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Brazilian leader submits demand for referendum

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Published : 2013-07-03 20:05
Updated : 2013-07-03 20:05

BRASILIA (AFP) ― Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s government on Tuesday submitted a demand to parliament to hold a referendum on political reform in response to the worst social unrest in 20 years.

The move came after three weeks of protests over corruption and public spending which marred the Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for next year’s football World Cup, which will also be held in Brazil.

The proposal for a plebiscite was delivered to senate and parliamentary president Renan Calheiros by Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo and vice president, Michel Temer, state news service Senado said.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff speaks during a news conference after the ministerial meeting in Brasilia on Monday. (AP-Yonhap News)

“Calheiros announced he would act so that any changes resulting from the referendum take effect from (October) 2014,” a year before presidential elections are to be held, Senado said.

Cardozo said the referendum will include the reform of election campaign financing, the parliamentary voting system, rules governing coalitions and legislation on secret ballots.

“The executive is merely making a simple suggestion,” Temer told reporters.

“It is parliament which will oversee (the process) from the start through to the conclusion.”

The protests began in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro over hikes in public transport fares but mushroomed into demands for improvements in crumbling public services and for an end to rampant corruption.

Some 1.5 million Brazilians took part in the protests at their height.

Leftist leader Rousseff last week proposed a national pact with state governors to boost public services and guarantee a balanced budget.

A Datafolha poll showed that 68 percent of Brazilians back Rousseff’s proposals.

Parliament reserves the right to call a referendum and to implement any resulting political reforms.

Rousseff has a majority in the legislature but some sections of that broad support are not always loyal.

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