Campaign for clean elections

Campaign for clean elections in Brazil

For many years, delegates to the annual conferences of the International Labour Organization (ILO) at the Palais des Nations in Geneva have been offered an opportunity to visit the IofC conference centre in nearby Caux, Switzerland, and to learn about the work of Initiatives of Change. One of those who took this opportunity in 1970 was Jones Santos Neves Filho, who later became Vice-President of the National Confederation of Industries of Brazil and a Member of Parliament.

In the early 90s, Santos Neves Filho became concerned about the growing problem of corruption, which he regarded as the main obstacle to be tackled in the fight against poverty. Inspired by a Campaign for Clean Elections conducted in 1992 in Taiwan by Initiatives of Change, Santos Neves Filho launched a similar campaign in Brazil’s 1994 Presidential elections. Voters were invited to sign a pledge committing them not to accept bribes in exchange for their vote. Prospective candidates undertook, if elected, to support legislation to clean up the electoral process.

The IofC team organized a series of public events which were supported by the Catholic Church and parts of the media in Brazil. The campaign succeeded in raising awareness about the fight against corruption. Incidents of electoral fraud went down, politicians accused of wrongdoing were not re-elected and a fraudulent poll in Rio was overturned. An awakening took place within the population and the phrase 'clean elections' was taken up by the Federal Electoral Tribunal.

After the elections, the movement continued in different forms. One example was community leaders from two dozen favelas (slums) coming together in November 1995 to work towards restoring the moral fabric that binds society.