Brazil 2012

The first round of municipal elections were held in Brazil on October 7, 2012 with a runoff to be held on October 28, 2012. Mayors, deputy mayors and local councillors in all 5,568 municipalities in Brazil. Runoffs are held in direct mayoral elections where no candidate has won 50%+1 of the votes, but runoffs are only held in municipalities with over 200,000 voters. Municipal city councils (câmaras municipais) are elected through an open list system similar to that use for elections to the federal Chamber of Deputies.

Municipal elections in Brazil are the country’s “midterm elections”, they are the only elections held in between presidential elections and they are held halfway in the President’s four-year term. While on the surface the sheer amount of parties, contradictory coalitions from city to city and the vast array of personalities make the water fairly murky, and it is true that these elections are very personalized and that local political machines play a large role. However, these “midterm” local elections are nonetheless marked by complex political calculations which are tied to national and state politics. Their results have major repercussions on national and state politics, for example playing a role in boosting (or weakening) the standings of potential presidential candidates and informing the ever changing game of Brazilian coalition politics at the federal level.

It has been two years since Dilma Rousseff was elected President in 2010, riding the popularity of her predecessor and mentor, Lula. A year and nine months down the road, Dilma maintains very strong approval ratings (with less than 10% judging her performance to be downright bad, and nearly 60% judging it to be excellent or good). Economic growth remains fairly strong, but slowed down to 2.7% in 2011 and is projected to grow by only 1.5% this year. Slower economic growth has forced the government to be surprisingly defiant to the demands of federal government employees, including teachers and federal police, who had been on strike since earlier this year demanding higher salary increases (they were granted an inflation-only offer of 15.8% over three years). This is surprising coming from a party, the PT, whose roots lay in the unions, but Dilma has continued to move the PT away from its historical socialist roots towards third-way politics.

She has favoured private sector growth and promised to reduce the high cost of doing business in Brazil, for example by extending payroll-tax cuts to more industries or cutting the very high electricity tariffs in the country. While  Dilma and the PT remain instinctively hostile to privatization, she has made it clear that she supports more private investment in infrastructure. The government has already auctioned off contracts to run three airports, and it plans to auction road and railway concessions to the private sector to invite investors to build, upgrade and operate toll roads and railways.

The entire Brazilian political class has been rocked by some major corruption cases in recent months, most significantly the big Cachoeira scandal (Carlinhos Cachoeira is a businessman behind a big gambling racket, currently investigated for money laundering and running an illegal gambling network), which has implicated a number of senators, federal deputies and two governors. The impact of the Cachoeira scandal has been felt across party lines, but it has mainly hurt the opposition: a prominent opposition senator, Demóstenes Torres (DEM-GO), is one of the major politicians cited in the case, as is the embattled PSDB governor of Goiás, Marconi Perillo.

However, corruption cases have not left the government unscathed. Dilma’s cabinet has had lots of turnover in recent months, as she was forced to fire one cabinet minister after another as they got knee-deep into various cases of corruption, graft, influence-peddling, bribery or misuse of public funds. Some of those cabinet ministers, such as her former Chief of Staff Antonio Palocci (PT-SP), had been close allies of her predecessor and mentor, Lula. Others had been members of her venal allies, who have discovered the political (and financial) value of getting their own ministries. With various corruption cases, she lost her transportation minister Alfredo Nascimento (PR-AM), the agriculture minister Wagner Rossi (PMDB-SP), tourism minister Pedro Novais (PMDB-MA), sports minister Orlando Silva (PCdoB-BA), labour minister Carlos Lupi (PDT-RJ) and cities minister Mário Negromonte (PP-BA). Dilma’s tough stance against corrupt ministers in her entourage has allowed her to score points with public opinion, and it has allowed her to slowly but surely lay her personal mark on the government and differentiate it from Lula.

However, the PT is likely worried about what effects the current Supreme Court case surrounding the old mensalão scandal from 2005 (when the PT bribed congressional partners for their votes) could have on them. It apparently tried to push back the case until after the local elections; it came out that Lula had tried to blackmail a judge – Gilmar Mendes – by threatening to reveal Mendes’ links to the Cachoeira scheme. Just a few days ago, the court found Lula’s former Chief of Staff José Dirceu and former PT president José Genoino guilty on counts of bribery in the mensalão, though their sentences will not come down until later. This landmark case, among others, will at least contribute to breaking the culture of impunity which has permeated the Brazilian political elite for so long. It is unlikely to hurt or help any particular party; no major Brazilian party has a clean record, and voters recognize this.

Brazilian party and coalition politics is very complex business. Party loyalty is very weak, what matters are personalities and their individual ambitions. Nonetheless, even if most parties are venal self-interested actors with no ideologies, a few parties are major players in their own right. The Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB), the ultimate big tent party which seeks only to maximize its power, is a key ally of the Dilma government but some local and state bigwigs are showing their discontent with the federal government and their coalition with the PT. Another smaller venal ally of the government, the Republic Party (PR) broke away from the government shortly after Nascimento was dumped and joined the ranks of the opposition.

The Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), led by the very popular and ambitious governor of Pernambuco Eduardo Campos, is quite tired of being the second fiddle to the PT and is slowly drifting away from the PT and turning into more of a traditional big tent, ideologically diverse or undefined party. Eduardo Campos is a potential candidate for President in 2014 or 2018.

The opposition is also being moved around. The traditional party of the centre-right, the PSDB, risks losing even more feathers as it continues to be unable to renew itself and move past its old leadership disputes. However, its main ally, the Democrats (the former PFL, the remnants of the conservative pork-barreling party of the old military dictatorship), are collapsing even more rapidly. The big news in Brazilian politics in 2011 was the maverick DEM mayor of São Paulo, Gilberto Kassab, splitting off to form his own party, the Social Democratic Party (PSD), which positions itself slightly to the left of the DEMs, closer to the centre and to the Dilma government (while not being a ‘government party’). The PSD has attracted a good number of defectors from the DEMs (but also other parties) and it has grown to 47 federal deputies, much more than the DEMs (left with 28). These defections have left the Democrats virtually on life support.

Municipal elections

The table below gives the number of mayors elected by party in the first round, compared to the 2008 municipal elections (first round); as well as the number of councillors.

PMDB 1,018 mayors (-175) and 7,963 councillors (-512)
PSDB 692 mayors (-95) and 5,255 councillors (-641)
PT 627 mayors (+77) and 5,181 councillors (+1,013)
PSD 495 mayors (+495) and 4,662 councillors (+4,662)
PP 466 mayors (-83) and 4,932 councillors (-197)
PSB 434 mayors (+126) and 3,555 councillors (+599)
PDT 309 mayors (-42) and 3,660 councillors (+135)
PTB 295 mayors (-115) and 3,571 councillors (-363)
DEM 276 mayors (-219) and 3,272 councillors (-1,529)
PR 273 mayors (-111) and 3,190 councillors (-344)
PPS 120 mayors (-9) and 1,861 councillors (-298)
PV 96 mayors (+21) and 1,584 councillors (+347)
PSC 83 mayors (+26) and 1,468 councillors (+322)
PRB 77 mayors (+23) and 1,204 councillors (+423)
PCdoB 53 mayors (+12) and 976 councillors (+364)
PMN 42 mayors (+1) and 605 councillors (+15)
PTdoB 26 mayors (+18) and 534 councillors (+205)
PRP 24 mayors (+6) and 581 councillors (+177)
PSL 23 mayors (+8) and 761 councillors (+241)
PTC 18 mayors (+5) and 484 councillors (+153)
PHS 17 mayors (+4) and 544 councillors (+193)
PRTB 16 mayors (+5) and 418 councillors (+157)
PPL 12 mayors (+12) and 176 councillors (+176)
PTN 12 mayors (-4) and 429 councillors (+29)
PSDC 9 mayors (+1) and 446 councillors (+95)
PSOL/PCB/PSTU 1 mayor (+1) and 56 councillors (+16) incl. 49 PSOL, 5 PCB, 2 PSTU
Others 240 mayors (-2)

The results did not indicate any major changes, besides a strengthening of the PT and the success of both the PSD and the PSB. The PT’s gains seem heaviest in small and medium-sized towns, with the clear influence of some strong state governments (notably Bahia) helping the PT to create a strong base at the municipal level. The results of the other parties reveal the importance of state governments as well; the PSD was rather strong in Santa Catarina because of governor Raimundo Colombo (former DEM, now PSD), the PSDB performed well in its historical base of São Paulo but also Minas Gerais, Paraná or Pará where they control the governorship and the PSB clearly dominates in Pernambuco and is in a strong position in the Northeast as a whole (notably Piauí, where it now controls the state government).

The Democrats were obliterated, the creation of the PSD sorely hurt them in Santa Catarina, Bahia but also Minas Gerais and São Paulo. At it currently stands, the DEMs are basically on life support and their continued existence as an independent political party is called into question. Would they be better off merging with the PSDB to create larger centre-right opposition party?

The PMDB, by and large, remained predominant in a lot of towns throughout the country and by coalitions and alliances it will probably partake in the governance of over half – if not more – of Brazilian municipalities. The loss of state government in Paraná and its disaffiliation with the PT machine in Bahia resulted in significant loses for the party in those states, but it made major gains in São Paulo.

São Paulo

São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and economic capital, is the big prize in all municipal elections – especially this year. Being mayor of São Paulo has often been a trampoline to seek higher office, such as the state’s governorship or the presidency. Politically, as a predominantly white and middle-class business city, São Paulo has leaned to the right – centre-right opposition candidate José Serra won 54% in São Paulo in the 2010 runoff against Dilma.

The incumbent mayor of São Paulo since 2006 is Gilberto Kassab (PSD, ex-DEM). Kassab is retiring this year, but there are rumours that he is eyeing a run for governor in 2014 – even though governor Alckmin (PSDB) is quite popular.

The first mayor directly elected after the restoration of direct elections and multiparty democracy was none other than former President Jânio Quadros (who served as president a few months in 1961 before suddenly resigning, probably on a drunken fit), a literally insane populist clown figure. In that 1985 election, Quadros defeated Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a prominent academic who would later become President, after a campaign during which Quadros described FHC as a “pot-smoking atheist” and alleged that Cardoso would force the inclusion of marijuana into school lunches.

Following Quadros’ uneventful term, he was succeeded by Luiza Erudina of the PT – the PT had been founded in the city’s industrial hinterland (the ABC cities). She was succeeded in 1992 by former military-era appointed mayor and later governor Paulo Maluf, a corrupt conservative populist and one of Brazil’s most controversial political figures (he is currently on Interpol’s wanted list, for money-laundering and other accusations in the US). His right-hand man Celso Pitta replaced him in 1996. Seeking to return to office in 2000, Maluf was defeated by the PT’s Marta Suplicy in the runoff with over 58% for Suplicy. However, she was defeated in her reelection bid by PSDB candidate José Serra (the 2002 PSDB presidential candidate and former health minister), who won 55% in the runoff. Serra stepped down in 2006 in order to run for governor that same year, he was succeeded by his deputy mayor, Gilberto Kassab, who won a full term in his own right in 2008 with over 60% of the vote. This year, Kassab leaves office with mediocre approval ratings.

The PSDB candidate this year was José Serra – former mayor, governor and unsuccessful presidential candidate in 2002 and 2010. Serra had originally said that he would not run, but a few months later he backtracked on his statement and won a PSDB primary against two rivals, including an ally of the state governor, Geraldo Alckmin. Serra would like to run for president for a third time in 2014, but few in his party are keen on that terrible idea, first and foremost governor Alckmin and Senator Aécio Neves, the current PSDB favourite for 2014. Serra, however, can still count on the strong backing of his friend and ally Kassab, and his party (the PSD).

The PT has a long history in the state and city of São Paulo but has had limited success at both the state and municipal level in recent years. The field of potential PT candidates included former mayor and current senator Marta Suplicy, her ex-husband senator Eduardo Suplicy, science minister Aloizio Mercadante and education minister Fernando Haddad.

Since 2011, former President Lula has become the de facto leader of the party and its top power broker. While there have been no public disagreements between Lula and his protégé, Dilma, some have wondered if Lula could run for president again in 2014. In São Paulo, fully utilizing his power at the unofficial party boss, Lula moved to sideline Marta Suplicy and others in favour of education minister Fernando Haddad, who he felt could have a stronger appeal to middle-class voters (unlike Suplicy, whose base lies with poorer voters in the city’s outskirts). Haddad was very much promoted as Lula’s candidate, and Dilma publicly campaigned for him only very late in the campaign.

Haddad’s candidacy ran into problems when Interpol Most Wanted (and former mayor) Paulo Maluf and his party (the PP) endorsed Haddad. This embarrassing alliance with the arch-corrupt party boss led Haddad’s original ‘running mate’, former mayor Luiza Erudina (now affiliated with the PSB) to step down.

However, the frontrunner during a good part of the campaign – and especially for the final stretch – was Celso Russomano, a former federal deputy and popular consumers advocate. Russomano is now a member of the small Brazilian Republican Party (PRB), a non-ideological party closely linked to the evangelical United Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG).

Russomano ran a populist campaign, especially popular with poorer, traditionally petista voters but also middle-class voters tired of the PSDB/PT back and forths in the city. He took the lead from Serra in late August and led by a solid margin until the end of September, when an onslaught from Serra and Haddad brought him back down. The last polls showed a three way tie. Serra’s candidacy was dogged by how he had ended his first stint as mayor: after being elected by saying that he would serve out the full four years, he quit 15 months in to run for governor. There is that underlying ‘fear’ that he might run for something else if he won.

Other candidates included Gabriel Chalita (PMDB), an ally of governor Alckmin and a close Serra ally, Soninha (PPS), who ran a social liberal campaign.

José Serra (PSDB) 30.75%
Fernando Haddad (PT) 28.98%
Celso Russomano (PRB) 21.6%
Gabriel Chalita (PMDB) 13.6%
Soninha (PPS) 2.65%
Others 2.41%

A map of the results is available here. The results of the first round were very surprising, with Serra and Haddad both doing well (especially Haddad) and qualifying for the runoff while Russomano placed a paltry distant third with only 22%. There was a really last minute shift away from Russomano, due to a variety of factors including revelation of personal scandals and questions about his links to the UCKG. The last polls had shown that he had been shedding support from traditionally petista lower-income voters but also middle-class voters, the bleeding continued into election day. The map shows that Russomano got the bulk of his support in the lower-income/working-class peripheral neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, where the PT is strongest, though he did do fairly well in some more middle-class areas in the north of the city where the PT is weaker.

Fernando Haddad’s remarkable result is a success for his top backer, Lula. He started out running at 3% in the polls (like Dilma in 2009/early 2010) but has ended up qualifying for the runoff. In the runoff, furthermore, he is the favourite. Two polls have already shown him up by 10 over Serra, and he has the backing of Gabriel Chalita (even if the SP PMDB is right-wing, Chalita dislikes Serra) and will probably win most of Russomano’s voters. Serra has high negative ratings, and he is a poor candidate. He is more and more a tired politician who doesn’t seem to understand when to stop. He will try to use the mensalão scandal and some anti-homophobia school kit against Haddad, but for the moment it looks as if the PT could win an historic victory in the city.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio, Brazil’s other big city and host of the 2016 Olympics, did not have a very contested race this year. In 2008, the PMDB’s Eduardo Paes had won a very narrow victory against the Green Party’s Fernando Gabeira, replacing term-limited DEM incumbent Cesar Maia (who served as mayor between 1993 and 1997 and 2001 and 2009). Paes has been a very popular mayor, in part due to the 2016 Olympics and 2014 FIFA World Cup, which has boosted investment and economic development in the city. He ran for reelection, benefiting from the backing of the PT. His two main opponents were state deputy Marcelo Freixo (PSOL), a prominent opponent of the drug cartels and federal deputy Rodrigo Maia (DEM), the son of Cesar Maia (who failed to win a senate seat in 2010 and was running for city council this year).

Eduardo Paes (PMDB) 64.6%
Marcelo Freixo (PSOL) 28.15%
Rodrigo Maia (DEM) 2.94%
Otavio Leite (PSDB) 2.47%
Others 1.84%

A map of the results is available here. Paes won reelection by the first round in a landslide, and while Freixo did relatively decently, Rodrigo Maia (and what he represented as the scion of a prominent local political dynasty) was utterly humiliated. The map is fairly interesting, especially in relation to Marcelo Freixo’s support. Freixo is a state deputy for the small far-left PSOL, formed by PT dissidents during Lula’s first term, and he has built his political career on a courageous crusade against the powerful drug cartels which remain powerful in many favelas in the city. Ironically, however, Freixo received his strongest support in the city’s upper middle-class coastal and central neighborhoods (Botafogo but also the emblematic Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Gávea), usually right-leaning areas. His crusade against the drug cartels has made him the favourite of a good part of the city’s upper middle-classes, but did poorly in the lower-income northern neighborhoods.

Other Cities

In Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais), the incumbent PSB mayor Márcio Lacerda, elected in 2008 with left-wing support, was reelected this year with right-wing support (the PSDB, DEMs and PSD notably). He won 52.69% against 40.8% for former cabinet minister Patrus Ananias (PT). Lacerda has always been a close ally of PSDB senator Aécio Neves, the former governor (until 2010) and likely presidential candidate in 2014. Hence, Lacerda’s victory is a major boost for Aécio’s presidential ambitions but is also good news for another potential 2014 candidate, governor Eduardo Campos (PSB-PE).

In Salvador (Bahia), the fight to replace term-limited unpopular incumbent João Henrique (PP) is going to be very close between federal deputy ACM Neto (DEM) and Nelson Pelegrino (PT). ACM Neto, who is the grandson of the late Antonio Carlos Magalhães, a prominent conservative baron in Bahia, won 40.17% against 39.73% for Pelegrino. Former mayor Mário Kertész (PMDB) won 9.43% and Márcio Marinho (PRB) took 6.51%, and both candidates have endorsed Pelegrino (although some sections of the PMDB are backing ACM Neto). These results are fairly mediocre, in my eyes, for the PT, but its support has likely been hurt by the state government’s (led by PT governor Jaques Wagner) fight against two public sector strikes. The runoff will be closely fought, but Pelegrino probably has a tiny edge.

In Recife (Pernambuco), incumbent mayor João da Costa (PT) was retiring (pressured into doing so), leaving the field wide open for the very popular state governor, Eduardo Campos (PSB) to anoint his candidate. He did so, in the form of little-known Geraldo Júlio (PSB, allied, amusingly, with the PMDB). Geraldo Júlio started out with 5% in July, but the support from the governor and the state government propelled him into the lead, ahead of Senator Humberto Costa (PT) and former governor Mendonça Filho (DEM). Júlio won 51.15%, against 27.65% for Daniel Coelho (PSDB) ans 17.43% for Humberto Costa (PT). In yet another blow to the influence of the formerly dominant Democrats/PFL, Mendonça Filho took only 2.25% of the vote. Júlio’s landslide is a major victory for Campos, an ambitious politician with his eyes on the presidency in 2014 or 2018.

Curitiba (Paraná) was quite interesting, and surprising. Mayor Beto Richa (PSDB) stepped down in 2010 to run for governor (he won), leaving Luciano Ducci (PSB – the local PSB is right-wing) in the mayor’s chair. Ducci, backed by the centre-right, was running for reelection, and seemed in a decent position to at least qualify for the second round. However, with 26.77%, he placed only a close third in the first round and is out of the runoff. The runoff will oppose Ratinho Jr. (PSC), the son of a popular talk show host and TV personality, who took 34.09% on a populist independent platform, and Gustavo Fruet (PDT), backed by the PT (Fruet had run for senate for the PSDB in 2010 but lost narrowly) who took 27.22%. Ratinho Jr is probably the favourite in the runoff. Mayor Ducci’s defeat is a major blow for the state governor, Beto Richa, who is nonetheless fairly popular, and Eduardo Campos.

In Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul), incumbent mayor José Fortunati (PDT, centre-right) won reelection with 65.22% against 17.76% for federal deputy Manuela d’Ávila (PCdoB) and 9.64% for Adão Villaverde (PT). Fortunati showed some signs of vulnerability earlier on, but through a shrewd campaign he strengthened his appeal to a large number of voters. Manuela, a prominent federal deputy and former student leader, was the de facto candidate of the left, given that Villaverde got only limited support from the national PT.

In Manaus (Amazonas), where mayor Amazonino Mendes (PDT) is retiring, the leader coming out of the first round is former senator Arthur Virgílio Neto (PSDB), who was defeated for reelection to the Senate in 2010. Surprisingly, he came out far ahead of the pack in the first round with 40.55% against 19.95% for Senator Vanessa Grazziotin (PCdoB), backed by the PT and the PMDB. Henrique Oliveira (PR) placed third with 16.46%, while former mayor Serafim Corrêa (PSB) won 11.64%.  Sabino Castelo Branco (PTB), a federal deputy and popular TV personality, won 7.3%. Grazziotin having been expected to have been stronger in the first round, the value of runoff polls which showed her narrowly ahead of Arthur Neto seem a bit off. However, it seems as if Dilma will campaign for her and that the PT is putting some attention into this race.

In Fortaleza (Ceará), incumbent mayor Luizianne Lins (PT) is term-limited. After the first round, Elmano de Freitas (PT), backed by the outgoing mayor, has 25.44% against 23.32% for the president of the state legislature, Roberto Cláudio (PSB), a close ally of governor Cid Gomes (PSB) and his brother Ciro Gomes (PSB). Heitor Ferrer (PDT), a state deputy, won 20.97% and former federal deputy Moroni Torgan (DEM) took a paltry 13.75%. The PSOL candidate somehow won 11.84%.

In Belém (Pará), incumbent mayor Duciomar Costa (PTB) is term-limited. This is another city where the runoff remains up in the air, after a close first round. Popular state deputy and former mayor Edmilson Rodrigues (PSOL) won 32.58% but federal deputy Zenaldo Countinho (PSDB) was close on his heels with 30.67% after receiving a late endorsement from governor Simão Jatene (PSDB). Jefferson Lima (PP), a radio personality, took 12.89% and federal deputy José Priante (PMDB) won 8.79%. The PT, whose candidate won 3.06%, is backing Edmilson. The PSOL, pushed by the candidacy of former senator Marinor Brito, also managed 4 seats on city council.

In Cuiabá (Mato Grosso), the very unpopular incumbent Chico Galindo (PTB) is retiring. Mauro Mendes (PSB), backed by “soy king” senator Blairo Maggi (PR) and senator Pedro Tasques (PDT), took 43.96% against 42.27% for Lúdio (PT), backed by the incumbent PMDB governor. The PSOL won 5.42% and the PSDB candidate won 4.59%. This race looks like a tossup, but a PSB victory here would be another strong result for the party.

Goiânia (Goiás) mayor Paulo Garcia (PT), in office since 2010, won a first term outright with 57.68% in the first round. Jovair Arantes (PTB), backed by the PSDB, took 14.25%. Ex-senator Demóstenes Torres (DEM-GO), before getting knee deep into the Cachoeira scandal, had indicated his intention to run for mayor here.

In Natal (Rio Grande do Norte), incumbent mayor Micarla de Sousa (PV) is extremely unpopular and is not running for reelection. The favourite is former mayor Carlos Eduardo Alves (PDT), who served right before Micarla (and Micarla was his deputy mayor), who took 40.42% in the first round. Carlos Eduardo is the nephew of former mayor, governor, senator and current cabinet minister Garibaldi Alves Filho (PMDB) and the nephew of former governor Aluísio Alves; his running mate is Wilma de Faria (PSB), a former governor and mayor. The clan was disunited, because PMDB’s house leader Henrique Eduardo Alves backed Hermano Moraes (PMDB), who placed second with 23.01%. Fernando Mineiro, a longtime PT activist, took 22.63% and federal deputy Rogério Marinho (PSDB) won 10.16%.

Teresina (Piauí) mayor Elmano Férrer (PTB), backed the PMDB, placed second in the first round with 33.14% against 38.77% for former mayor and state deputy Firmino Filho (PSDB). Former governor and incumbent senator Wellington Dias (PT) placed third with 14.18%, Beto Rego (PSB) won 10.69%.

The mayor of São Luis (Maranhão), João Castelo (PSDB), is in a tough race for a second term. With 30.60%, he trails Edivaldo Holanda Jr. (PTC) who won 36.44%. State deputy Eliziane Gama (PPS) won 13.81% while vice-governor Washington Oliveira (PT), the candidate of the Sarney clan, won only 11.02%.

In Campinas (São Paulo), Jonas Donizette (PSB, ex-PSDB), backed by the PSDB and the DEMs, is the big favourite in the state’s third largest city. He took 47.6% in the first round. The municipality has been rocked by scandals since 2011, which forced the PDT mayor and then his PT deputy to resign and left the president of the chamber, Pedro Serafim (PDT) in charge. The incumbent mayor, Pedro Serafim, was a distant third with 18.47% while economics prof Marcio Pochmann (PT) won 28.56%. In Ribeirão Preto (São Paulo), meanwhile, incumbent centrist mayor Dárcy Vera (PSD), supported by the PMDB and former cabinet minister Wagner Rossi (PMDB), is the favourite after winning 46.34% in the first round. The PSDB’s Darcy Nogueira took 30.38% while the PT, hurt by the stench of corruption surrounding former mayor Antonio Palocci won only 15.o6%. The PSD also has a strong chance in Florianópolis (Santa Catarina) where its candidate, state deputy César Souza Jr., backed by governor Raimundo Colombo (PSD) but also the PSDB and PSB, won 31.68% against 27.37% for Gean Loureiro (PMDB), the candidate backed by senator and former governor Luiz Henrique da Silveira (PMDB). The PCdoB-PT candidate won 25.03%, the PSOL took 14.42%. Senator Luiz Henrique da Silveira would also like to reconquer the state’s largest city, Joinville, the PMDB candidate placed second with 35.52% against 41.42% for the PSD. 

The PT and PSDB are also facing off directly in runoffs in Guarulhos (SP) where the PT is the big favourite and Rio Branco (Acre) where 2010 gubernatorial candidate Tião Bocalom (PSDB) is not far behind Marcus Alexandre (PT) with 43.9% against 48.3% for the petista backed by the Viana siblings (the PT governor and senator from the state).

The results of the second round will be closely followed in a lot of these cities and a few others (for more results, O Globo has them in a text format and Veja has a map) because of the regional and national implications they will carry for the main parties, their ambitious leaders and for the state of Brazil’s notoriously complex and unstable coalitions.

After the first round, two likely 2014 presidential candidates are strengthened. In Minas Gerais, Senator Aécio Neves got his candidate reelected in Belo Horizonte and the PSDB held up fairly well in his state, which would be a key swing state if Aécio is the tucano candidate. Governor Eduardo Campos (PSB-PE) was successful, especially with the phenomenal landslide for his candidate in Recife, and with his party’s strong showing in the whole of the Northeast. For now, the PSB governor of Pernambuco has reiterated that his party remains a supporter of Dilma’s government (where it has cabinet positions) and that it is too early to talk about 2014. But this election showed that the division between the PT and PSB, traditional partners for over 20 years, has grown quite deep as the PT pursues alliances for allegedly opportunistic and selfish reasons with other parties (firstly the PMDB) while the PSB is eager to mark its independence from the PT.

Eduardo Campos’ candidacy is still not a certainty, as there is a chance he might prefer to wait until 2018 where there is a chance that he could be endorsed by the PT. After all, Dilma is not dead in the water – far from it – she has strong approvals and it is unlikely that Lula would directly challenge her for the PT nomination (though if he did, he would be the favourite). Her policies have carried a particularly strong appeal to middle-classes which have traditionally been cooler towards the PT, and it is not clear if discontent on her left would express itself electorally. However, 2018 could be too late for Campos and he might see 2014 as an opportunity to build up his name and image ahead of a winning run in 2018, similar to what Ciro Gomes had tried to do in 1998 and 2002. On top of that, there are now rumours of a sort of “super-ticket” between Campos and Aécio for 2014, an idea which has been endorsed by FHC.

I hope that this post provided some interesting information and details about Brazil’s complex local politics to those interested.

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Posted on October 14, 2012, in Brazil, Regional and local elections, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi GLH, I know you can’t cover everything and so this is a long shot, but I was wondering whether you would be writing up the Czech regional and Senatorial elections that took place at the weekend?

  1. Pingback: Local elections galore: Brazil, Chile, Finland and Sicily 2012 « World Elections

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