Monthly Archives: October 2010

Election Preview: Côte d’Ivoire 2010

Key presidential elections will be held in Côte d’Ivoire on Sunday, October 31; more than ten years after the last presidential election in October 2000 and after only eight postponements. After a five-year civil war between 2002 and 2007 and a 2008 peace deal, these elections are considered key for the fragile country’s future.

Once the success story of West Africa and the gem of French West-Africa, Côte d’Ivoire declined into chaos starting in the late 1980s. Prior to that, the country had been kept prosperous and stable under the leadership of the old authoritarian President Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Houphouët-Boigny, scion of a well-off Baoulé family of coffee and cacao planters, became President following independence from France in 1960 and ruled until his death in 1993. Until 1990, the country was a single-party state ruled by Houphouët-Boigny’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI-RDA), a party which which was based in the Baoulé rural aristocracy of planters and the growing urban bourgeoisie; and the government led an eclectic economic policy based around agricultural exports (largely cacao and coffee) which until the 1980s led the country to become one of the continent’s most prosperous countries. However, dependence on agriculture led to a slow decline in the country’s wealth as cocoa prices decline in the late 80s; something which resulted in increased political and ethnic strife and finally to an opening towards democracy in 1990. Houphouët-Boigny died in 1993 and was replaced by a fellow Baoulé, Henri Konan Bédié. A corrupt and incompetent leader, Bédié’s policies led directly to the outbreak of civil war in 2002. His government became increasingly nationalistic, playing on the concept of Ivoirité, a concept which was soon corrupted into a nativist and xenophobic Baoulé nationalist concept. He was overthrown in a coup led by General Robert Guéï in 1999, who himself was defeated in the 2000 election by Laurent Gbagbo, an old left-leaning opponent of Houphouët-Boigny. In September 2002, the north of the country revolted and caused a civil war, which ended in 2007-2008 with a 2008 peace deal between Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro, who became his Prime Minister in a power-sharing deal.

Ethnicity and immigration have played a major role in recent Ivorian politics, especially since Houphouët-Boigny’s death in 1993. He had previously kept a lid on nationalistic rhetoric and ethnic conflict, and in fact he encouraged immigration from Burkina Faso and led a liberal policy which quickly granted the Ivorian nationality to Burkinabé immigrants in return for support for the PDCI. In addition to the conflicts caused by immigration – around 30% of the Ivorian population are immigrants of some kind – there are also important internal ethnic conflicts. Firstly, there exists an important divide between north and south. The north, largely Muslim, is covered by savanna and whose economy relies upon herding, cotton and other low-income crops, is much less developed than the south. The south, largely Christian, is covered by forests and its economy based around coffee and cacao have made it the centre of Ivorian economic and political life. Within the south, there exists another important divide between the Baoulé, a subgroup of the Akan linguistic family; and the Bété, a subgroup of the Kru family. Based in the southeast of the country, the Baoulé are the coffee and cacao planter elite and the political elite behind the Houphouët-Boigny regime and the PDCI. From their heart around the capital (and birthplace of Houphouët-Boigny) of Yamassoukro, they have expanded into the pioneer regions of the southwest to plant coffee and cacao. Here, they encountered the Bété, whose identity was carved around a feeling of exploitation by the Baoulé elite who came on their traditional lands as semi-colonialists. The Bété form the core base around Laurent Gbagbo and his party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI).

Other ethnic groups of importance include the Gio/Dan people in the west, a group which was the core group backing Robert Guéï in 2000; the largely Muslim Malinké, Dioula and Sénoufos groups of the north, groups which backed the rebels in the civil war and whose main leaders include Guillaume Soro and Alassane Ouattara, a former Prime Minister pushed aside by Bédié in 1993.

In 2000, in a sham election marked by 63% abstention and boycotts by both Ouattara and Bédié, Laurent Gbagbo defeated Robert Guéï with around 60% of the votes against 33% for Guéï. Outarra had been excluded because of a new constitution passed in 2000 which excluded foreign-born citizens (like Ouattara, technically born in Burkina Faso) from the presidency. Although low turnout and boycotts by the Muslim north and the Baoulé hide a lot of things, the electoral map showed a stark divide between the north which largely supported Guéï and the south which largely backed Gbagbo. A clear harbinger of things to come in 2002.

This year, there is a fascinating contest between the three main players in Ivorian politics since the late 80s. On one hand, incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo backed by the Bété; while on the other you have Henri Konan Bédié of the PDCI backed by the Baoulé and Alassane Ouattara of the Rally of the Republicans (RDR, an old splinter of the PDCI) backed by the Muslim north. Guillaume Soro, under the 2008 peace deals, cannot run and his New Forces have not officially backed anybody though a lot back fellow northerner Alassane Ouattara but many think that Gbagbo have worked out a secret deal whereby Soro backs Gbagbo this year, in return for Gbagbo’s backing for a potential Soro candidacy in 2015.

Laurent Gbagbo and his party are probably the first round favourites, but if he does not win outright by Sunday, a runoff will be held, a runoff in which the two other candidates have already announced that they would back each other and form a kind of united opposition front. It is not known which of Bédié and Ouattara will come out on top of the divided opposition, but Ouattara is the best candidate out of the two given that he is more likely to do well in his non-native region (the south) than Bédié would do in his non-native region (the north) given his past nationalist saber-rattling. It will be interesting to see a breakdown of the results by region and department.

Ontario municipal 2010

Municipal elections were held throughout Ontario on October 25. Though I don’t often cover municipal elections – especially nonpartisan ones – these ones are close to home and I can offer a decent analysis and rundown of the main races with some amount of detail. This year’s electoral contests in a lot of cities were tightly contested and featured some interesting contests.

Partisan and ideological affiliations are a pain to pin-down in these nonpartisan contests, because a partisan affiliation doesn’t mean much (for example, a Conservative can vote to the left of a Liberal, and even an NDPer can become a right-winger) and candidates campaign on issues like transit, nice parks, low taxes and accountability which are hard to pin-down ideologically.

In Toronto, incumbent mayor David Miller (close to the NDP) was retiring after being in office since 2003. He was rather unpopular and the city council was attacked for its tax and spending policies, something which opened the field for right-wing councillor Rob Ford, who has made racist comments in the past and could be considered Canada’s equivalent of a tea-bagger. Rob Ford seized on public discontent with high taxes and council’s spending to build a right-wing populist campaign. The centre and left was originally split, but in the end after two high-profile candidates (Rocco Rossi and Adam Giambrone) the two main other candidates were former MPP George Smitherman (a Liberal, and former deputy premier in the McGuinty cabinet) and councillor Joe Pantalone (NDP). Smitherman had a very hard time finding his voice in the campaign and botched his campaign, even if some people rallied to him late in the game to stop Rob Ford. Pantalone was endorsed by David Miller, but the incumbent is quite unpopular. Some people thought Smitherman could emerge late as the anti-Ford candidate and some polling showed that he had narrowed the gap, but in the end Rob Ford won, and not because of voter apathy: turnout was 53%.

Rob Ford 47.11%
George Smitherman 35.61%
Joe Pantalone 11.73%

I am not a specialist on the politics of Toronto City Council and other sources will tell you more, but there does not seem to have been a major shift to the right in the makeup of the new council. Here are a few key results of interest:

  • Rob Ford’s brother Doug Ford has held his brother’s seat in north Etobicoke.
  • Vincent Crisanti, a populist Ford conservative also picked up north Etobicoke’s other seat from a centrist incumbent.
  • Giorgio Mammoliti, a former NDPer but who has transformed into a somewhat insane populist right-winger in York West was reelected, but only with 43.8% because he faced a billion other candidates.
  • In the other York West ward, the perennial bloody contest between NDP incumbent Anthony Peruzza and former Liberal incumbent Peter Li Preti was won by Peruzza with 41.5% against 38.4% for his enemy.
  • In Parkdale-High Park, vaguely left-leaning Sarah Doucette knocked off right-wing Liberal Bill Saundercook by a big margin of around 10 points.
  • An interesting contest in an open seat in Davenport between Liberal Ana Bailão, NDPer Kevin Beaulieu and former Green Party leader Frank de Jong was won by Bailão with 43.75% against 34.23% for Beaulieu, while de Jong took a mere 6.06%.
  • Jack Layton’s son, Mike Layton, won Joe Pantalone’s open seat in Trinity-Spadina with 45.39% against 20.93% for another NDPer, Karen Sun. A more right-wing Liberal candidate, Sean McCormick took 18.16%.
  • Surprisingly, in Don Valley West, incumbent Conservative Cliff Jenkins was defeated by Jaye Robinson, who seems to be centre-right (but probably is a Liberal) as well, which isn’t a surprise in the city’s most affluent ward.
  • NDP candidate very narrowly leading in Toronto Centre, where Smitherman’s aide was expected to pick up this open seat.
  • In Beaches-East York, Mary-Margaret McMahon (who is probably right-wing) has defeated NDP incumbent Sandra Bussin by a crushing margin, taking over 65% of the vote.
  • A number of incumbents who were thought to be safe either lost or came very close to doing so, indicating an anti-incumbent mood of some sort in some areas.

In Ottawa, incumbent mayor Larry O’Brien (a Conservative) was running for re-election after winning his first term in 2006 by a sizeable margin and on record turnout. O’Brien’s popularity dwindled as a result of council’s inefficiency at doing anything, a 3-month transit strike which was badly handled by the city and the federal government, and finally a corruption case in which he was alleged to have bribed a potential mayoral candidate in 2006 to drop out. He was cleared of any wrongdoing, but he still suffered considerably from having to go to court while being in office. He was challenged by former mayor and Liberal MPP Jim Watson, an ally of Premier McGuinty; and also by two smaller candidates: councillor Clive Doucet (NDP) and former regional chair Andy Haydon (Conservative). O’Brien’s campaign was very negative on Watson, but he never had much of a chance against a popular former mayor and MPP who started his campaign very early. Andy Haydon, running to the right of O’Brien on a platform designed around opposition to light-rail, also didn’t help much. Voters generally wanted change, accountability and efficiency; something which Watson could deliver without being seen as an inexperienced novice. That being said, some have noted that since Watson supports O’Brien’s two main projects: light rail and Lansdowne Park revitalization, not much is likely to change in those areas. Turnout was around 44%, high but not as high as the record set in 2006. Here are the results:

Jim Watson 48.70%
Larry O’Brien (inc) 24.06%
Clive Doucet 14.89%
Andy Haydon 7.01%
Mike Maguire 2.45%

Turnover was rather high on the city council, a good indicator that a fair share of councillors aren’t as popular as they used to be. Incumbents haven’t lost in Ottawa since 2000 or so, but this time six of them went down to defeat. Here’s a rundown of the interesting contests:

  • In Bay Ward, incumbent councillor Alex Cullen (NDP), former mayoral contender, was defeated by Mark Taylor (Liberal), who took 37.8% to Cullen’s 30.3%. Terry Kilrea, a right-winger, who ran for mayor in 2003 (and was allegedly bribed out of doing so in 2006 by Larry), took a paltry 8.2% and finished fourth behind George Guirguis.
  • An open seat in Knoxdale-Merivale was won by Keith Egli, who seems centrist/centre-left, with 32.7%. The three other main candidates were far behind, with James O’Grady (Liberal) taking 19.3%, Rod Vanier (Liberal) taking 17.5% and right-winger James Dean with 15.8%
  • In Beacon Hill-Cyrville, incumbent councillor Michel Bellemare, who seems rather centre-left was narrowly defeated by 181 votes by Tim Tierney, a right-wing Liberal. A strong margin for Tierney in well-off Anglo suburban Beacon Hill likely helped him pull off this narrow win.
  • In the downtown ward of Rideau-Vanier, incumbent councillor Georges Bédard (left-wing Liberal) was very narrowly defeated by a young university graduate, Mathieu Fleury, who seems progressive as well. Fleury took 45.69% over Bédard’s 44.84%, a margin of only 88 votes. Perhaps Fleury’s Facebook-Twitter oriented campaign helped him in a ward which includes the University of Ottawa.
  • An open seat in Rideau-Rockcliffe was won by right-winger Peter Clark, who took 25.8%. The other candidates were also varying shades of centre-right or right, with Maurice Lamirande placing second with 17.4%. The most left-wing candidate, Sheila Perry, took 16.2% while Bruce Poulin, a former provincial PC candidate in 2007, took 16.1%.
  • Kitchissippi ward councillor Christine Leadman, a centrist or centre-leftist, narrowly lost taking 40% to Katherine Hobbs’ 44.2%. Katherine Hobbs seems to be more right-wing than the outgoing incumbent, though in municipal politics where everybody wants low taxes, it’s hard to say.
  • Another open seat in Capital, Clive Doucet’s old ward. David Chernushenko (Green) won easily in the end, with 41.3% against 19.5% for Liberal Isabel Metcalfe. Bob Brocklebank (NDP) took third with 17.1%
  • In Cumberland, Red Tory incumbent Rob Jellett was defeated by Stephen Blais, who seems to be a moderate and has been endorsed by Liberals and Tories alike. Blais took 52.4% to Jellett’s 43.5%.
  • In Rideau-Goulbourn, a rural ward, an old name in rural conservative politics, councillor Glenn Brooks was easily defeated. His main opponent, Scott Moffatt, who seems to be more left-wing than Brooks (such a thing is easy) and is pro-amalgamation took 52.6% to the incumbent’s 26.5%. A left-wing candidate, Bruce Webster, took 12.3%
  • The open seat in Kanata-South was taken by centre-right candidate Allan Hubley who won 48.8%. Aaron Helleman (NDP), supported by 2006 mayoral candidate and Kanata’s favourite sun, Alex Munter (also NDP), took 36.4%.

The overall shape of the new council has been described as being slightly centre-right, sort of Red Tory or blue Liberal, which should be generally favourable to Jim Watson. Watson’s proposal to cut council from 23 seats to 14-17 seats, however, probably won’t work given that incumbents don’t tend to vote in favour of abolishing their own seats.

In other races across Ontario, a few incumbents went down to defeat. Hamilton‘s mayoral contest, scheduled to be a rematch of the 2006 contest between Red Tory incumbent Fred Eisenberger – who was endorsed by NDP MP (and former mayor) David Christopherson in 2006 – and former mayor right-wing Liberal Larry Di Ianni on the other hand was hijacked by Bob Bratina (NDP?) running to the left of both. Bratina won easily with 37.3% against 28.4% for Di Ianni and 27.4% for Eisenberger. In London, incumbent mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best (in office since 2000) lost a rematch against former right-wing Liberal MP Joe Fontana (described by some as a teabagger) who won 47.2% against 44.8% for the incumbent. In hilarious Mississauga, 89-year old incumbent Hazel McCallion (in office since 1978) won ‘only’ 76.4%. In Greater Sudbury, NDP incumbent John Rodriguez lost to right-winger Marianne Matichuk, also described as a teabagger, who won 46.1% to the incumbent’s 36.5%. Finally, in Vaughan former Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua defeated corrupt incumbent Linda Jackson and former Liberal MPP Mario Racco. Bevilacqua took 64.2% against 14.5% for the incumbent and 14.4% for Racco.

An electoral revolution: the political evolution of Brazil’s Nordeste

Changes in a region’s voting patterns and overall political mood are often spread out over a long period of time, rarely happening overnight in one election. Possibly, the electoral evolution of the Northeast Region, or Nordeste, of Brazil, is an exception. The traditional image of the Northeast being a backwards region dominated by powerful landlords who oppressed a large and poor peasantry has changed considerably, though that, of course, did not come overnight. The change in voting patterns, however, have changed rather drastically in a short period of time.

The Nordeste was the centre of Portuguese Brazil’s colonial economy and was the colony’s wealthiest region – by far- until at least the mid-nineteenth century. Helped by a favourable location and climate, the (coastal) Nordeste’s economy grew, lived and prospered thanks to sugar cane. The need for manual labour on huge sugar plantations especially after the quasi-extermination of the Tupi natives (who were also inadequate for the task) led to the largest slave trade in the western hemisphere. Most African slaves sent to work in the Americas were sent to Brazil, a fact which contributes to the Nordeste’s cultural and racial diversity. As coffee gradually replaced sugar as Brazil’s main export, the Nordeste suffered a quasi-constant decline and degeneration which has, over time, transformed a region which was once the country’s wealthiest into the country’s poorest.

To understand the region’s politics and societal structure, one must first understand the vegetation and precipitation patterns of the region. Basically, the Northeast is divided into three geographical regions (there are actually four, but nobody cares about the fourth). The first is the zona da mata, a wet and green region which forms a long, thin and narrow strip along the Atlantic coastline. This region actually used to be covered by thick rainforest similar to the Amazon, though it was all wiped out by the Portuguese who established sugar cane plantations all along the coast. Sugar cane was and is produced on large estates called engenhos, who were led by wealthy sugar barons who maintained tremendous political influence. After the green zona da mata, another – inland this time – long and thin strip is formed by the agreste, a kind of transitional region between the wet green coastline and the dry dusty interior. Already in the agreste, rainfall is much scarcer and the landscape is much less green. Small agriculture is dominant here. Further inland lies the vast, semi-arid and dustier sertão, the most well-known of the three geographical regions. Prone to long droughts, the sertão is generally unfertile and most agriculture is based around cattle herding. Most herding used to be done on huge estates, the well-known latifundios, led by landowners who dominated a large, poor peasantry. Drought, poverty and lack of income encouraged a massive migration from the dirt poor sertão to major cities of southeastern Brazil.

Slavery and its legacy, as well as a tradition of hegemonic control, unsurprisingly engendered poverty, oppression and an oligarchic paternalist society. Wielding much political and economic power, oligarchs and landowners controlled the economic and political life of their turf, a system which became known in Brazil (and elsewhere) as coronelismo, whereby a local oligarch (a ‘colonel’) controlled a tightly regimented society and delivered their votes en masse to the highest bidder. This power, which came as a result of their wealth and dynastic status, conferred them with considerable power. Their support for the republic in 1889 played a crucial role in its establishment and survival. The system of coronelismo was quasi-universal in Brazil during the café com leite Republic (1889-1930) and continued unfettered in rural areas throughout the country until the 1980s (in some cases, to this day). However, even in the Northeast, the influence and field of action of these bosses was quickly confined to rural areas (where a great majority of the population still lived) while wealthier urban areas became holdouts of organized urban labour or a progressive educated elite. Recife, after all, was a stronghold of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) which polled over 15% in Pernambuco in 1945 and 1947 (industrialist backing of the PCB also explains that in parts).

It is important to note some important things about these ‘colonels’, oligarchs and political bosses which literature on Brazilian history refer to. There is sometimes the image of these men all being the same and favouring the same thing. While it is true, certainly, that most of them largely supported a conservative, elitist (or oligarchic) society which paid little attention to the plight of rural workers or to land reform; some bosses were more progressive than others and some were more nationalistic than others. For example, the elite in Pernambuco was much more progressive than the elite in, say, Bahia or Alagoas. Certain members of the elite had nationalist leanings, and some – I dare say – were somewhat progressive! Not all members of the elite were bad, some did some good for their region, notably by encouraging industrialization. Lastly, a fundamental aspect of the elite was that it was still very much flexible – within the confines of the status-quo – and had no exclusive ties to any political party. During the 1945-1964 era, for example, while the conservative UDN was often noted as the party of the old Northeastern elites, and, true enough, the region was consistently the UDN’s strongest, the local PSD and even PTB were very much dominated by the local elites as well.

It might be surprising to some that even with the advent of the secret ballot and apparent democracy in 1945 that the elites could still hold the power they held. As in much of South America, their power was largely hegemonic, indicating some sort of consent from the base. These political bosses still commanded peasants and through veiled threats of losing their jobs, shelter and source of sparse income they could easily control their voting habits.

Getúlio Vargas’s policies were only aimed at organizing urban labour and using the urban working-class as a base of political power similarly to how the old conservatives used Northeastern peasants as their base of political power. Vargas, himself a landowner (though in a society almost a world apart from that of the Northeast) had no interest in organizing the rural workers or disturbing the conservative status-quo in the vast swathes of the Nordeste. Vargas was never a true left-winger, let alone a radical or a communist. Given the nationalist leanings of certain political bosses in the region, he was able to garner the loyalty of the powerful Northeastern elite; though the Getulist (or PTB) organizing was weaker in the Northeast than anywhere else.

The 1946 Constitution, which restricted franchise to literate voters did much to ensure that the elite would not be disturbed by pesky dirt poor peasants. Encouraging literacy, something promoted both by the church and the government (after 1961), was thus seen as a danger by the elite. João Goulart’s 1963 push for ‘basic reforms’, most notable of which were agrarian and political reform, scared the elite more than a bit. Agrarian reform, of course, would break up the large latifundias which still dominated the sertão and break up the oligarch’s main source of power. Political reform, notably encouraging literacy and expanding franchise to illiterate voters, would transform Brazil into a mass democracy (throughout the 45-64 era, only 15-20% of the population actually voted) and would likely break up the power of the elite; because while the poor (and illiterate) peasantry was tightly controlled by the elites, they were also easy targets for nascent radical movements. What Goulart proposed Vargas would never have done, so the elite was shaken to its base by these reform. They had cared little, in the end, about Vargas’ shenanigans with the urban workers and his flirtation with left-wing nationalism because he didn’t dare disturb them. However, Goulart’s reforms endangered the system altogether. The Northeastern political elite was, therefore, entirely behind the 1964 coup which overthrew Goulart. While the support of the middle-classes and the legalist wing of the military for the coup was crucial, the support of the Northeastern elites undoubtedly played a great role. Conveniently, the 1964 coup and the subsequent decades of military dictatorship killed off the nascent radical political movements and stalled the question of land reform (as a political issue) for a long time.

In this context, the experience of Miguel Arraes in Pernambuco is perhaps of importance in highlighting what the political elite feared would happen. A democratic socialist supported by the PCB, Arraes narrowly won the governorship of Pernambuco in the 1962 elections, in an election which proved to be a major defeat for the ruling conservative elite. Certainly funding and monetary support from José Ermírio de Morais, a big (nationalist PTB) industrialist who was elected Senator the same day helped, but Arraes had been able to win by assembling a coalition uniting urban areas with sugar cane workers who were literate enough to vote. Perhaps Arraes would have been the beginning of the end for the elite if the military hadn’t turned back the clock.

The elite supported the military well until the end, at least until doing so stopped being a good strategy and when the military stopped providing the benefits it had done in the past. Master chameleons, the elite, or at least a good part of it, became, or so they claim, convinced democrats right around the time of the mass protests in favour of direct elections in 1984. Those who didn’t change colours then did so the following year, when the ruling majority’s nomination of Paulo Maluf, an unsavoury man, for the presidency alienated much of the regime’s Northeastern power brokers. These people split from the ruling PDS party and formed the Liberal Front Party (PFL) and promptly supported Tancredo Neves in the indirect 1985 election. For them, it couldn’t have been better given that Tancredo Neves (a fundamentally good man) tragically died right before taking office and José Sarney, one of these master chameleons, became President.

While urbanization, the growth of an independent media and higher literacy disturbed the elite by the 1980s, they still held much sway over the region. In the 1982 election, the pro-military and very conservative PDS swept the Northeast, taking nearly 67% of the vote against 43% nationally. That was a bit before the aforementioned change in colours, and in 1986 the old PDS (which was, by then, a far-right party) collapsed and the main fight in the region was between Sarney’s PMDB (which swept the country) and the PFL. The PFL’s ranks included well-known old conservative oligarchs who had supported the military and now played a key role in the new democratic regime; people such as Antônio Carlos Magalhães (ACM, the strongman of Bahia), Marco Maciel and José Agripino Maia. José Sarney himself, as far as I know, never joined the PFL (but at the same time played a major role in the creation of the party), but he also controlled the PFL organization in his home state of Maranhão. His daughter Roseana, for example, was a longtime member of the PFL (until they kicked her out). That being said, the PFL was not the only party for the old elite, and its support was not even throughout the region (in Ceará, the PSDB was dominant, for example). That being said, the PFL is best thought of as the main party of the elite.

Out of the vacuum on the right in 1989 emerged a political outsider and political novice, the young and flashy governor of Alagoas, Fernando Collor. Collor, whose father killed a fellow Senator and whose grandfather had been one of Vargas’ labour ministers, was the perfect representative for the elite. He was conservative, but also detached from the Sarney government in a way which allowed him to be the candidate of change. Collor was the symbol par excellence of the elite: conservative, dynastic and flexible within the system. After all, he had supported Sarney when it paid to do so, but broke all bridges with him when it was bad PR to do so. The darling of the right-wing media and the elite, Collor was the best candidate to take on the left, led by Lula and Leonel Brizola.

Collor defeated Lula with 53% in the runoff and took 55.7% in the Northeast (which was only his third-best region), but lost to Lula in the state of Pernambuco by a narrow margin of 50.9% to 49.1%. Lula had also done well in Bahia (48.3%), Rio Grande do Norte (47.4%) and Paraíba (45%), and his results certainly were a success for the PT which was extremely weak in the region. It did show that some peasants, formerly strictly regimented into political machines, rebelled in the isolation of the voting booth; but the bottom line was that the political bosses still held considerable sway, especially in rural areas. A better understanding of the nature of the election in the region is provided by a look at results in the context of municipalities.

Nordeste, 1989 election (runoff); source: Eleições em Dados

The map to the left reveals a quasi-perfect urban-rural divide, a divide which was seen throughout the country. Collor won the election almost solely on the power of the rural vote, getting obliterated by varying margins in the quasi-entirety of the country’s major urban centres (he may have won São Paulo narrowly). Maceió, AL is an exception to this rule; but Collor’s ownership of the state (and city) likely explains that. Certainly, however, in cities like Salvador, Recife or Fortaleza; Collor did very badly. Aside from the fact that Northeastern cities, which are far wealthier than the rural areas surrounding them, have been holdouts of urban labour or urban progressives against the ultra-conservative countryside; the urban centres were also the only one in 1989 to have had access to unbiased independent media sources which highlighted Collor’s shady side. His status as an old oligarch and his candidacy as one of the old right was certainly not an advantage in any urban centre, especially the most progressive ones like Recife, Salvador, Fortaleza or Rio.

There are various outspots of red in rural areas, likely explainable by a weak political machine in the specific region or an economy less reliant on agriculture and herding. The best example of such areas are in the São Francisco Valley, in towns such as Juazeiro, Petrolina and Petrolândia, where the economy revolves more around hydroelectricity and industry than around herding. But the main thing here is that the rural areas are varying shades of blue, more often that not darker shades of blue. Certainly Collor dominated in the vast majority of the herding-reliant sertão, which was the base of the political bosses of yesterday, more so than the coastal areas which were slightly less conservative.

Collor’s impeachment in 1992 didn’t end the power of the elite, which showed its flexibility in its relations with Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC). As a rather leftie sociologist and intellectual, FHC likely had little love for the elite and they barely hid their contempt for him. The Bahian baron of the PFL, Antônio Carlos Magalhães, criticized FHC’s anti-inflation Plano Real right at the outset. However, when the Plano Real proved to be a resounding success and Cardoso showed his interest in taking the top job in 1994, the elite widely acclaimed Cardoso as the candidate of the right and his running-mate, Marco Maciel (PFL-PE) gave from their ranks. Cardoso certainly wasn’t their natural choice, and probably not their preferred choice. But pragmatically, FHC was the Brazilian right’s only hope against Lula, who had been leading in all opinion polling until at least mid-summer 1994.

FHC defeated Lula on the back of the resoundingly successful Plano Collor by the first round, taking 54.3% nationally by the first round and 57.6% in the Northeast. Lula won 30.3% in the region, slightly more than what he got nationally and did well in Pernambuco (37%), Sergipe (36.9%), Bahia (35.2%) and Piauí (32%). Contrarily to Collor in 1989, FHC also performed very well in urban areas. Of the state capitals, all but one of which had been swept by Lula in 1989, FHC won five of them and Lula’s win in Salvador was not as massive as it had been in 1989. Certainly, FHC had a better image in urban areas than Collor did. Largely the same thing happened in 1998, though FHC did worse in the Northeast than nationally (47.7% vs. 53.1%) though not as much to Lula’s benefit (31.6% regionally vs. 31.7%) but to the benefit of Ceará’s favourite son Ciro Gomes who won 16% regionally and 11% nationally (and narrowly won his home-state, which was practically a 3-way tie).

Some will argue that 2002 represents the turning point in the Nordeste’s voting patterns, but I disagree. Certainly, Lula won big in the Northeast and that is not a small fact. He turned the region red, but at the same time he turned the quasi-entirety of the country red, even the wealthy, white conservative states of the south. Lula’s appeal in 2002 was broad, something which comes both from his campaign style and rhetoric, which was unusually moderate and ‘calm’ (gone, obviously, was the angry bearded Lula); and from FHC’s widespread unpopularity after a bad second term. That explains why the regional results in the runoff were all within 3-4% of the national result (61.3%). With 61.5% in the Northeast, it was hard to say then that the region was the key stronghold of the new left. What’s more, the only state which Lula lost was in the Northeast – Alagoas, the last holdout of the conservative elite; and a look at results by municipality reveals that you still had a fair number of random patches of conservative blue in the traditional rural strongholds of the elite.

Results of state-level results in 2002 also provide ample evidence that the realignment had not occurred by 2002. With the exception of Piauí where Wellington Dias (PT) defeated incumbent PFL governor Hugo Napoleão, the parties representing the old order held on in most states. In Pernambuco, Humberto Costa (PT) was badly defeated by right-winger Jarbas Vasconcelos (PMDB), while in Bahia Paulo Souto (PFL) easily defeated Jaques Wagner (PT). The candidates of the right, generally speaking, also performed well in the senatorial election. Thus, while Lula won big in the region even in 2002, an analysis of results both at a micro level and a downballot level provides evidence to claim that 2002 was not a realignment and the presidential results were merely part of the wave which swept Brazil.

Results of the 2010 presidential election by municipality (own work)

The realignment came in 2006, which was a defining election in terms of defining the effects of the first left-wing government in Brazil since the 1960s on the voting behaviours of Brazilians. In 2002, in the first round, Lula had done about as well in the Northeast than in Brazil (slightly worse, in fact). In 2006, he performed 18% better in the Northeast than in the country as a whole. In the runoff, that figure was 16%. Overall, he won 66.8% in the region by the first round and took a crushing 77.1% of the votes in the runoff. Just by those results, as well as his sheer domination – even by the first round – in most of the backwoods of the sertão, it was clear that a major realignment had taken place.

At the state level, unlike in 2002, the forces of the left did well. Of course in Bahia, Jaques Wagner unexpectedly defeated incumbent PFL Governor Paulo Souto by a ten-point margin in the first round. In Pernambuco, with the quasi-unanimous backing of Humberto Costa’s first round voters, Eduardo Campos (PSB, Arraes’ grandson) easily defeated governor José Mendonça Filho (PFL) in the runoff. In Ceará, Cid Gomes (PSB) defeated governor Lúcio Alcântara by a crushing 28-point margin in the first round. Finally, in Maranhão, governor Roseana Sarney (PFL) was narrowly defeated by Jackson Lago (PDT) in the runoff, a victory which, at the time, was considered a major blow to the Sarney clan, dominant in Maranhense politics.

The results of the first round of the 2010 election provided no indication that the 2006 result were an aberration. Quite to the contrary, it arguably showed, to some extent, an amplification of the 2006 realignment. With the notable exception of Rio Grande do Norte (which was caused by local conditions), big names on the old right went down to defeat badly. Tasso Jereissati, a dominant Cearan politician of the PSDB, was badly defeated running for what was thought to be easy re-election to the Senate. Marco Maciel, a key figure of the old PFL and a key symbol of the old conservative oligarchs who had supported the military, was badly defeated. César Borges, though allied with Lula, lost badly in Bahia; where Jaques Wagner won a landslide reelection over his 2002 and 2006 rival Paulo Souto. In Pernambuco, finally, Eduardo Campos (PSB) was reelected with one of the biggest margins in Brazilian political history, over a well-known politico (Jarbas) no less.

An amusing anecdote showing the new force of the left in the region is how even those on the right are attempting to place more emphasis on their relations with Lula than their relations with their party. A notable example is that of Teo Vilela Jr, the incumbent PSDB governor of Alagoas in a tough fight for reelection. Nothing on his website indicates his party, let alone his party’s presidential nominee, but instead had a nice article on how Lula had praised his work. He himself also had lots of nice things to say about Lula, all part of a strategy to confuse voters into thinking that he was Lula’s candidate, when technically he’s a member of the main opposition party to the President.

An analysis of the results of the 2010 elections by municipality shows the utter dominance of the left in the sertão. This is where the electoral realignment occurred and where it was most dramatic. In large swathes of the massive sertão, which covers most of the region’s interior, Dilma won well over 60% of the votes and in parts of Bahia, Pernambuco, Ceará, Piauí and Maranhão her results in the sertão were even well into the 70-80% range with a few municipalities (mostly small) giving her over 90% of the votes. Only eight years ago, a fair share of those had still given Serra a near majority of the votes. An interesting case study in the voting shifts at work in the sertão is the municipality of Caetés, Pernambuco. Caetés is the birthplace of Lula, and is a typical dirt poor village in the sertão. In 1994 and 1998, Lula lost the village by a big margin (FHC had even taken over 60% there in 1998). Dilma won 81% this year (Serra won 15%). In 2002, Lula had won 54% in the first round. Most of the littoral remains left-wing, though by somewhat smaller margins. Conversely, the left’s strength in the region’s urban centres (which are much more well-off than the rural areas) has abetted somewhat since the highs of 1989, a trend observed in a number of major urban centres throughout Brazil (ironically, Lula’s average voter in 1989 was probably wealthier than Collor’s). Marina Silva did very well in the region’s major cities this year, in line with her strong performances in well-educated and averagely well-off urban areas; though Serra did very poorly, though Marina likely took a lot of votes which otherwise would have gone to him. That being said, most urban centres, especially Salvador, remain staunchly left-wing; with the exception of places like Maceió and Aracaju.

How did such a realignment happen?

While the Northeast was demographically perfect ground for the left in any western democracy, like in most of Latin America the tight control of the population by an oligarchic elite kept the region safely in conservative hands for most of the twentieth century. The slow moves towards agrarian democracy and somewhat equitable land distribution as well as the gradual loss of power by the old elites through increased education, awareness, freedom and wealth undoubtedly played a major role in ending the power of the conservative dominant class. The increased literacy rate and educational level in the region are also exemplified by the massive collapse in invalid votes. Illiterates can vote since 1988 (though, unlike literate voters, they are not legally compelled to do so), and the vote is now done electronically (since 1994). Unsurprisingly, there is a definite correlation between illiteracy and a high percentage of blank votes. The percentage of invalid votes in the region has dwindled from roughly 30% in 1994 to slightly above 10% this year.

The PT was, at its foundation, a largely urban party based in urban, organized labour. While it did have a few bases of more rural support (notably in Acre), the party was especially weak in the rural Nordeste where it had no natural base with rural workers. It was only the experience of the left in power which allowed the party to build a solid base in the region, thanks to the social policies of the Lula government which are of great importance to the region. There is a very high positive correlation between votes for the left in a municipality and the number of Bolsa Família beneficiaries in said municipality. What Lula and the left has achieved is, in a way, the eternal and unrealized goal of most of the Latin American left: creating a durable alliance between urban and rural workers. That was what Goulart wanted to achieve in 1964, but he was far ahead of his day in that regard.

Some of this would probably not have happened without the flexibility and opportunism of the elite. The elite might have been conservative and downright horrible in most senses of the term, but they certainly weren’t inflexible or stubborn. Their flexibility within the confines of the established system allowed them to survive, and will allow some of them to survive in the future. Brazilian politicians, of course, are not known for their moral stature or their ideological consistency. Most don’t see an issue with supporting two ideologically opposed governments, and most choose their allies based on the amount of money they can offer them. A fair share of the formerly conservative elite thus realized that their new interests lay with Lula, and so they choose to support Lula even though they were all diehard opponents of his back in 1989. Notable Northeastern oligarchs who took this route include José Sarney (PMDB), who has become one of the President’s biggest allies; Fernando Collor (PTB); Renan Calheiros (PMDB); Roseana Sarney (PMDB), a former pefelista expelled for supporting Lula in 2006; Henrique Eduardo Alves (PMDB) and César Borges (PR). People like Garibaldi Alves Filho (and his father) can also be counted as allies, albeit less reliable than Sarney, of the left. Those who haven’t abandoned their right-wing roots, haven’t done so well. Marco Maciel and Tasso Jereissati are good examples. As corrupt and distasteful as they might be, the old elite still carry a lot of weight around with their family names and they are still able to bring pork back to their regions. They might not be doing so well as in the past, but the contemporary coronels who’ve understood where the advantages lie aren’t going to kick the bucket just yet.

Evolution of votes for the PFL in elections to the Chamber of Deputies since 1986

A telling story of the decline of the conservative oligarchy in the region is that of the PFL. While not representative of the entire ruling elite, which was spread out over a whole slew of parties, the PFL is the most representative of the old elite and is intimately linked to conservative oligarchs who allied with the military in 1964, supported it until it became the bad thing to do and quickly converted themselves into convinced democrats, or so they claim. For any right-wing candidate, the support of the PFL was crucial. FHC understood that in 1994 and 1998, and thus accepted an alliance with them, even though it kind of went against everything he stood for as a progressive intellectual opponent of the military regime. The PFL controlled a near majority of governorships and senate seats in the Northeast, and their support was thus key to the right (read, the PSDB). The PFL wasn’t strong in all states of the Northeast, for example they always lacked a base in Ceará and were weak in states such as Alagoas or Paraíba; but overall, they were the dominant party in the region. They held the plurality of the region’s seats in the Chamber of Deputies between 1990 and 2010, and between 1990 and 2006 they controlled at least two governorships in the region, often more than that.

However, as the direct representatives of the old order, they stood to lose the most from the realignment described above. And indeed it did. The chart above shows the evolution of the votes for the PFL in elections to the Chamber of Deputies between 1986 and 2010. 1986 is perhaps abnormaly high given the two-party nature of Brazilian politics that year, but between 1990 and 2002 the PFL won over 24% of the votes in each election region-wide. In 2006, for the first time, their vote fell below 20% to reach 17%; but even then they still controlled a narrow plurality of the seats in the region and topped the poll in the region. It was to be their last hurrah. In 2010, their vote collapsed below the 10% line to reach a paltry 9.41%. A spectacular decline of nearly 15% in a period of 8 years. That has significantly reduced the party’s caucus in both chambers, and they are no longer the region’s dominant party (the PT and PMDB, like in the rest of Brazil, have taken up that role).

The story of the Nordeste’s drastic electoral evolution in such a short period of times highlights not only the decline and perhaps upcoming fall of the coronels and caciques of yesterday, but also highlights a fundamental realignment in the voting patterns of Brazilians in the wake of the first left-wing government in the country since the 1960s. The story of one of Latin America’s most fascinating regions is also the story of many regions of Brazil and Latin America as a whole.

Czech Senate 2010

Runoffs for a third of the seats in the Czech Senate were held on October 22 and 23, following a first round last week. While the Czech Senate has few powers, it does have a few symbolic powers and control of the Senate is generally important for a government. However, the Senate can only delay and not block legislation from the lower house and the Senate’s decision is easily overridden by a simple majority vote in the lower house. As one might expect, turnout in senatorial elections in the Czech Republic are very low. Though turnout last week was a high 44.59%, it was only because local elections were held on the same day. Turnout today dwindled to 25.15%, which is probably an all time low.

Because no constituency elected a member by the first round, runoffs were held in all 27 constituencies. The opposition ČSSD had done well in the first round, leading in ten seats, while the three main governing parties: the ODS, TOP 09 and VV did rather poorly. Due to the larger fragmentation of the right-wing vote, some had thought that the right could do better in the runoffs overall, but on the other hand the high possibility of a fall in turnout was thought to be a possible benefit for the opposition.

The results confirmed and amplified the first round success of the ČSSD, with the party taking 12 of the 27 seats up for reelection. The ODS took 8 seats, TOP 09 took two, KDU-ČSL took two, took two and one independent won. These results will give the ČSSD a majority of seats in the Senate, an historic feat. Here is my calculation of the new composition of the Senate:

ČSSD winning 41 seats (+12) including 12 new
ODS winning 25 seats (-10) including 8 new
KDU-ČSL winning 5 seats (-1) including 2 new
TOP 09 winning 3 seats (-3) including 2 new
KSČM winning 2 seats (-1) winning 2 seats (+2) including 2 new
SOS winning 1 seat (nc)
Independents winning 2 seats (+1) including 1 new

The ČSSD won by comfortable margins in almost all the 12 seats it won, including three where they had trailed in the first round. This indicates that voters who voted for other right-wing parties (such as TOP 09 and VV) in the first round stayed home, or, more unlikely, voted but didn’t behave as the ODS might have wished. Liana Janáčková, a rather right-wing and controversial independent, was notably defeated in Ostrava-město, though she had taken first place a week ago. VV managed to make the runoff in Frýdek-Místek, but narrowly lost to the left with 48.58% in the runoff. In Pardubice, where the ČSSD had polled a plurality a week ago, an independent narrowly won with 52.23% in the runoff, likely benefiting from good transfers from the right. The independent in question has said that she will probably join the KDU-ČSL ‘club’ (parliamentary group) in the Senate, thus aligning with the right., another vaguely independent regional party in northern Bohemia, did well, taking the district it had led on the first round (a full 65% against the ODS) but also a strong win (56%) against the ČSSD in a nearby district. Somebody will probably know better, but this party seems to be based around some sort of opposition to coal mining quotas or limits in the coal (lignite) producing regions of northern Bohemia (Most and Ústí nad Labem). KDU-ČSL’s results were good for them, generally, especially after it’s creaming in May. Being outside parliament, the KDU-ČSL may have a chance at picking up votes from unhappy right-wingers, especially if the ČSSD proves once again unable to provide a strong alternative. On a final note, TOP 09 almost managed a third seat today with a very narrow loss – by 70 votes – in Prague 6 to the ODS.

The ČSSD’s victory is a bit abetted by the low turnout, and the party’s results aren’t equal to their 2008 landslide of epic proportions; but the bottom line is that this is an important victory for the ČSSD and a big blow for the government. The government’s ability to pass legislation will not be significantly altered, though the government may on its side reconsider some of its agenda after an early rebuke by the electorate. Some believe that a shift from budget cuts to tax increases as a remedy for the country’s budget woes is likely; and some believe that the government’s two junior members may start making noises about leaving the majority after their poor showings.

    Czech Senate 2010

    The first round of election for a third of the Czech Senate as well as key local elections were held in the Czech Republic on October 15 and 16. The Senate, which is made up of 81 members elected for six-year terms, is renewed every two years in thirds. The series of seats up this year were elected back in 2004, these seats being constituencies 1, 4, 7, 10, 13 and so on till 79. Senators are elected in a traditional two-round French-like system, with 50% needed to win by the first round. Local elections, in which around 62,000 local councillors were up for reelection, were held throughout the country with the biggest contest in the capital, Prague, where both the city’s mayor and district mayors were up for grabs.

    The Senate has little power, it can only delay a bill from the lower house and this veto can be easily overridden with a mere simple majority in the lower house. As a result, turnout in Senate elections has usually been quite low, for example it reached 39.5% in the 2008 first round and was as low as 29% in 2004 (when these seats were last up). It shouldn’t be a surprise then that Senate elections tend to feature blow-outs, for example in 2008 the ČSSD won 23 of the 27 seats up (at a time when the ODS government was unpopular) while in 2004 the ČSSD won none of the seats up (in the Euro elections the same day, the ČSSD, then in power, came fifth overall).

    The Czech Republic voted in general elections in May and its government is only four months old. In May, both traditional parties, the centre-right ODS and the centre-left ČSSD did especially poorly, to the benefit, largely, of two new right-wing parties, TOP 09 (which is more pro-European than the ODS) and VV (Public Affairs, a populist thing). The Greens and KDU-ČSL were wiped out, though the old Communists held their ground remarkably well. A coalition government led by the ODS’ Petr Nečas was formed by the ODS, TOP 09 and VV on a platform which includes major cuts to spending and public sector wages in an attempt to bring down the country’s budget deficit to the EU limit of 3% instead of the current 5.8%. One might think that the government would still be in its honeymoon a mere four months, but governments in bad economic times often have extremely short honeymoons as the economic circumstances force them into immediate and oftentimes unpopular actions. Voters tend to like calls for a healthy budget, low deficits and strong finances in election times but they often don’t like the fine-print revealed afterwards which says that their wages and social programs will have to suffer a bit in return.

    While the government isn’t yet in the abyss, the poll ratings of all three governing parties have slid somewhat and the aura of ‘change’ and ‘newness’ which surrounded VV and TOP 09 in May have been tarnished a bit. Turnout reached a rather healthy 44.59% in the Senate election, a result perhaps of the local elections held on the same day. No one won by the first round, which is somewhat unusual, but not at all surprising considering the division of the votes these days. In fact, no candidate even broke 40% of the vote and most won under 35% of the votes in their constituencies. After the first round, the ODS leads in 11 seats, the ČSSD leads in 10, TOP 09 and KDU-ČSL are ahead in two seats each while two smaller parties ( and NEZ) lead in one seat each. In

    According to my calculations, in the seats not up this year, the ODS (and independent ODS types) has 17, ČSSD (and independent ČSSD types) has 29, the KDU-ČSL have 3, the KSČM (Communists) have 2, TOP 09 has 1, a small liberal party (SOS has) 1, and another seat is held by a random independent. I don’t know how much weight we should put in it, but Czech news website iDNES says that if the results of the first round were repeated in the runoff, the new Senate would be as follows:

    ČSSD 40 seats (+11)
    ODS 28 seats (-7)
    KDU-ČSL 4 (-1)
    TOP 09 3 (-3)
    KSČM 2 (-1) 1 (+1)
    NEZ 1 (nc)
    SOS 1 (nc)
    Independent-NSK 1 (nc)

    Of course, there’s still the runoff to go and given the further dispersion of right-wing votes than those of the left, it is possible that the right will do better in the runoff than in the first round. But, turnout in the runoff is usually even lower than in the first round and there are no local elections then to motivate turnout. That means that those who will probably vote in the runoff will probably be more likely to be opponents of the government than supporters of the government, especially if the latter suffer a morale drop from media headlines declaring the first round a quasi-rout for the right.

    Already, in nine seats held by ODS incumbents, the ČSSD is ahead by the first round and in three of those, the ODS is already out by the first round. The ČSSD also has a shot in districts 58 and 70, held by KDU-ČSL and NEZ respectively. Overall, the ČSSD has 22 candidates in runoffs and ten of those are leading by the first round. The ODS has 19 candidates and 11 of them are ahead already. TOP 09 has five candidates in runoffs and two of them are ahead (both incumbents, in Karlovy Vary and Prague 10). One TOP 09 incumbent, a former Christian democrat, was defeated by the first round in the East Bohemian district of Ústí nad Orlicí (Pardubice region). TOP 09, overall, did relatively poorly and did not break through much in the Prague region, where one might have expected some big gains for the party there, coming from the ODS. The KDU-ČSL has three candidates, two of whom are leading. It held its ground quite well in its traditional Moravian heartland, which shows to some extent that the party isn’t dead despite it’s historic drubbing in May. VV is in the runoff in one place, in district 73 (Frýdek-Místek) in Moravia, where it is narrowly trailing the ČSSD as a result of the first round.

    The ČSSD’s ‘victory’ isn’t as spectacular as some might make it out to be, given that it’s overall raw score remains quite paltry (low 20s or something) and that it merely gained back ground it shouldn’t have lost in its Moravian and east Bohemian bases. These seats were last up in 2004, and 2004 most certainly wasn’t a normal year. In fact, it was one of the most abnormal years in Czech elections and it was obvious that this year would be a ‘correction’ to the anomaly of 2004. Furthermore, one should remember that, similarly to the French PS, the ČSSD is very good at winning off-year local-level or low-interest elections but doesn’t seem to be able to do as spectacularly in the elections that actually matter. Lest we forget, the ČSSD’s former leader, Jiří Paroubek, was incompetent and it currently does not seem to have gotten itself a leader ready to inspire voters, though interim leader Bohuslav Sobotka doesn’t seem all that bad.

    In local elections, the ČSSD has gained back some ground but didn’t do spectacularly overall. Associations of local parties and independents still hold nearly half of the seats, 30597 overall though these independents won only 12% of the votes. ČSSD won 19.7% of the votes cast, ODS got 18.8%, KSČM won 9.6%, TOP 09 won 9.5%, KDU-ČSL took 5.5% and VV took only 2.9% and did not break through anywhere.

    Prague, Europe’s fifth wealthiest city, has been a stronghold of the ODS, which has held it since the first local elections in 1994. However, the emergence of TOP 09 as a centre-right pro-European type party has challenged ODS somewhat, and TOP 09 won the city in May. It was a big target for the party this year, and it seems to be one of the party’s few bright spots. It won 30.3% of the vote and 26 seats against 21.1% and 20 seats for ODS. ČSSD won 17.9% and 14 seats, up two while the Communists lost 3 seats and won 6.8% and 3 seats. A coalition between the Greens and SNK-ED, which held 10 seats in 2006, collapsed entirely and won a mere 5.9%. It is certainly a blow to the ODS, but it isn’t one which should come out of the blue entirely. Former central bank governor Zdenek Tuma is the favourite to become Mayor.

    The Senate runoffs will tell us more about the results, but it is not totally crazy to think that if TOP 09 and VV do badly again in the runoffs they could reconsider their participation in the cabinet. Mid-term cabinet collapses are not unusual in the Czech Republic, especially if their junior partners feel that they made the wrong decision in joining the cabinet. The government could also consider shifts in its policy, such as dropping budget cuts in favour of tax hikes as a method to bridge the deficit. If the results of the first round are confirmed, this first test for the Czech government could prove interesting as a point of comparison to other European countries which recently elected governments committed to some tough budget cuts (UK, Slovakia, Netherlands especially) where their governments may or may not be doing so well in a few months time.

    Case Study in the shortcomings of PR: Kyrgyzstan 2010

    Kyrgyzstan held a legislative election on October 10, a major election in that it is the first since a April 2010 coup ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and the first since a June referendum in which a parliamentary form of government was adopted in stead of the traditional presidential form of government, in vogue in most of the former Soviet Union and especially in Central Asia.

    Authoritarian President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who himself had ousted an authoritarian leader (Askar Akayev) in 2005, was overthrown in a coup in April 2010 and a provisional government led by Roza Otunbayeva. A constitutional referendum, held in the midst of ethnic riots between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan (the native stronghold of Bakiyev and a nationalist hotbed) in June 2010, approved a change from a presidential system of governance to a parliamentary system of governance. Presidential elections, originally scheduled for October 10, were delayed by a full year to October 2011 partly as a result of the underlying crisis in the country. Kyrgyzstan is of vital importance in the region as it is a key strategic point between Russia and Afghanistan, and as a result it houses both Russian and American bases. Though the provisional government’s early moves were thought to be pro-Russian, Russia has apparently been annoyed at the creation of a parliamentary system.

    The election for the 120 seats in the Supreme Council were held through closed-list PR, with the threshold for representation being 5% of registered voters and obtaining more than 0.5% of the vote in all 9 provinces. As a democratic system in its infancy, political parties are likely in their early days and reflect the main political leaders and lobby groups vying for a share of power.

    The main parties were the conservative Ata-Zhurt, a southern-based nationalist party thought to be close to Bakiyev,  the governing pro-American and pro-parliamentary Social Democrats (SDPK) of the incumbent President, the  pro-Russian and anti-parliamentary system Ar-Namys, the Respublika outfit led by some wealthy oligarch and finally the centre-left pro-government Ata-Meken.

    Here are the results:

    Ata-Zhurt 8.88% winning 28 seats
    SDPK 8.04% winning 26 seats
    Ar-Namys 7.74% winning 25 seats
    Respublika 7.24% winning 23 seats
    Ata-Meken 5.6% winning 18 seats
    Butun Kyrgyzstan 4.84%
    Ak-Shumkar 2.63%
    Zamandash 2.11%

    Yes, you read correctly. The largest party has just 8.88% of the vote (though a bit over 15% of the votes cast, turnout was 55%) and the five parliamentary parties account for only 37.5% of the votes (though 67.1% of the votes actually cast). It still means that 62% of voters, a lot of whom did not turn out, are unrepresented. This election will become a case study in the shortcomings of PR systems, even if some people who will use it as such won’t even know what Kyrgyzstan is. Clearly, the most ridiculous aspect of the system here is the fact that the threshold is based on the registered voters and not valid votes actually cast, something which penalizes all parties and in which non-voters are given a role far larger than they deserve. For example, if the threshold had been a much saner and traditional 5% of valid votes cast, Butun Kyrgyzstan would have gotten in easily, but they miss out only because of the relatively low turnout. In a country like Kyrgyzstan, riots and protests as a result of this election and the hand-wrangling which could follow is certainly not impossible.

    My comprehension of Kyrgyz and Russian being what it is, I haven’t hunted down results by province, but Wikipedia, which isn’t a reliable source but whatever, has mentioned that Ata-Zhurt dominated the south but barely cleared the other threshold, 0.5% in each province, in the Bishkek and the northern Chuy Province. The 0.5% threshold may have good intentions in that it could prevent an exclusively regional-based party from emerging (something which is a major danger in fragile countries such as Kyrgyzstan where secession is a major threat), but it could turn out to be ridiculous in that it would also result in the non-representation of certain key regional interests. Imagine such a system being applied in Spain!

    The election was still largely free and fair, a very positive result for the country as it tries yet another transition from authoritarian sham democracy to liberal democracy. Yet, the divisive results of this election as well as Ata-Zhurt’s first place showing is a cause of concern given that it could lead to further instability (like in Iraq post-election) and parliamentary division as parties struggle to find coalition partners.

    These elections have given a bad name (somewhat unfairly) to proportional representation, remains to be seen if they’ll also give a bad name to parliamentary regimes in the region dominated by strong presidential systems.

      Brazil 2010

      The first round of presidential, legislative, gubernatorial and state elections were held in Brazil on October 3. Runoffs for the presidential race and a handful of gubernatorial contests will be held on October 31. Here’s the results of the main races, presidential and otherwise:

      Dilma Rousseff (PT) 46.91%
      José Serra (PSDB) 32.61%
      Marina Silva (PV) 19.33%
      Plínio de Arruda Sampaio (PSOL) 0.87%
      José Maria Eymael (PSDC) 0.09%
      José Maria de Almeida (PSTU) 0.08%
      Levy Fidélix (PRTB) 0.06%
      Ivan Pinheiro (PCB) 0.04%
      Rui Costa Pimenta (PCO) 0.01%
      blank and null 8.64%

      The main surprise, of sorts, of this election was the fact that Dilma will have to face a runoff against Serra, something which most did not predict. Though she had struggled, so to speak, in the final days, most pollsters predicted that she would still win outright by the first round. It isn’t to say that the pollsters botched this one, given that the last poll by Datafolha the day before the vote had her at 50% with a margin of error of 3%, which places her result within the margin of error. But something certainly happened. Even though voting is mandatory in Brazil, the rule is not strictly applied and abstention always ends up being slightly below 20%, and given that voting in Brazil is electronic through machines, the number of blank and null votes is often quite high. Abstention is always higher in poorer and more remote areas, which tend to favour the PT. Another factor may have been a low potency scandal in the Chief of Staff (Casa Civil)’s office involving Dilma’s successor in that office which she herself held until recently. Such a scandal might have influenced some of the PT’s more urban and educated voters to switch their votes at the last minute to Marina Silva, the Green candidate.  At the same time, some Dilma voters might not have bothered turning out because almost everybody said she’d win outright.

      Marina Silva was the main over-performer of the first round, defying almost all expectations and garnering around 19% of the vote. While she surged in the last few days of the campaign, she spent most of it languishing in the low double digits or high single digits, and people had assume d that her ‘centrist’ vote would be squeezed in the last weeks of the campaign. Instead, her vote reflects perhaps discontent by some voters about the polarized political system which, despite a multitude of parties, basically has two national-level coalitions which seem rather solid. On the other hand, her high vote could also reflect her coalescing the evangelical vote (20% or so) behind her, especially after Dilma’s numbers with evangelicals fell in the last few days as rumours circulated about her being supposedly pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. Marina, evangelical herself though hardly an hardcore conservative on social issues, might have benefited from her image as the only evangelical candidate.

      The patterns which first emerged in the 2006 election, with the creation of more or less solid “red states” and “blue states” has held in this election. Despite the widespread popularity of Lula and the prosperity which has come, for some more than others, on Brazilians; the division of the electorate along lines of incomes and social class have prevailed. As in 2006, the wealthier (and whiter) states preferred the candidate of the PSDB. Poorer (and often darker-skinned) voters, especially in the impoverished Nordeste preferred the candidate of the PT. The reasons are rather simple: poorer voters feel indebted to Lula’s party and almost worship him. On the other hand, wealthier voters still feel rather uneasy with the PT and are more likely to be worried by arguments that Lula and his allies and trying to transform the PT into an equivalent of the Mexican PRI and rule the country for the next 50 years or so.

      All but three states which voted for Alckmin in the first round of 2006 voted for Serra on Sunday. All but one of the states which voted for Alckmin in the runoff in 2006 voted for Serra in 2006 (as did two other states which voted for Lula in the runoff, but Alckmin in the first round). The only state which broke from this line was Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state, and one of the wealthiest and traditionally more or less conservative (at least recently). Given that Dilma is from Rio Grande do Sul (though born in Minas Gerais), having started her political career in Porto Alegre (which, ironically, she lost) it is explainable. The unpopularity of the state’s PSDB governor, Yeda Crusius, probably helped her as well.

      At this point, a map at the municipal level is of some use, so here is a great map provided by the Estado de São Paulo newspaper:

      If there’s one state which makes little sense, it has to be Acre. Although it’s one of the PT’s earliest bases outside São Paulo, it had voted for Alckmin in the first round of 2006. This time, however, it heavily backed Serra, in fact it was his best state of all 27, with 52.13% of the vote. This despite having a relatively popular PT state government, and of course being Marina Silva’s home state. Some have suggested a recent growth in agrobusiness here as a possible explanation for this shift in the state, which probably started in 2006. In Xapuri, which was the home base of well-known rubber tapper (and PT founding figure) Chico Mendes, Serra won over 53% of the vote and Marina won only 14% of the vote there, despite being rather closely connected with Chico Mendes’ legacy. As we’ll see later, the gubernatorial results in Acre also got me to scratch my head a bit.

      The other results are not surprising. Save for some closer margins in Sergipe (judging from gubernatorial results, the PT state government’s possible unpopularity might explain that) and Alagoas (Maceió is probably the only consistently right-wing urban centre in the region); Dilma crushed in the Nordeste. In Maranhão, where she had the backing of both the Sarney machine and the sociological-demographic nature of the state behind her, she won 70.65% of the vote, her best state. She did especially well in Piauí and Ceará, as well as Pernambuco and Bahia. In the sertão region of the Northeast, Dilma won by some massive margins. Often over 70% of the vote, and over 80% in a number of municipalities as well. The dry and arid sertão, used to droughts and with little year-round agriculture, is dirt-poor and the poorest region of Brazil by far (it’s also Lula’s native land). The more humid and greener coastal regions are slightly wealthier, and historically dominated by sugarcane, but they’re equally poor.

      Amazonas is now a rather awkward stickout on maps, with the originality of being Serra’s weakest state (8.5%) and one of Dilma’s strongest (65%) while being surrounded by some of Serra’s best states. The state is very poor (but so are Acre and Roraima), but has benefited a lot from federal funding since 2002 and the PSDB’s policies in regards to trade are rather unpopular in the Manaus Free Trade Zone. Some might be led into thinking that Amazonas is heavily Native (‘Indian’), but in fact Roraima has the highest native population, albeit only 4% or so. On the topic of Roraima, as well as Rondônia and southwestern Pará, the relative strength of the right in those regions is likely due to land use patterns, with a lot of big soy farms (like in Mato Grosso and the western Centre-West region as a whole) and important agrobusiness in the area. The fact that most inhabitants in those regions (who are largely white) settled there during the military regime probably also plays a role. Evangelical voters – who lean more to the right (Democrats in particular, PSDB much less so) than Catholics are also found in large numbers in the isolated regions of the North. Unsurprisingly, given Marina’s staunch opposition to hydroelectric dams and agrobusiness developments in general, she did extremely poorly (between 1 and 7% generally) in the ‘blue’ municipalities of the North and Centre-West.

      In the densely populated South and South-West, Serra did best in the wealthiest municipalities, which can be defined as forming a rough string between the northeastern part of Rio Grande do Sul, into the coastal regions of Santa Catarina and Paraná and ending up in São Paulo and the Paraiba Valley. He won the city of São Paulo 40-38 (a map of the vote in the city’s boroughs can be found here); though Dilma won most of the industrial ABC belt (including Lula’s union base of São Bernardo do Campo) though obviously she did badly in places like São Caetano do Sul (the wealthiest municipality in Brazil, which forms the ‘C’ of the ABC belt). Serra also generally dominated in most of the Paulista countryside, though Dilma did well in the industrial areas in and around Campinas, the state’s other main population centre.

      Elections are usually won in Minas Gerais, and Dilma won there by a 16 point margin over Serra. Serra was confined to the wealthier, whiter rural areas of southwestern Minas Gerais, while Dilma crushed him by huge margins, often raking up 60-70% of the vote. However, in Belo Horizonte, the state capital and one of the wealthiest towns in Brazil, Marina Silva won 39.88% to Dilma’s 30.92% and Serra’s 27.73%.

      Marina Silva won or did well in urban centres, especially those wealthy, educated and younger towns. Belo Horizonte is one of those towns, but a better example is Brasilia – Marina won the DF easily with nearly 42% of the vote, more than 10 points ahead of Dilma. Brasilia is a largely educated, well-off town with a lot of public servants. Marina also did well in Rio (31.91% – a map of the vote in the city’s boroughs can be found here), Niteroi (37.05%), Recife (36.73%), Natal (29.41%), Salvador (30.21%), Fortaleza (31.39%), Manaus (35.9%), Macapa (34.81%) and Rio Branco (35.64%  – her home town). All these towns reflect an averagely well-off, middle-aged to young and very educated electorate common to almost all Green parties in the world. She also performed well in some seaside resort communities such as Vila Velha (ES) and places slightly east of Rio de Janeiro. The second part of her electorate, which can explain her good results in states like Rio but also Amapá and Espírito Santo is an evangelical base, attached to her more for her image as an evangelical than for her program (she is not a social conservative, or at least not unusually social conservative in the national context).

      The mere fact that Serra wasn’t knocked out of contention by the first round has given new hope, futile hope, to the PSDB that they still have a shot at winning. In fact, it really doesn’t. Dilma is a mere 3% away from a majority, so on paper she needs barely any votes from Marina Silva. Thus, Marina isn’t necessarily the kingmaker (or queenmaker) she wants to be nor the kingmaker certain make her. She is likely to announce whether or not she endorses somebody in the next 15 days, and has put questions such as abortion (where she wants a referendum on the issue), forestry and the environment on the table. Some say that given that she left her job in the Senate to run for President, she could be interested in negotiating a way into cabinet for herself, though it is hard to envision such a scenario. She is on bad terms with Dilma, with whom she often feuded in the past when they were both in cabinet (especially when Dilma was energy minister). They also disagree on the issue of new hydroelectric power in the Amazon as well as the growth of agrobusiness (such as soy) in the North and Centre-West. Furthermore, while she has already said her personal decision might contradict that of the Green Party, the PV itself seems to be leaning more towards Serra and the second most well-known Green, Fernando Gabeira (PV-RJ) has already endorsed Serra.

      The average Green voter has been explained above briefly and divided into two classes. The first demographic, the educated rather affluent urban voter, is more similar to the average Serra voter than the average Dilma voter. For example, all but one of the districts that Marina won in Rio voted for Alckmin in the first round of 2006. Their vote for Marina over the other two could reflect discontent with the two-coalition system which is growing in Brazil, and their vote in the runoff could be a “least worst” vote. The results in Belo Horizonte, Brasilia and Rio will be good guides on election night as to how this electorate split in the runoff. The second demographic, poorer and evangelical, might be guided more by their church and pastor than by the candidate. This is where the touchy issue of abortion comes into play, because these voters likely abandoned Dilma’s ship in the last few days after the rumours that she was pro-choice started swirling. They might be harder to catch than one might think, and that’s why the PT is seriously considering turning around on abortion to adopt a more conservative position in order to court the evangelical vote.


      Nine out of 27 races will end in a runoff on October 31. In general, these gubernatorial races were generally more favourable to the right than federal-level races were. The right was comforted with big wins in Brazil’s two most populous states, São Paulo and Minas Gerais.

      Out of 18 states won outright, the PSDB has 4 governors’ mansions, as does the PT and PMDB. The PSB has two, tied with the Democrats. The PMN, a small party aligned with the opposition, has one.

      In Acre, the result was pretty boggling. Tião Viana (PT) was expected to easily defeat Tião Bocalom (PSDB), who was a low-key paper candidate, but instead he got a very close race and managed squeak out a win only narrowly with 50.51% to Bocalom’s 49.18%. The PT has ruled in Acre for the last 12 years or so, which indicates that some important change is perhaps taking place in the state’s politics.

      In Alagoas, the incumbent Governor, Teo Vilela (PSDB) was a dead man walking a few months ago, but by the first round he placed well ahead of his two main rivals, taking 39.58% of the vote and a comfortable first place ahead of the runoff. A big endorsement from the popular mayor of Maceió helped him a lot, as did his cozying up with Lula (despite being in an opposition party) in a state where Lula is pretty popular. The other surprise was for second place, which went to former Governor Ronaldo Lessa (PDT), who won 29.16%; narrowly pulling ahead of disgraced President, former Governor and incumbent Senator Fernando Collor (PTB) who won only 28.81%. Collor was thought to be the favourite a few months ago and was still considered likely to get into the runoff just days ago, but narrowly missed out on the runoff. The runoff will likely be one of the key races to watch for on October 31. Teo Vilela is favoured, but in a shocking turn of events, Collor endorsed his former enemy, Lessa, for the runoff. Collor, who defeated Lessa in the 2006 senatorial contest, would prefer to have Lessa as Governor as he runs for re-election in 2014.

      In Amazonas, incumbent Governor Omar Aziz (PMN) won a landslide re-election, taking 63.87% of the votes against 25.91% for Senator Alfredo Nascimento (PR), a former Lula cabinet minister. The PPS’ Hissa Abrahão won 9.36%.

      In Amapá, the incumbent Governor Pedro Paulo (PP) spent some of the last days of his campaign in… jail for corruption. Thankfully, he was easily defeated in his bid for re-election, taking fourth place and only 13.5%. This leaves a runoff between Lucas (PTB), supported by the Sarney machine, and a Sarney rival, Camilo Capiberibe (PSB). Both candidates ended up practically tied, with Lucas ahead with 28.93% and Capiberibe trailing with 28.68%. Jorge Amanjas (PSDB), another Sarney ally, won 28.19% and is likely the kingmaker. Given that the Capiberibe family are the enemies of the Great Sarney Machine in José Sarney’s personal colony, Lucas should be favoured.

      Bahia was a great victory for the PT and its candidate, Jaques Wagner, over the previously hegemonic PFL machine led by the late Antonio Carlos Magalhães (ACM). Jaques Wagner’s re-election, over former governor and 2006 rival Paulo Souto (DEM) but also former Lula cabinet minister Geddel Vieira Lima (PMDB), was nothing short of spectacular. Even though he lacked the support of the PMDB, which had been crucial to the PT in 2006, Wagner won a landslide with 63.83% of the vote to Souto’s 16.09% and Geddel’s paltry 15.56%. This plebiscite-like reelection for Wagner is a nice highlight of how the Northeast has shifted far to the left during Lula’s terms.

      Ceará Governor Cid Gomes (PSB), brother of Ciro, was easily re-elected against weak opposition with 61.27%. Marcos Cals (PSDB), a paper candidate, did surprisingly well for one, taking 19.51%. He also managed second place against a far more well-known candidate, Lúcio Alcântara (PR), the state’s governor between 2002 and 2006 until he lost to Ciro Gomes.  Lúcio took 16.44% of the vote.

      Some runoffs, like that in the Federal District, will be boring. Former cabinet minister Agnelo Queiroz (PT) took 48.41% of the vote, narrowly missing out on a first round win against a fledgling opposition. Joaquim Roriz (PSC), a crook, had his candidacy rejected and gave his candidacy to his wife, Weslian, who still managed 31.50%. Toninho (PSOL) did really well, winning 14.25%, votes which should ensure a landslide win for Agnelo in the runoff. A Green candidate also won 5.64% of the vote.

      We knew that in Espírito Santo Renato Casagrande (PSB) would win a first term easily, but that easily? His crushing victory with a full 82.30% of the vote surprised some. Luiz Paulo (PSDB) only managed 15.50% of the vote against the Senator and incoming Governor.

      Another interesting runoff in the offing in Goiás, where former governor and incumbent Senator Marconi Perillo (PSDB) missed out on a first round win narrowly, taking 46.33%. He will face the PMDB’s Iris Rezende, a former governor as well, in the runoff. Though Perillo used to be allied with incumbent Governor Alcides Rodrigues (PP), who was in fact his chosen successor in 2006, the two have broken up and the incumbent supported Vanderlan (PR) to succeed him. Vanderlan won 16.62%, but if he supports Rezende, which is quite likely, it means this race is a key tossup.

      In Maranhão, incumbent Govenor Roseana Sarney (PMDB) won re-election by the first round, defeating notably her 2006 rival, Jackson Lago (PDT), who defeated her four years ago (but was later forced out of office for vote buying). She narrowly escaped a runoff, which are really perilous for her, with 50.08% of the vote. In second place was the PCdoB’s Flávio Dino with 29.49%. Disgraced Jackson Lago (PDT), the de-facto right-winger in the race, got a paltry 19.54%. Daddy’s girl will likely be happy she escaped a runoff.

      In the end, Minas Gerais was not much fun. After surging in the last month, as I had predicted, incumbent Governor Antonio Anastasia (PSDB), supported by outgoing governor Aécio Neves, won rather easily over the earlier favourite, former Lula cabinet minister and Senator Hélio Costa (PMDB). Anastasia won a crushing 62.72% to Hélio’s 34.18%. This third consecutive PSDB win in Minas Gerais, the country’s second most populous, this time on the back of Aécio’s popularity, is an important boost the PSDB at the state level. This, combined with power in São Paulo, gives it important leverage on the state level.

      Mato Grosso do Sul incumbent Governor Andre Puccinelli (PMDB – right-wing) was easily reelected with 56% against former governor Zeca do PT’s 42.5%.

      In office only since the spring, Mato Grosso Governor Silval Barbosa (PMDB) was easily re-elected. He won 51.21% of the vote, while his closest rival, Mauro Mendes (PSB) won 31.85%. Wilson Santos (PSDB) won 16.55%.

      Pará‘s Governor, Ana Julia (PT) is in a very bad shape for reelection though she escaped a first round ousting against former governor Simão Jatene (PSDB). Ana Julia has 36.05% against 48.92% for Simão Jatene. The 10.85% garnered by independent PMDB candidate Juvenil could help her, but Simão Jatene will win the runoff easily.

      A surprising result in Paraíba where the predicted easy win for Governor Ze Maranhão (PMDB) was not. The incumbent fell to a narrow second, with 49.30% of the vote against 49.74% for Ricardo Coutinho (PSB – right-wing). The rest of the vote went to far-left sects and the PSOL, votes that could place the incumbent over the top. Another boost for Maranhão is an endorsement from Toinho do Sopão (PTN), who got the most votes for state deputy, and who endorsed him over Coutinho, who has the support of the PTN (which is a fake party). It’s still a key tossup.

      As expected, Pernambuco Governor Eduardo Campos (PSB) won a huge landslide, winning 82.84% of the vote overall, nearly 6% better than Aécio Neves’ huge win in MG-2006. He trounced former governor and incumbent Senator Jarbas Vasconcelos (PMDB – right-wing) badly, leaving Jarbas with only 14.06% of the vote. Eduardo Campos will be term-limited in 2014, when Jarbas is up for re-election. Therefore, we could see a third Campos-Jarbas contest then, this time for Senate.

      Piauí has a runoff too, but it’s pretty boring. Governor Wilson Martins (PSB), in office since the spring, won 46.37%. Silvio Mendes (PSDB) won 30.08%, while another candidate on the left, João Vicente (PTB) won 21.54%. João Vicente endorsed Wilson Martins, meaning that he’ll win easily in the runoff.

      Those hoping for a nice race in Paraná were let down by the easy win there by former Curitiba mayor Beto Richa (PSDB), who won 52.44%, easily beating Senator Osmar Dias (PDT) who won 45.63%. A last-minute poll had shown the race tied 45-45, after weeks of catchup by Osmar Dias, but Beto Richa won by a surprisingly strong margin. His popularity in the capital, Curitiba, likely played a big role in his win.

      In Rio de Janeiro, Governor Sergio Cabral (PMDB) won a second-term with no trouble, winning the first round with 66.08% against a paltry 20.68% for Fernando Gabeira (PV – right-wing). Fernando Peregrino (PR), the candidate supported by well-known local politician and former governor Anthony Garotinho did well, winning 10.81%. I like to poke fun at the fact that Cabral spends a lot of time away on vacation, but aside from the PT’s support, he also has a good record with crime, definitely the big issue in Rio. Crime rates dropped quite a bit under his tenure, despite the well-mediatized hostage situation during the summer.

      A rare bright spot in Rio Grande do Norte for the declining Democrats, who picked up a PSB seat by the first round with a big win from Senator Rosalba Ciarlini (DEM) over incumbent Governor Iberê Souza (PSB). Rosalba won 52.46% of the vote against Ibere’s 36.25%. Former Natal mayor Carlos Eduardo Alves (PDT) did poorly, winning 10.37% of the vote. Iberê, in office since the spring, had some health problems and the administration of her predecessor, Vilma, who ran for Senate, was rather unpopular.

      In Rondônia, Governor João Cahulla (PPS) took office only in the spring and is facing a tough fight for re-election. By the first round, he had 37.14% of the vote against PMDB candidate Confúcio Moura who won 43.99%. PT candidate Eduardo Valverde won 18.16% of the vote, while a top contender, PSDB Senator Expedito Júnior saw his votes discarded because his candidacy is still question to judicial review. At any rate, Expedito Júnior endorsed the PMDB candidate, giving Confúcio Moura a further edge for the runoff.

      In Roraima, Governor Anchieta (PSDB), another of those new incumbents, is also in hot water for reelection, trailing PP candidate Neudo Campos with 45.03% to Campos’ 47.62%. With the support of Dr. Petronio (PHS), who won 6.39%, his reelection, however, becomes far more likely. Definitely a runoff to watch.

      In Rio Grande do Sul, the PT’s Tarso Genro, who lost in 2006, won his revenge easily, with a big win over former Porto Alegre mayor José Fogaça (PMDB – right-wing) and incumbent Governor Yeda Crusius (PSDB). Tarso won 54.35% of the vote, while Fogaça won 24.74%. Yeda Crusius has been unpopular for a long time and was sure to go down (and badly), and she won only 18.40%, though that’s a bit better than the 15% most people gave her. There is a definite tendency in Brazil that women politicians and officeholders are held to a much higher standard than males and thus punished far more badly than males when they screw up. I dare say that if Yeda Crusius had been a male, she’d have done quite a bit better than that.

      In Santa Catarina, former mayor of Florianópolis Ângela Amin (PP) was the favourite until a late surge by Senator Raimundo Colombo (DEM), supported by the PMDB, had her in. Raimundo Colombo won outright with 52.72%, while Ângela Amin took 24.91%. The PT’s Ideli Salvatti won 21.90%. Ângela Amin, well known and well liked in the state, was relying largely on her personal appeal more than partisan support, but she suffered from a late swing by traditional right-wing PP voters from the PP to the Democrats.

      In Sergipe, Governor Marcelo Déda (PT) won re-election over his predecessor and old PFL politico João Alves Filho (DEM), taking 52.08% of the vote to João Alves’ 45.19%. Déda had defeated then-Governor João Alves Filho by the exact same margin in 2006.

      São Paulo is undoubtedly one of the big prizes in Brazilian gubernatorial races, and this time again it was held easily by the PSDB against the PT. Former Governor and 2006 presidential candidate Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) was running for a second non-consecutive term against Aloizio Mercadante, an old PT stalwart. Alckmin won 50.63%, less than what Serra had won in 2006, against 35.23% fro Mercadante. Celso Russomanno (PP) took a paltry 5.42%, much lower than predicted, while the PSB’s Paulo Skaf won 4.56%. A Green candidate won 4.13% of the vote, finishing fifth. Alckmin still won the state by a much more decisive margin than his colleague Serra did in the presidential race.

      The Tocantins gubernatorial contest was a close one-on-one contest between incumbent Governor Carlos Gaguim (PMDB), who despite being in office only since September 2009, had already managed to become a crook attempting to divert one billion reais; and the state’s first and later three-term Governor, Siqueira Campos (PSDB). Siqueira Campos narrowly won, with 50.52%, against 49.48% for the incumbent criminal, who had been honest enough to say that he was going to hell when the world ended.


      The outgoing Senate, two-thirds of which had been elected in 2002, had a large right-wing caucus of varying shades, notably a large old PFL caucus from the Northeast and a weak PT bench. After this election, the government now has a clear unambiguous majority in the Senate, while the Democrats have suffered heavily. A number of big names from the opposition were taken down by a “red wave” in the Nordeste this year, marking a further evolution in the region’s fast-evolving politics.

      PMDB 21 seats (+4)
      PT 14 seats (+5)
      PSDB 10 seats (-6)
      DEM 6 seats (-7)
      PTB 6 seats (-1)
      PP 5 seats (+4)
      PR 4 seats (nc)
      PDT 4 seats (-2)
      PSB 3 seats (+1)
      PCdoB 2 seats (+1)
      PSOL 2 seats (+1)
      PRB 1 seat (-1)
      PPS 1 seat (+1)
      PSC 1 seat (nc)
      PMN 1 seat (+1)

      O Globo classifies 55 of these 81 senators as being pro-government, 22 as being anti-government and four being independent. Results in three states may change when the courts will decide whether to allow or reject the candidacies of key candidates who would have won a seat if their votes had been counted. As it stands now, votes cast for these politicians under judicial review under the Ficha Limpa (clean slate) law were not counted, but they will or will not be counted officially if and when the courts approve their candidacies.

      When looking at these races by state, don’t forget that this year two seats were up, meaning that each voter had two votes. The votes were added up, summed to 100% and the top two candidates won. In polls, however, responses added up to 200%. In Senate races, the votes cast are about double the votes cast for president/governor, meaning that if one wants to know overall how many individual voters voted for a candidate, double his percentage and that should tell you (I think, I’m bad at math) the percentage of people who voted for said candidate. Anyway, here’s a look at how the races broke down by state:

      Acre: Jorge Viana (PT), the brother of the new governor, narrowly won first place with 31.77% while the right-wing PMN’s Petecão took second place, with 30.90%. Some had thought that the second name on the left-wing slate, Edvaldo Magalhães (PCdoB) could win the second seat, but in the end he fall far short with only 19.13% and barely ahead of João Correia (PMDB right-wing) who won 18.21%.
      Seats: 1 PT, 1 PMN. 2007-2015 term: Tião Viana (PT) will be replaced by Aníbal Diniz (PT)

      Alagoas: Not much luck for clean government campaigners in Alagoas, with the election of two rather unsavoury and not too clean figures. Federal deputy Benedito de Lira (PP), an old pro-military stooge and ambulance leeches culprit, surged late in the campaign and won a surprising first place overall with 35.94%. This forced incumbent senator and former President of the Senate Renan Calheiros (PMDB) to take the second seat, with 33.42%. Renan had been forced out of his job after a long scandal, Renangate, in which he was accused of accepting funds from lobbyists to pay an illegitimate daughter he had had with a journalist. Former senator and 2006 presidential candidate Heloísa Helena (PSOL) won only 16.6% in the end, falling far short of a seat.
      Seats: 1 PP, 1 PMDB. 2007-2015 term: Fernando Collor (PTB)

      Amazonas: The main highlight of this election was the defeat of incumbent senator Arthur Virgílio (PSDB), one of the opposition’s top firebrands and a big critic of Lula’s government. Even though he managed 21.91% in a state where Serra won barely 8%, indicating a big personal vote, he fell in third place behind Vanessa Grazziotin (PCdoB) who won 22.89% and former governor Eduardo Braga (PMDB) who won an extremely strong 42.07%. Remember, these results add up to 100% but in reality each voter had two votes, so one can estimate that Braga won the votes of 84% of the state’s voters. Another incumbent, Jefferson Praia (PDT) also fell, winning a mere 8.27%, though he was in a weak shape for reelection at the outset.
      Seats: 1 PMDB, 1 PCdoB. 2007-2015 term: Alfredo Nascimento (PR)

      Amapá: In this not-so-clean race, whose victors could yet change, the big surprise was the big vote for Randolfe Rodrigues (PSOL), who won 38.94% of the votes. Randolfe, a former leader of the painted-faces 1992 Collor impeachment movement, had the support of Lucas Barreto (PTB), who is in first place in the gubernatorial contest, but this coalition won him a disendorsement from the PSOL. In second place, for now, is Gilvam Borges (PMDB), a shady Sarney stooge, who took 23.19%. Former Governor Waldez Goes (PDT), who spent some time in jail recently along with his acolyte and outgoing governor Pedro Paulo (PP), won only 20.45% of the vote and will not win a seat. Votes cast for João Capiberibe (PSB), a Sarney enemy, were disqualified under the Ficha Limpa law (he was deemed dirty in slightly shady circumstances), but if his candidacy is approved, he would be elected in Gilvam Borges’ stead.
      Seats: 1 PSOL, 1 PMDB. 2007-2015 term: José Sarney (PMDB)

      Bahia: A big red wave in this big Northeastern state carried incumbent senator César Borges (PR), albeit a rebellious ally of Lula, away. Supported by Geddel (PMDB), who broke with the President and the PT, César Borges was trounced with only 13.52% of the votes, leaving him with no chance against the two official left-wing candidates, PT deputy Walter Pinheiro and former Salvador mayor Lídice da Mata (PSB). Walter Pinheiro took 31% while Lídice won 28.90%. Lower down, José Ronaldo (DEM) took a mere 9.33% and his friend Aleluia (DEM) won 8.12%. Geddel ally and former bionic mayor Edvaldo Brito (PTB) won 6.92%.
      Seats: 1 PT, 1 PSB. 2007-2015 term: João Durval (PDT)

      Ceará: This race almost had me fall off my chair on election night, and many other people likely fell off outright. One of those people who fell off was Senator Tasso Jereissati (PSDB), a well-known tucano and longtime local politician (serving as governor in the past). Considered a shoo-in for re-election by all, the wave carried him away in a big shock. He won 23.70% and distant third, against 36.32% for Eunício Oliveira (PMDB) and José Pimentel (PT) with 32.39%. Alexandre Pereira (PPS) won 6.35%. The defeat of Jereissati is a big win for Lula, very popular in this state, and certainly a shock to many old right-wing Northeastern politicians (though Jereissati was by far the least distasteful of them all).
      Seats: 1 PMDB, 1 PT. 2007-2015 term: Inácio Arruda (PCdoB)

      In the Federal District, a big win for two left-wingers of various shades. Incumbent senator, former governor and former Lula ally Cristovam Buarque (PDT) was easily reelected with 37.27%. His running mate, Rollemberg (PSB) won 33.03%. Alberto Fraga (DEM) won 22.87%, while votes cast for former governor Maria de Lourdes Abadia (PSDB) were disqualified under the Ficha Limpa law. Even if they’re counted, she doesn’t have enough to wrestle a seat away from the left. 
      Seats: 1 PDT, 1 PSB. 2007-2015 term: Gim Argello (PTB)

      In Espírito Santo, riding on the wave of Renato Casagrande (PSB), the two top candidates of his coalition won easily. Vice Governor Ricardo Ferraço (PMDB) won 44.55% (which means nearly 90% voted for him) while incumbent senator Magno Malta (PR), a controversial evangelical ex-pastor won 36.76%. A mere 10.74% for Rita Camata (PSDB).
      Seats: 1 PMDB, 1 PR. 2007-2015 term: Ana Rita (PT) will replace Renato Casagrande (PSB)

      Snooze in Goiás, with two easy wins for the two incumbents (one of two states where both incumbents won reelection). Demóstenes Torres (DEM) won 44.09% while Lúcia Vânia (PSDB) won 30.56%. The PT’s Pedro Wilson won 17.95% and Paulo Roberto Cunha (PP) 4.65%.
      Seats: 1 DEM, 1 PSDB. 2007-2015 term: Cyro Giffor (PSDB), suplente for Marconi Perillo (PSDB)

      Sarney stooges win big in Maranhão, with incumbent senator Edson Lobão (PMDB), a close ally of the Sarney clan and a former energy and mines minister in Lula’s cabinet, taking 32.74%. His friend (and Sarney clan ally) João Alberto won 29.74%. In very distant third, Zé Reinaldo (PSB), a former governor and former Sarney ally, now aligned with his enemies, won 13.99%. Roberto Rocha (PSDB) won 12.36% and Edson Vidigal (PSDB) won 9.67%.
      Seats: 2 PMDB. 2007-2015 term: Epitácio Cafeteira (PTB)

      In Mato Grosso, the first seat saw a big win for former governor and soy king Blairo Maggi (PR, declared wealth of US$86 million). He won 37.08% of the votes (and far more raw votes than the winner in the governor’s race). A bit of a surprise for the second seat, which went to Pedro Taques (PDT) with 24.48%. He defeated Maggi’s ally Carlos Abicalil (PT) who won 18.43%. Antero Paes de Barros (PSDB) won only 11.92%. 
      Seats: 1 PR, 1 PDT. 2007-2015 term: Jayme Campos (DEM)

      In Mato Grosso do Sul, incumbent Senator Delcídio do Amaral (PT) won reelection easily, taking up 34.90%. The second seat, which went to Waldemir Moka (PMDB right-wing) with 23% was a three-way contest. Murilo Zauith (DEM) won 21.61%, followed closely by Dagoberto Nogueira (PDT) who won 20.49%.
      Seats: 1 PT, 1 PMDB. 2007-2015 term: Marisa Serrano (PSDB)

      Predictable in Minas Gerais, a key senate contest, which produced the expected results. Wildly popular former governor Aécio Neves (PSDB) won easily with 39.47%. In second place, his colleague and former President Itamar Franco (PPS) who wins the second seat with 26.74%. The PT’s Fernando Pimentel had gained speed in the last few days, but his 23.98% were not enough to overtake Itamar. He could have won if his running mate, Zito Vieira (PCdoB) had polled a bit less than 7.76%.
      Seats: 1 PSDB, 1 PPS. 2007-2015 term: Eliseu Resende (DEM)

      Honesty isn’t a virtue in Pará, where most people (57.24% of them) had their votes invalidated for voting for a candidate whose votes were not counted. Right now, Flexa Ribeiro (PSDB), not too clean himself (he spent a few days in jail already) but cleaner than his friends, wins 67.73% of the valid votes. In second, for now, is Marinor Brito (PSOL) with 27.11%. The final outcomes hinges on whether or not votes cast for Jader Barbalho (PMDB), incumbent federal deputy seeking to recover a senate seat he had resigned from in 2002 following the SUDAM scandal (where he set up fraudulent businesses, such as a frog farm, to launder money for himself), are valid. If they are, he ousts Marinor Brito for the second seat. Paulo Rocha (PT), a mensaleiros crook, also didn’t have his votes counted, but he does not enough to win.
      Seats: 1 PSDB, 1 PSOL. 2007-2015 term: Mário Couto (PSDB)

      Paraíba‘s final results could also change as a result of a court decision over votes cast for former governor Cássio Cunha Lima (PSDB) are counted. If they are, he would win. The victory of Vitalzinho (PMDB) with 35.37% is assured, but Wilson Santiago (PMDB), with 33.39% would fall if the former governor’s votes are counted. Incumbent senator Efraim Moraes (DEM) won 28.17%.
      Seats: 2 PMDB. 2007-2015 term: Cícero Lucena (PSDB)

      A big result in Pernambuco with the epic takedown of a big name, Marco Maciel (DEM). Marco Maciel, who has served a total of 18 years in the Senate, 8 years as VP (under Cardoso) and 3 years as governor, has finally lost in a major blow to the old military clique. He lost badly, taking only 11.86%. In first place, Armando Monteiro (PTB left-wing) with 39.87%, who surprisingly outpolled a well-known state cabinet minister in Humberto Costa (PT) who won 38.82%. Given that Armando Monteiro was presented as the man to vote for to get rid of Marco Maciel, people probably loaded his votes on him and propelled him to first place. Raul Jungmann (PPS), Marco Maciel’s ally, won 7.61%. 
      Seats: 1 PTB, 1 PT. 2007-2015 term: Jarbas Vasconcelos (PMDB)

      Two right-wingers down in Piauí. Former governor Wellington Dias (PT), very popular, won the first seat with 32.52%. In second place, federal deputy Ciro Nogueira Lima Filho (PP), something of a right-winger, who won 22.69%. However, two right-wing incumbents went down. Mão Santa (PSC), thought to be the best positioned of the two, took third with 14.14%. Heráclito Fortes (DEM), another old right-wing clique figure, lost reelection badly taking 13.84%, only managing fourth ahead of Antonio José Medeiros (PT) who won 13.44%.
      Seats: 1 PT, 1 PP. 2007-2015 term: João Vicente Claudino (PTB)

      In Paraná, a close call for former governor Roberto Requião (PMDB), who squeaked out his seat with 24.84%, placing second behind Gleisi Hoffman (PT) who wins 29.50%. For most of the night, federal deputy Gustavo Fruet (PSDB) trailed in a very close third, with 23.10%, almost enough to take down Requião. Ricardo Barros (PP), allied with Fruet, won 20.22%.
      Seats: 1 PT, 1 PMDB. 2007-2015 term: Álvaro Dias (PSDB)

      Rio de Janeiro saw an interesting contest in the end. Another of the campaign’s late-surgers, Lindberg Farias (PT), a former UNE student leader, won easily with 28.65%. That means that a key figure in the 1992 Collor impeachment marches will serve alongside Collor himself, best of all supporting the same government. In second, controversial conservative Lula ally, gospel singer and evangelical bishop Marcelo Crivella (PRB) won 22.66%. He was almost taken down by Jorge Picciani (PMDB), Lindberg’s running-mate, who won a surprisingly strong 20.73%. As for César Maia (DEM), the former mayor of Rio and a well-known local politician, who was thought to be a favourite only a few months ago, he wins 11.06%. Waguinho (PTdoB), a singer and ally of Garotinho, took 8.81%.
      Seats: 1 PT, 1 PRB. 2007-2015 term: Francisco Dornelles (PP)

      Dynasties still rule supreme in Rio Grande do Norte, with easy reelections for the incumbents. Garibaldi Alves Filho (PMDB) won reelection easily with 35.03%. José Agripino Maia (DEM), the other incumbent, took second with 32.23%. In a contest against José Agripino Maia, the cousin of her ex, former governor Wilma de Faria (PSB) took only 21.89% and lost quite badly. Hugo Manso (PT) won 7.53%. With the election of the other senator, Rosalba Ciarlini (DEM) to the governor’s office, her suplente, Garibaldi Alves (PMDB) will join his son in the Senate. Nice family.
      Seats: 1 PMDB, 1 DEM. 2007-2015 term: Garibaldi Alves (PMDB) replaces Rosalba Ciarlini (DEM)

      In Rondônia, the Ficha Limpa case has been sorted out already in favour of former governor Ivo Cassol (PP), who takes the second seat with 32.34%. Incumbent senator Valdir Raupp (PMDB) wins first, with 34.29%. However, the other incumbent, Fátima Cleide (PT) is defeated, taking 16.05%. Agnaldo Muniz (PSC) won 13.36%.
      Seats: 1 PMDB, 1 PP. 2007-2015 term: Acir Gurgacz (PDT)

      In Roraima, the pure opportunist Romero Jucá (PMDB), leader of the government in the Senate (who was also leader of the government for Cardoso…) has won reelection with 27.91%. Angela Portela (PT) wins the second seat with 26.15%, she defeats Marluce Pinto (PSDB) who won 21.42%, a personal rival. Marluce Pinto is the widow of former governor Ottomar Pinto (PSDB), who was a distasteful figure and military ally.
      Seats: 1 PMDB, 1 PT. 2007-2015 term: Mozarildo Cavalcanti (PTB)

      Not much surprise in Rio Grande do Sul, where Germano Rigotto (PMDB right-wing), former governor defeated in 2006, lost another election. He took third with 21.24%. That placed him behind journalist Ana Amélia Lemos (PP) who won 29.54% and also incumbent senator Paulo Paim (PT), who won 33.83%, surprisingly strong showing. Abgail Pereira (PCdoB) won 13.47%.
      Seats: 1 PT, 1 PP. 2007-2015 term: Pedro Simon (PMDB)

      In Santa Catarina, not much fun. Former governor Luiz Henrique da Silveira (PMDB right-wing) won easily, taking 28.44%. The PSDB’s Paulo Bauer took the second seat with 25.32%, comfortably ahead of Cláudio Vignatti (PT) who polled 19.44% while Hugo Biehl (PP), an ally of Ângela Amin, took 10.35%.
      Seats: 1 PMDB, 1 PSDB. 2007-2015 term: Casildo Maldaner (PMDB) will replace Raimundo Colombo (DEM)

      Boring stuff in Sergipe as well. Eduardo Amorim (PSC), a federal deputy allied with the left, won 33.65% and the first seat while incumbent Senator Antônio Carlos Valadares (PSB) won 25.62% and the second seat. In third, the PSDB’s Albano Franco won 18.29% and Machado (DEM) won 13.99%.
      Seats: 1 PSC, 1 PSB. 2007-2015 term: Maria do Carno Alves (DEM)

      A surprising result in São Paulo, with a very surprising easy victory for PSDB federal deputy for Aloysio Nunes, down even in the final polls (though he had surged in the last few days, ever since Quercia dropped out). Aloysio Nunes, in the end, came first, far ahead of the rest, with 30.42%. His election was certainly one of the most surprising moments on election night. For the second seat, former mayor Marta Suplicy (PT) had to fight with popular black singer Netinho de Paula (PCdoB – her running-mate) to get it. She took 22.61%, and Netinho de Paula took 21.14%, meaning that Netinho de Paula, presumed to be on his way to the Senate, lost out narrowly in the end. A very fine and surprising fourth for Ricardo Young (PV), who polled an excellent 11.20% and in the process managed to outpoll incumbent senator Romeu Tuma (PTB right-wing) who won only 10.79%. Romeu Tuma, however, had already been down by a lot in the end and he was a dead man walking (which is perhaps not the best joke ever given that some fake rumour transformed into ‘news’ regarding his alleged death circulated late in the campaign). 
      Seats: 1 PSDB, 1 PT. 2007-2015 term: Eduardo Suplicy (PT)

      In Tocantins finally, reelection was easy for João Ribeiro (PR) who won 27.96%. In second place, former governor Marcelo Miranda (PMDB) won 25.41%. Vicentinho Alves (PR), allied with Ribeiro, won 24.77% while 21.86% voted for Paulo Mourão (PT).
      Seats: 1 PR, 1 PMDB. 2007-2015 term: Kátia Abreu (DEM)

      Chamber of Deputies

      In the Chamber, the government overall increased its majority to a supermajority of over 60%, which allows it to alter the constitution and pass legislation more easily. The PT overtook the PMDB to form the largest caucus in the Chamber, which places a petista as the likely future President of the Chamber. The leader of the government in the Chamber, Cândido Vaccarezza (PT-SP) is a likely contender.

      The Chamber uses a bizarre and bad electoral system in which voters vote for individual candidates, but votes cast for candidates will count towards that candidate’s party/list and it is that party raw vote result (the sum of the votes cast for the party’s different candidates, basically) which is divided by the total number of votes cast to get the party’s quotient in the specific state. Therefore, celebrity candidates are a good deal for parties in Brazil, given that the system is favourable to those kinds of candidates who can draw a lot of votes. Their votes can drag paper candidates lower down on their list into Congress, and despite the uselessness of parties, the more seats a party has, the more leverage it has in Congress (most Brazilian parties are best understood as lobbies) and the more pork and graft it can garner for itself and its members. One of the most atrocious examples of this system is in São Paulo back in 2002, when the small far-right PRONA got 5 seats on the back of over a million votes cast for its popular charismatic leader Eneas, but the party’s other candidates barely had 1,000 votes apiece. However, Eneas’ big vote (in fact, the biggest vote for an individual in any Brazilian congressional election ever) won the party 5 seats, four of which went to people who got very few votes. As a result, you often get candidates with big votes who don’t win because their coalition overall didn’t get enough votes.

      As for their likely incompetence, it isn’t much of a worry given that Congress is full of crooks to begin with and that competence has never been a worry for them. Plus, for those in power it’s probably a win-win given that the celebrities are likely not too smart and can easily be bought for anything.

      The new makeup of the Chamber, compared to dissolution of the precedent legislature, is as follows:

      PT 88 (+9)
      PMDB 79 (-11)
      PSDB 53 (-6)
      DEM 43 (-13)
      PP 41 (+1)
      PR 41 (nc)
      PSB 34 (+7)
      PDT 28 (+5)
      PTB 21 (-1)
      PSC 17 (+1)
      PCdoB 15 (+3)
      Green 15 (+1)
      PPS 12 (-3)
      PRB 8 (+1)
      PMN 4 (+1)
      PSOL 3 (nc)
      PTdoB 3 (+2)
      PHS 2 (-1)
      PRP 2 (+2)
      PRTB 2 (+2)
      PSL 1 (+1)
      PTC 1 (-1)

      The Chamber website counts 311 of these as being allied with the government (the parties included in this calculation all officially endorsed Dilma), 111 as being opposition (the traditional right and the PSOL) and a further 91 as independents (the parties included in this calculation supported the Lula government but did not endorse Dilma, aka they’re opportunists with no shame in admitting it).

      The general rule in Chamber elections is that a party’s caucus will be 15 more or less than the party’s caucus at dissolution. That rule holds in this election as well.

      The Democrats suffered heavily this election, down from 56 at dissolution and 65 in 2006. The ‘Northeast Revolution’ of 2006/2010 has clearly hurt them a lot. Their 2007 attempt to re-invent itself as a modern, David Cameron-imitating right-liberal party flopped epically; given that they’re still mostly old corrupt oligarchs.

      The so-called “left block” of the PSB, PDT and PCdoB did well, winning 77 seats overall. With the PT’s 88 seats, this so-called left has 165 seats. However, the balance of power remains in the hand of the fisiológicos, these corrupt opportunistic parties which will support any government. They were heavily involved in the mensalão scandal, and they all supported Lula’s predecessors without any second thoughts. This block, composed of the PMDB, PP, PR and PTB have 182 seats overall. Therefore, if Serra wins, it is not hard to conceive this bulk of 180 some members jumping over the fence to be allied with Serra. A French-style cohabitation would never happen in Brazil.

      The Greens won only one seat more than they held at dissolution (and 2 more than in 2006), showing that Marina’s wave was largely confined to the presidential election (though independent PV candidates did decently well for third parties in some senate and gubernatorial races). The PSOL also kept its three seats, including a strong vote for Chico Alencar (PSOL-RJ) in Rio, who took 240,724 votes (second highest vote in the state) and allowed his colleague Jean Wyllys (PSOL-RJ) to win as well, with only 13,018 votes. The PSOL’s deputies are known for being honest and competent deputies, thus their big wins (overall) are not surprising. In the RJ Legislative Assembly, state deputy Marcelo Freixo (PSOL-RJ) was reelected with 177,253 votes, the second highest in the state. Marcelo Freixo is a key enemy of drug cartels and gangs in the state, cartels which have put his head on their “to kill” list.

      The top vote getter in 2010 is Tiririca (PR-SP), the clown, who won 1,353,820 votes. He still needs to pass a literacy test before he can actually become a deputy, but his high vote is a good reflection of the use of celebrities by parties, like the PR, to boost their vote. Undoubtedly, Tiririca was a big boost for the PR. Second most voted in Brazil is Anthony Garotinho (PR-RJ) who won 694,862 votes. Garotinho, former governor of Rio, is a big evangelical figure who enjoys attention, staging a hunger strike which he himself later broke because he was hungry (he’s fat, no wonder). He’s also far more of a celebrity than a competent congressman.

      Big names elected include 1994 selecão star Romário (PSB-RJ) – in the RJ Legislative Assembly, Bebeto (PDT-RJ), another 1994 star, was also elected. Former goalkeeper Danrlei (PTB-RS) was also elected. Big defeats include former PT president José Genoíno (PT-SP), Senator Serys (PT-MT), and Leonel Brizola’s grandson Brizola Neto (PDT-RJ) was not re-elected.

      Overall, 46.4% of the deputies in this legislature are new. That is a unusually high rate, though it was also high in 2006. Congressmen are unpopular in Brazil and people are increasingly angry over corruption scandals involving congressmen, more so than in the past.

      Overall, 63 deputies and 3 senators are evangelicals, which as a block makes it the third largest “party” in the Chamber behind only the PT and PMDB. The evangelicals had suffered in 2006 because a lot of their incumbents were in the mensalão, ambulance leeches scandals. They have already announced they would block legislation which goes against “biblical values” like abortion.

      Latvia 2010

      A general election to Latvia’s 100-seat Saeima was held on October 2. Latvia is one of the countries worst hit by the recession, seeing its GDP recede by a full 18% in 2009. Its government, has, as a result, implemented shock treatment including big cuts in public sector wages, cuts in spending; a fiscal adjustment equivalent to around 14% of the GDP. Some people had predicted that the government would suffer at the polls for this policy, and that the five-party government led by Valdis Dombrovskis would lose votes.

      Valdis Dombrovskis, a keen 39-year technocrat, has managed his way well since he took office in 2009, replacing Ivars Godmanis, an older politician who was forced to resign amidst economic mismanagement and big protests in the country. Ivars Godmanis represented the interests of old oligarchs conglomerated within the People’s Party (TP), and, today, in the “For a Good Latvia” coalition. This election, “For a Good Latvia” showered money on the voters and bought the country’s biggest independent newspaper. TP had topped the poll in 2006, winning nearly 20% of the vote.

      Valdis Dombrovskis is at the helm of a more modern centre-right coalition named “Unity”, the largest party of which is the New Era party but also includes the Civic Union, a new party which topped the poll in the 2009 European election in the country.

      Latvia’s population is around 28% Russian, with most Russians living in Riga (which is around 43% Russian) and in areas in the southeast of the country. The status of the Russian language (which is officially a foreign language in Latvia) as well as Russian-language education is a major factor behind two ethnic Russian parties, the largest of which is the Harmony Centre, a vaguely centre-left and generally moderate party backed heavily by Russian voters. It won 19.6% of the votes in the 2009 European elections. A smaller parties, For Human Rights in a United Latvia (PCTVL), which is more left-wing, won 19% in the 2002 elections but fell to 6% in 2006. The Harmony Centre is already in power at the local level in Riga, but it remains excluded from national coalitions given the political risks of associating with an ethnic Russian party.

      Valdis Dombrovskis’ coalition includes two smaller coalitions, the largest of which is the Union of Greens and Farmers, which won 16.7% of the vote in 2006. The party, composed of a larger centrist agrarian party and a much smaller green party, is much more of an “agrarian” party than a “green” party per se. Indeed, most of its votes come from rural areas of western Latvia. The second block in the coalition is the nationalist National Alliance, which includes the For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK, which is nationalist and economically liberal. It has usually been strong in Riga, where the big Russian minority has likely caused polarization between Latvians and Russians, but its strength has fallen off a bit there.

      Here are the results:

      Unity 31.22% winning 33 seats (+8)
      Harmony Centre 26.04% winning 29 seats (+11)
      Union of Greens and Farmers 19.68% winning 22 seats (+4)
      National Alliance 7.67% winning 8 seats (+3)
      For a Good Latvia 7.65% winning 8 seats (-18)
      PCTVL 1.43% winning 0 seats (-5)

      The incumbent government won a strong majority of 63 out of 100 seats, and the senior coalition increased its seat share considerably. However, the big vote for the Harmony Centre has been a source of concern for some Latvian coalitions, given that the party seems to be able to attract votes from ethnic Latvians unhappy with largely centre-right “Latvian parties”. Harmony Centre could try to woo the Greens and Farmers into a coalition with them (it has a narrow majority of 51 seats). To prevent this, Dombrovskis could try to offer the Harmony Centre a deal himself, accepting them into his coalition while kicking out the slightly unpleasant right-wing National Alliance.  A government must be formed before November 2, and a continuation of the incumbent coalition government is most likely. Their next step will be to work on a budget, which will include more cuts and new tax hikes to meet a deficit target of 6% of GDP and later working to meet conditions to adopt the Euro by 2014.

      Election Preview: Brazil 2010

      Brazil’s mega-election, which has received a fair share of attention recently, is tomorrow. While tomorrow is only the first round, it seems likely that all the important races will be determined tomorrow.

      My guide to tomorrow’s election includes information on the presidential contest, key downballot races as well as information on the political parties and the country’s political history since the 1800s. Instead of repeating what has been said about the election in the guide, here’s a rundown of the key races to watch tomorrow:

      The presidential contest is the big race, but it’s also one of the least interesting. Indeed, the only question which is unanswered about this race is whether Dilma Rousseff (PT), Lula’s handpicked successor, will be crowned in the first round or if she’ll need to wait a few weeks until the runoff to be crowned. However, in the last few days, Dilma’s numbers have come down some while Marina Silva and José Serra’s numbers got a slight boost. One trend noted by Ibope is that evangelicals (20% of the population) are moving away from Dilma towards Marina (an evangelical herself) and Serra after Dilma made comments which could be interpreted as being pro-choice. Marina Silva could likely get one of the best ever results for Greens in the Americas and up there with top European green showings.

      Here is a rundown of other races which will be interesting to watch come election day:

      Alagoas (Governor): A perfect three-way contest featuring the incumbent Governor, a former Governor and a former President/Governor. The race is too close to call and will end up in a runoff, but it remains to be seen which of the three top contenders will get the spots in the runoff.

      Minas Gerais (Governor): Incumbent PSDB governor Antonio Anastasia has surged ahead of the PMDB’s Hélio Costa in recent weeks, and could win the gubernatorial contest of the second most populous state of Brazil by the first round. The race, as noted before, is a contest between the candidates of Brazil’s two most popular politicians: Lula and Governor Aécio Neves.

      Paraná (Governor): Polls have showed that the race between two local heavyweights, former mayor Beto Richa (PSDB) and Senator Osmar Dias (PDT) has gotten a lot closer recently. Will Osmar Dias be able to close the gap with Beto Richa in a polarized contest which will likely be decided by the first round?

      Pernambuco (Governor): In his 2006 re-election bid, Aécio Neves in MG won 77% of the vote by the first round. Can Eduardo Campus come to beat that score, a feat which would be tremendous considering that his main opponent isn’t a joke paper candidate?

      The Senate has a lot of interesting contests shaping up, but one thing to look at nationally is how the parties hold up. The Democrats could be facing a rout of sorts in the Nordeste, where some of their top incumbents are at risk of losing.

      Of the 54 seats up for re-election; 14 are held by the PMDB, 10 by the PSDB, 8 by the Democrats, 7 by the PT, 4 by the PDT, 3 by the PR, 2 by the PTB, 2 by the PRB, 1 by the PSOL, 1 by the PV, 1 by the PSC and 1 by the PSB.

      Alagoas (Senate): A close contest between former Senator Heloísa Helena (PSOL)  and deputy Benedito de Lira (PP) is shaping up, though Senator Renan Calheiros (PMDB), despite his fall from grace in the 2007 Renangate scandal, does not seem in danger of losing.

      Bahia (Senate): You’ve got three main candidates fighting it out for two seats, and it’s really down to the wire. Incumbent Senator César Borges (PR) could lose outright or could fall in second place (and still win) behind either Walter Pinheiro (PT) or Lídice (PSB).

      Minas Gerais (Senate): While it isn’t per se a very interesting race, the presence of two heavyweight candidates: former Governor Aécio Neves (PSDB) and former President Itamar Franco (PPS) makes this contest quite interesting. It will be interesting to watch how close the PT’s Fernando Pimentel is able to get to Itamar.

      Pernambuco (Senate): The contest hasn’t received as much press as it should, given that a long-time incumbent and old conservative oligarch Marco Maciel (DEM), who is also a former Vice President, could be going down to defeat quickly against two left-wing candidates. Such a defeat would be a significant highlight in the continuing rout of the old conservative oligarchy in the region.

      Rio de Janeiro (Senate): Former Rio mayor and old politico César Maia (DEM) was originally the favourite, but he has been the main victim of the PT’s Lindberg Farias late surge. He seems to be on track to lose quite badly, while Lindberg Farias could outpoll incumbent Senator Marcelo Crivella (PRB), a gospel singer and favourite of the evangelical churches.

      São Paulo (Senate): Will black singer and TV host Netinho de Paula (PCdoB) outpoll former mayor Marta Suplicy (PT), or will one of them fall behind the PSDB’s Aloysio Nunes, who has gathered strength in the last days of the campaign?

      The races for the Chamber of Deputies are way too plentiful for there to be rundown, but things to look out for will be which candidate garners the most votes nationwide (likely a Paulista), which incumbents lose and how the party lines evolve in the Chamber.

      Brazilian elections always feature weird candidates, ranging from actual clowns to famous lookalikes to futbol stars to strippers. Such clownish candidates in 2010 include clown Tiririca (PR-SP), Obama Brasil (PTB-SP), Jeferson Camillo (PP-SP) – whose campaign ad shows him about to have sex, tough-on-crime and tough-on-yellow-ducks Delegado Waldir (PSDB-GO), stripper Mulher Melão (PHS-RJ) and gay soldier Claudio Rocha (PCdoB-RJ).