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  • In 2022, Brazil encountered a substantial challenge in ensuring the survival of its democracy: there was an urgent need to safeguard the integrity of the elections. For the first time since the country's redemocratization, explicit attacks were launched against the most fundamental and vital process in a democratic society. These attacks encompassed unfounded campaigns attempting to discredit our voting system, along with threats of illegitimate interference in the elections by the former president and his allies.


    In response to this critical situation, Pacto pela Democracy has developed a comprehensive and effective campaign to Defend the Elections. To address the numerous attacks on the electoral process swiftly, effectively, and in a coordinated manner, and to ensure the conduct of fair elections, we did what characterizes us and sets us apart: we formed broad coalitions.


    To achieve this, Pacto has expanded and strengthened its articulation abilities by combining strategies, efforts, and sharing information among civil society organizations and other stakeholders. This includes scholars, trade unions, and legal experts, in a multi-sectoral endeavor. In this unprecedented collaboration for the defense of democracy, the Pact also maintained important dialogues with crucial public figures responsible for safeguarding all stages of the electoral process. These figures include the Superior Electoral Court, Supreme Court justices, authorities from the Public Prosecutor's Office, national and international observers, parliamentarians from various political parties, and many other key actors. The common goal was to create an environment that would restrain the rise of authoritarianism.


    In the next section, we will detail the numerous measures we have taken to safeguard the integrity of the elections, undoubtedly one of the most important and bold achievements in the history of Pacto in defense of democracy in Brazil.

    Protect Democracy

    As threats to the electoral process escalated throughout 2021, we recognized the need for an extraordinary effort. We understood that a comprehensive approach involving key figures well beyond the Pacto's network, including prominent individuals from various sectors with significant economic and political influence, was crucial for the effective protection and defense of the electoral process.


    In July of that year, we took the first step by establishing the Civic Committee for the Defense of Elections. This committee brought together notable figures from diverse sectors, representing various political perspectives. The aim was to have them prepared and willing to mobilize their political capital in case threats to the integrity of the 2022 electoral process became more critical and imminent attacks loomed.


    As we predicted, the offensives escalated, and indeed, the Committee grew, gained autonomy, and fulfilled its mission: it orchestrated the most significant social mobilization in defense of the Democratic Rule of Law in Brazil on August 11th, 2022. Thousands of citizens across the country took to the streets and university campuses, demanding respect for the integrity of elections. People were mobilized by the launch of two manifestos within the Committee, read at the Law School of the University of São Paulo on that day: the "Carta às Brasileiras e aos Brasileiros em Defesa do Estado Democrático de Direito", ["Letter to Brazilian Women and Men in Defense of the Democratic Rule of Law"], crafted by students from Largo São Francisco, and by the "Manifesto in Defense of Democracy and Justice”. The latter garnered signatures from diverse sectors, ranging from union members to bankers, including prominent entities such as the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp), the Brazilian Federation of Banks, and a significant portion of the Brazilian GDP. This collective effort involved more than 100 civil society entities, forming the most extensive civic front in defense of democracy since the end of the dictatorship.

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    Within the Pacto network, efforts dedicated to defending the elections were already a priority since 2021. In November of that year, the Pacto pela Democracia launched a manifesto entitled: "A Pact for Free, Fair, and Peaceful Elections in 2022" ["Um pacto por eleições livres, íntegras e pacíficas em 2022"].


    This document marked the start of Pacto's dedicated commitment to the defense of elections, establishing it as a core activity for the upcoming year. It also appealed to all sectors of society to collaborate in ensuring the protection and fairness of the electoral process in 2022, initiating the coordination of efforts to safeguard Brazilian democracy.

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    To devise strategies against an authoritarian government seeking to undermine the electoral process, we drew inspiration from the experiences of other nations that had faced similar challenges, with a particular emphasis on the United States. Learning from how U.S. civil society successfully protected its elections in 2020 — given Bolsonaro's evident emulation of Donald Trump's tactics — we contacted key individuals and organizations and involve them in those efforts. This enabled us to gather insights, lessons, and inspiration for crafting and implementing our own strategy.


    One of the main lessons learned from these dialogues was the creation, maintenance and coordination of a secure and ongoing space for sharing information, monitoring risks and aligning strategies among players actively engaged in safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process and its outcomes.

    Round Table of Initiatives in Defense of Election Integrity

    Thus, the Pact established the Round Table of Initiatives in Defense of Election Integrity [Mesa de iniciativas em defesa da integridade das eleições], a forum that brought together organizations from within and outside our network with representatives from various sectors of society, including labor movements, scholars, and legal experts, in periodic meetings throughout the year.


    During these sessions, information and insights were exchanged, fears and concerns were expressed, risks were identified, and campaigns and impact strategies were born. Throughout this process, the development of trust and a deeper understanding of the capabilities of each organization made it possible for us to respond increasingly collectively and promptly to threats to the electoral process.


    As the attacks on the electoral system escalated and the elections approached, the civil society organizations comprising the Initiatives Table recognized the need to coordinate their actions to monitor and respond swiftly and assertively to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections during both the first and second rounds (October 2nd and 30th, 2022). With the aim of fostering efficient information exchange and rapid collective action on election days, the group decided to bring the organizations together in a situation room. This endeavor became known as the Civic Vigil in Defense of the Elections.

    Civic Vigil in Defense of Elections

    The Civic Vigil took place at the OAB-SP headquarters (Ordem dos Advogados de São Paulo, equivalent to a Bar Association in English-speaking countries) and brought together 120 individuals from 35 institutions, organized into 15 action fronts. They vigilantly monitored various potential risks to the regular course of the elections, offering crucial support to authorities to ensure that both the first and second rounds were conducted freely and fairly. Their efforts aimed to ensure that the results would be promptly acknowledged, even on the international stage.

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    The gathering of diverse actors from civil society in a shared space, marked by constant alerts and continuous exchanges, ready to act in defense of democracy, represents a unique initiative in the history of Brazil. This gathering is not only a significant milestone but also a meaningful opportunity for sharing experiences with the global civil society.

    During the Vigil, notable activities included monitoring threats to the free movement of voters, particularly due to operations by the Federal Highway Police (PRF) on the day of the second electoral round, which were not in accordance with the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). We also monitored in real time the narratives and information circulating on social networks during the voting period, allowing content producers to react to those that could jeopardize the course of the election.


    At the same time, significant efforts were directed towards the international recognition of the election results, ensuring that this would happen immediately after the release, rather than waiting for a customary delay, as is customary in these diplomatic situations. Those broad and quick acknowledgment were achieved thanks to the tireless efforts of the organizations during the Vigil, maintaining constant dialogue with governments and international representatives.

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    The Civic Vigil was the highlight of Pacto's performance during this two-year period, especially due to its unprecedented nature and the extremely positive results achieved both in promoting democracy and in uniting the organizations affiliated to the network.


    However, all of this was only possible due to the sequence of actions carried out by the Pact and its network throughout the 2021-2022 biennium, involving several carefully planned stages and strategies. The main ones are discussed below.

  • Engagement with Institutions and Public Authorities

    As attacks from the Executive branch escalated, it became imperative for the other branches of the government and other democratic institutions to act more firmly in defense of democracy and electoral integrity in Brazil. In this regard, Pacto coordinated advocacy campaigns and actively participated in institutional spaces dedicated to this purpose, engaging with the Judiciary, the Legislature, and other relevant stakeholders in Brazilian society.

    The Superior Electoral Court (TSE), then under the leadership of Minister Luís Roberto Barroso, made efforts to engage civil society in the electoral process. Still in 2021, two forums were created to actively involve civil society in advocating for election transparency and coordinating efforts to ensure the integrity of the electoral process: The Electoral Transparency Observatory (OTE) and the Electoral Transparency Committee (CTE).


    Pacto pela Democracia, along with dozens of other civil society organizations (20 of which are part of our network), political parties, and other entities, were invited to participate in the Electoral Transparency Observatory (OTE). This served as a space where the court could present action plans and gather suggestions from organized civil society. The Observatory was an innovative channel for articulation and enabled close contact between civil society and the presidents of the institutions.

    Another action of outstanding articulation with public authorities in Brasília, developed by the group of organizations that comprised the Electoral Transparency Observatory, was the Campaign in Defense of Elections. This initiative emerged in a period of recurring and systematic attacks by Bolsonaro and his base on the electoral process. The aim of the observatory was to strengthen relations with key political figures in order to create a stable and assertive environment for defending the electoral process.

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    The campaign was centered around the Manifesto in Defense of Elections, launched by the Pact in May 2022, and facilitated an extensive schedule of meetings with authorities involved in the Brazilian electoral process. The Pact and organizations within its network met with the President of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Luiz Fux, the presidents of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Minister Luís Roberto Barroso, Minister Edson Fachin, and Minister Alexandre de Moraes, the President of the National Congress, Senator Rodrigo Pacheco, the President of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), Roberto Simonetti, and the President of the National Association of Federal Prosecutors (ANPR), Ubiratan Cazetto, as well as parliamentarians from the democratic field.

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    The meetings where the manifesto was presented mobilized actors from political and state institutions to engage in the defense of the electoral process and institutions. The Globo News channel highlighted the delivery of the manifesto, as well as the coordination efforts between the Pact for Democracy network and the President of the Supreme Federal Court, Minister Luiz Fux. These events were subject to live analysis by the executive coordinator of Pacto, Flávia Pellegrino.

    After the delivery of the civil society manifesto, we also witnessed the movement of important actors, aligned with our position, making public statements in defense of the elections. This was evident in Minister Edson Fachin's powerful speech and in the remarks from the President of the National Congress, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD/MG).

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    The active involvement of organizations within the Pacto pela Democracia network played a crucial role in collaboratively shaping all these actions. It not only contributed to giving form and legitimacy to the delivery of manifestos and interactions with public authorities but was also essential in addressing sensitive issues that arose during the electoral period. These matters were meticulously worked on within the context of thematic Working Groups, created based on aspects that posed the greatest risks to the integrity of the 2022 elections.

    Collaboration within our network: Working Groups

    In the months leading up to the electoral period, engagements with institutional actors and political figures were just one focus of attention for Pacto pela Democracia. There was also collaboration within the Pact's own network, organized into Working Groups, enabling organized civil society to develop collective advocacy actions and share crucial information to ensure the defense of the electoral process.

    In 2022, three thematic working groups (WGs) were created: one focusing on gender-based political violence, another on disinformation, and a third on public security.

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    In September, as the election process started and organizations adopted a more forceful stance in defense of democracy through media channels and public discourse, the Pact for Democracy organized a Security Workshop for members of the network organizations. The goal was to introduce security measures to ensure that civil society could safeguard itself throughout the process. The training, carried out in partnership with Escola de Ativismo (School of Activism) and Transparency International Brazil, was attended by 60 organizations from the Pact's networks and the Brazilian Association of NGOs (Abong).

    Efforts to ensure the network's security also included maintaining active communication among the organizations. During the election period, we held monthly network plenary sessions — virtual meetings where we discussed the actions of Pacto and its organizations. These sessions provided a respectful space for listening to everyone in a particularly demanding period for activists and members of NGOs. We also kept the network and our expanded audience informed through the Pact's two weekly communication products, the Radar and the Newsletter, both focused on electoral topics.


    The necessity of broad coordination and the undertaking of various actions to ensure the integrity of the 2022 elections was the subject of an article published by the Pacto's executive coordinator, Flávia Pellegrino, in July 2022, for the Opinion section of the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

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    The Pact's engagements on various fronts gained media attention and made it possible to hold several strategic meetings.

    Over 50 📡

    organizations involved in Working Groups.

    At least 12 📰

    The "democracy defense manifesto" was featured in at least 12 nationally recognized media outlets.

    More than 15  📝

    strategic meetings with Ministers, Senators, Deputies, and presidents of representative institutions.

  • While our initiatives to protect the integrity of the elections were aimed at ensuring the normality of the process and involving organized civil society, as well as the main actors in the three branches of government, in the commitment to free elections, Pacto pela Democracia recognized that holding the elections was only the first stage of this process. It was also crucial to focus on Defending the Results, given the potential of right-wing and authoritarian extremist forces to undertake actions to contest the results of the electronic ballot boxes.