Brazil’s Municipal Elections

While much of the focus yesterday fell on Venezuela’s presidential elections, it was not the only country going to the polls. With municipal elections being held throughout the country yesterday, 138 million Brazilians (many more than Venezuela’s 19 million voters) went to the polls to vote for mayors throughout the country in 5,568 municipalities, choosing from a total of about 450,000 candidates. The elections marked the first under a “clean record” law that prohibits people convicted of a number of serious crimes from running for office for 8 years. The electoral outcomes included the expected, the surprising, and the outright bizarre. Among the outcomes:

  • Eduardo Paes, the incumbent mayor of Rio de Janeiro, avoided a second-round election by winning with more than 64% of the votes, far ahead of runner-up Marcelo Freixo of the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade (Socialism and Liberty Party, PSOL). Paes’s first term started off amid much controversy, as he shut down the little bars and sidewalk businesses that were common and popular in Rio; however, with Rio preparing for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, Paes saw a recent resurgence in his popularity.
  • If the outcome of Rio’s election is unsurprising, the same cannot be said for São Paulo. Going into yesterday, evangelical politician Celso Russomanno seemed to be set for a second-round contest, with a recent poll putting Russomanno at 30% support, well ahead of center-right candidate José Serra’s 22% and the PT’s Fernando Haddad with 18%. However, after the elections, Russomanno finished a distant third, garnering only 22% of the votes for South America’s largest city, well behind Haddad’s 29% and Serra’s 31%. Serra and Haddad will face off in a run-off at the end of the month.
  • Although Freixo lost the Rio de Janeiro election by a significant margin, on the national level, the PSOL (formed in 2004) had some success, as the small city of Itaocara in Rio de Janeiro state became the first municipality to elect a member of PSOL mayor. And in the much larger cities of Belém and Macapá (in the northern states of Pará and Amapá, respectively), PSOL candidates will compete in the runoffs at the end of the month.
  • In other major cities in the country, Porto Alegre in the southern-most state of Rio Grande do Sul re-elected José Fortunati of the Partido Democrático Trabalhista (Democratic Labor Party, PDT), with more than 65% of the vote. And in Recife, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Gerardo Julio of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (Brazilian Socialist Party, PSB) won with 51% of the vote, avoiding a run-off and ending 12 years of mayoral governance from the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party, PT), the national governing party of presidents Lula da Silva (2002-2010) and Dilma Rouseff (2010-present). Other results across the nation are available here (in Portuguese).
  • While most elections went off without a hitch, there were some particularly notable unique events in other parts of the country. In the town of Monte Alegre in Rio Grande do Norte, 98.24% of the ballots cast were null, and the remaining 1.76% were blank, leaving a situation where, out of more than 15,000 ballots cast, neither of the two candidates for mayor received a single vote.
  • Finally, in the small municipality of Itacoatiara in the state of Amazonas, PDT candidate Carme Cristina da Silva Lima was arrested after being caught offering cocaine for votes. Suffice to say, she was not elected.

About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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