The Brazilian electorate has confirmed in this Sunday’s elections its return to the more traditional politics, the same one that it gave a resounding slap two years ago when it elevated Jair Bolsonaro and his anti-establishment speech to the presidency. Voters have bet in this second round of municipal elections for the center right and continuity. Anti-Bolsonaro alliances have worked. The president, Jair Bolsonaro, has suffered a painful defeat in Rio de Janeiro, his political fiefdom, and where his sponsored person has lost by almost 30 points. The Workers’ Party (PT) has not managed to save its honor either because its candidate in the only capital it was contesting has been defeated.
Almost 60 cities elected this Sunday, with a record abstention of 29%, their councilors and councilors, including the two most important, in a battle that is decided mainly by local issues, but which allows a glimpse of some national dynamics. Bolsonaro has suffered a humiliating defeat in Rio de Janeiro, the city where he has his most entrenched electoral base. But as specialists warn, that does not imply that Bolsonarism is going to disappear.
Eduardo Paes, from the center right, has evicted the current mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the evangelical Marcelo Crivella, after just one term and despite the explicit support of Bolsonaro. Paes, who has won with 64% against 36% of his adversary, is an old acquaintance who has won on the back of a broad anti-Bolsonaro front that has brought together from the right to the ultra-left. His victory marks a return to a position he held for two terms including the Olympic years.
In São Paulo, the current mayor, Bruno Covas, of the center-right, has been re-elected. Covas, who in the last year has had to face the pandemic and cancer, has won with force (20 points) to the leftist Guilherme Boulos, who has been the surprise of this campaign. The triumph of Covas is an accolade for his Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) that was practically swept away in the previous legislatures. “We are going to rule for everyone. As of tomorrow there will be no blue and red district, there is the city of São Paulo ”, declared Covas after the victory. He also thanked his rival for “the good fight.” Retaining the main city of the country is important for the next presidential elections, in 2022.
The leftist Boulos, an activist and professor, has managed to lead the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), a split from the PT and the formation in which the murdered Marielle Franco was active, until the second round in the richest city in Brazil.
In any case, the leftist PSOL has managed to take over the mayoralty of a capital, Belém de Pará, which the PT has not achieved. It is one more indication of how this small party with little territorial power has broken the traditional hegemony of the PT on the Brazilian left.
The only candidate of the PT in this second round, Marília Arraes, was defeated in Recife in the duel that had aroused the most curiosity because she had fought with a cousin of hers, João Campos. Both dispute the leadership of the family political clan. The party of former president Lula da Silva has also lost in the rest of the most important cities that it disputed.
The count has been quick, unlike the first round when there was a four-hour delay and the Superior Electoral Court system was hacked. Brazilians have been voting for decades in electronic ballot boxes that are distributed throughout the country, which allows the vote to be completed in a few hours.
Bolsonaro, who has voted at a school in Rio de Janeiro, has once again called for a change in the system to have the vote printed after suggesting that there was fraud in the United States elections, as his admired Donald Trump maintains. “I have my sources, and they tell me that there was a lot of fraud there. If it was enough to change the result, I don’t know that anymore ”, he said.
The coronavirus, which has killed more than 170,000 Brazilians, has largely marked these municipalities that the pandemic forced to delay. As hospitalizations increase, voters have had to go to vote with a mask and their own pen. But in addition, the results largely represent an endorsement of the confinement measures adopted by local managers to curb infections. Covas, mayor of São Paulo, and especially the governor João Doria, his political godfather, have had a very tough confrontation with the president on account of how to manage the health crisis. Bolsonaro has succeeded in politicizing virtually every aspect of the pandemic. First, he tried to sabotage social distancing measures, then he promoted unproven drugs and now he casts doubts on vaccines and has announced that he does not plan to immunize himself.
The covid has dramatically marked the elections in Goiania, a capital near Brasilia, because the winning mayor is hospitalized and intubated for complications derived from the disease.
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