation in recent years has induced a process of mergers and a reduction in the total number of party acronyms present in the Chamber, which reached its peak in 2018, with 30, and is currently in 23. According to experts consulted by People’s Gazettethe tendency is for this number to drop to eight after 2030, when the minimum percentage of votes will be 3%.

After the 2018 election, only the party that received at least 1.5% of the votes for deputy in the elections, distributed in at least nine of the 27 units of the Federation, with at least 1%, was entitled to party funds and propaganda time. of votes in each of them. Parties that did not reach these percentages had to elect at least nine deputies to maintain the benefit. The requirement rose to 2% of valid votes obtained in the country in 2022 and will be 2.5% in the following election.

União Brasil and PP aim for presidential candidacy

After months of internal disputes over control of União Brasil, with developments linked to the possible formation of a federation with PP and Republicans, the national executive finally managed to remove the president of the party, deputy Luciano Bivar (PE). The maneuver not only marks a turning point in the internal power dynamics, but also boosts the candidacy of the governor of Goiás, Ronaldo Caiado, for the Presidency of the Republic in 2026.

If the combination between the three parties comes to fruition, they will form the largest party arrangement in the country, with the potential to capture the Centrão and the right, in addition to already having the prospect of commanding the Chamber and the Senate. União Brasil has its favorite candidates for the election of presidents of both Houses in 2025: senator Davi Alcolumbre (AP) and deputy Elmar Nascimento (BA).

Smaller parties aim to survive with party federations

In another circumstance, PDT and PSDB, concerned with ensuring their political survival in the face of the barrier clause, have been negotiating a federation for the 2026 elections. The conversations are being led by the national president of the PSDB, the former governor of Goiás Marconi Perillo, senator Tasso Jereissati (PSDB) and former governor Ciro Gomes (PDT). The plan is to implement this alliance by 2025, in time to influence the elections for the Congress directors.

For the PSDB, the initiative gains even more relevance after its devastating performance in the 2022 elections, when it lost nine seats in the Chamber and saw its hegemony in the government of São Paulo, maintained for almost three decades, being broken.

The PDT, which previously negotiated an alliance with the PSB, had its plans frustrated after the recent break between Ciro Gomes and his brother, senator and former governor Cid Gomes, who migrated to the socialist party.

Experts see focus on party funds

For political scientist João Henrique Hummel, from Action Consultoria, parties have been guided by the rules of the barrier clause since the approval of the Proposed Amendment to the Constitution (PEC) of 2017, in response to the Federal Supreme Court (STF), which had knocked down before the mechanism.

For him, the tendency is for the party structure in the Chamber to be reduced to eight parties after 2030, and could reach seven depending on performance in 2026, especially from center and center-right parties.

The changes are in line with the progress made by the Legislature in recent years regarding the voting agenda and the definition of public policies, a role that challenges the Brazilian presidential system itself.

According to Bruno Carazza, political analyst and professor at Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC), the application of the barrier clause does not seem to be promoting significant ideological consistency in the remaining parties, although this was one of the justifications for its implementation.

The idea of ​​giving greater programmatic clarity to the subtitles, excluding from the electoral game those small ones that only sold time on TV electoral propaganda and votes for the government in the plenary, did not eliminate political pragmatism. Carazza argues that, instead, “the real game remains centered on control of candidacy offices and access to budgetary funds.”

He suggests that while reducing the number of parties may theoretically reduce political diversity, the resulting mergers and takeovers tend to attract a wider range of affiliations. The expert highlights that the main objective of the barrier clause was to guarantee governability, not necessarily ideological cohesion.

“Thus, ideological consistency will only be achieved with the improvement of party practices, such as internal debates and program discussions, but this process is often overshadowed by the volume of resources available in the fundão and in amendments”, he highlights.

PDT, PSDB and Novo are the main ones threatened

Leandro Gabiati, political scientist and director of Dominium Consultoria, says that the parties’ survival of the barrier clause is an issue that raises several stakes. He suggests that MDB, PSD, União Brasil, PSB, PT, Republicans, PL, PP and Podemos have a good chance of moving forward with their own efforts, while smaller parties need to evaluate strategies to stay in the game and not lose space.

The expert expresses doubts regarding special cases, such as PDT and PSDB, which have been discussing options for party federations since last year. As for the New, Gabiati is categorical in stating that its chances of survival are practically nil given the rules and its programmatic inflexibility.

7 parties failed to elect federal deputies in 2022

In this context, the formation of more party federations is a trend that will guarantee survival for parties that opt ​​for this tactic in the face of the challenges imposed by legislation.

The percentage that defines how many seats among the 513 deputies each party obtained is the same to determine their share of the billion-dollar pies of party and electoral funds, funded by the Treasury.

The 23 parties with seats in the Chamber are also fighting today to be included in the club of eight remaining, pressured for political survival. In the last election, seven of the 30 parties at the time were unable to elect deputies and many others were left in the spotlight, looking for shelter in mergers or federation, such as the agreement between PTB and Patriota, the incorporation of the PSC into Podemos and the Pros into Solidarity.

The barrier clause, established in 2017 as part of a political reform, aims to reduce party fragmentation in Brazil and concentrate the distribution of resources from party and electoral funds.

To maintain access to these resources since 2023, parties needed to elect at least 11 deputies, distributed across at least nine states, or obtain 2% of the valid votes for the Chamber in nine federative units. With the exception of Podemos, the parties currently involved in mergers did not reach the clause, as did Novo, which elected only three deputies.

In 2026, the minimum number of elected federal deputies will increase to 13 and the percentage of valid votes will rise to 2.5%. Parties that do not meet these criteria will lose access to party and electoral fund resources, as well as the right to free radio and television advertising, and participation in electoral debates.

To mitigate the impacts of the end of proportional coalitions, Congress approved the creation of party federations in 2021, allowing parties to come together to contest proportional elections.

Although changes to electoral rules aim to rationalize the political system and improve governability, the reduction in the number of parties is not expected to end the phenomenon of political polarization. In any case, as 2026 approaches, party federations emerge as a crucial strategy for parties to adapt to new electoral realities.

Polarization will have less weight in the 2024 election

For political scientist Ismael Almeida, although political polarization is an important aspect of the Brazilian scenario, the municipal election tends to give less importance to the clash between right and left.

“The campaign generally deals with everyday issues of local interest, with little regard for the ideological spectrum of the candidate for mayor or councilor. Just check that, in 2020, this logic prevailed, including with the re-election of many heads of the Executive”, he highlighted.

The expert bets that the trend in 2026, although it is a premature assessment, is for the right to crystallize as a political force, in fact established, regardless of the future of the so-called “Bolsonarism”, “which was just the visible face of a political spectrum that has always been present in society, but until then without a face and voice”.

Such a movement, he highlights, can already be seen within the parties that supported former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL), which adopted a more pragmatic line in their political relationship with the government, but without ceasing to establish themselves as right-wing in the eyes of voters.

Novo denies party federation and wants to create a support base

The president of Novo, Eduardo Ribeiro, rules out seeking to join a party federation to protect himself from the threats of tightening the barrier clause in the next elections for the Chamber. “We understand that there is no other party that even has any proximity to our worldview or our institutional culture. Therefore, at the moment there is no plan for federation,” he told People’s Gazette. The leader guaranteed that Novo will continue as a “free party”, acting alone in disputes at the polls this year and in 2026.

According to Ribeiro, the strategies that the party is taking to reach the minimum percentages of valid votes required by the barrier clause in 2026 involve engaging in gaining memberships and launching candidacies now.

“The first step is the 2024 election. Back in 2020, when we only contested in 46 municipalities, we lost the chance to build this capillarity with councilors and mayors. This error is now being corrected. We are already present in more than 333 municipalities and we should reach 500 for this year’s elections, which will give us a broad base of councilors, mayors, who will support candidates for deputy in 2026, definers of the barrier clause”, he explained. .

The president of Novo believes that the party managed to adopt a bold and even pragmatic strategy, using resources from the party fund that were deposited, to be able to launch more competitive candidacies, based on a more solid organization. “We are very confident that we will be able to reach the barrier clause not only in 2026, but in 2030 as well,” he said.

In the 2018 election, Novo elected eight deputies, a number that dropped to three in 2022, leaving the party threatened within the advance of other parties.


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