Brazil to hold referendum on electoral reform within 70 days

BRASILIA, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's Supreme Electoral Court on Tuesday set a 70-day deadline for congress to plan and organize a referendum on political reforms proposed by President Dilma Rousseff.The court is the highest authority for constitutional issues and its rulings can't be appealed.

    Rousseff proposed a national referendum at a Monday meeting with Brazil's governors. Some legal experts questioned the legality of her move, arguing that political reforms should be decided by congress. Rousseff officially submitted the proposal to congress on Tuesday.

   The referendum proposal includes five issues in need of reform such as campaign financing, voting by district and an end to voting through secret ballot in congress.  The president came up with the proposal two weeks after nationwide protests. Protesters demanded better public services, less public spending and an end to corruption.

  The Supreme Electoral Court announced the deadline after its President Carmen Lucia met with the presidents of the 27 regional electoral courts.
   The court said the 70-day timeline is decided to allow the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate enough time for the approval of any proposed political reforms after the referendum is held.

   In Brazil, any changes to electoral laws must be in force a year before general elections, which is to be held on Oct. 5, 2014. Following the protests, Rousseff called for a direct consultation of the electorate, blaming congress for failing to act on political reforms that had been submitted to legislators in recent years.

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