In the second round of Brazil’s municipal elections, parties close to President Bolsonaro lost – and conservatives won.
In Sao Paulo, incumbent Bruno Covas (center) prevailed in the mayoral runoff election Photo: Roberto Casimiro/imago
The dream of many leftists was shattered shortly after 7 p.m. when the election results from Sao Paulo were broadcast on television. It was the dream that Latin America’s largest city would be ruled by a socialist in the future.
Guilherme Boulos, a homeless activist and politician from the socialist PSOL, was in the running against the incumbent mayor of the right-wing PSDB, Bruno Covas, in the runoff for the highest office in the mega-metropolis. The two, and this is important to emphasize in the Brazil of 2020, had fought a tough but civilized electoral duel. In the end, the result was clear and Covas won with almost 60 percent of the vote.
Covas, who is considered a moderate in his party, promised a government of balance and moderation in his victory speech. By video message, the defeated Boulos spoke out from his small house in the outskirts of Sao Paulo that very evening.
His campaign, declared the politician, who suffers from Covid-19, has shown a way to the future and has won, even though the election was lost. And indeed, the fact that the socialist reached the runoff alone was a success.
His campaign inspired many young voters, he succeeded in forging a broad alliance, and many prominent artists supported him. And Boulos won a majority in many poor districts – where the left had recently had difficulties scoring points. Not a few are trading the charismatic 38-year-old as a presidential candidate for the 2022 election.
Record poll ratings for Bolsonaro
On Sunday, Brazilians* were called to vote in runoff elections for mayor*ships in 57 cities. At the end of a long day, the tendency of the first round was confirmed and in particular the traditional center-right parties recorded victories – those forces that had crashed in the 2018 presidential election.
In the southern Brazilian port city of Porto Alegre, center-right politician Sebastiao Melo prevailed over Manuela d’avila, candidate of social-democratic orientation Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB). In Rio de Janeiro, conservative former mayor Eduardo Paes won by a huge margin over incumbent Marcelo Crivella. The ultra-right pastor had enjoyed the support of President Jair Bolsonaro during the election campaign.
Pro-Bolsonaro candidates also crashed in many other cities. On Sunday, for example, the right-wing radical’s otherwise busy Twitter profile remained conspicuously quiet. However, the local elections are not a yardstick for the 2022 presidential election. Brazil’s party system is too complex for that, election decisions too personalized, and local politics too far removed from the capital BrasIlia. It is no contradiction that President Bolsonaro is currently posting record poll ratings.
Meanwhile, in Brazil’s parliament, only 15 percent are female deputies
In the northern Brazilian city of Belem, PSOL candidate Edmilson Rodrigues celebrated a respectable victory with his election win. However, the socialist party, which was founded in 2004 by renegade politicians from the PT, is increasingly outstripping the PT. With a few exceptions in the industrial belt of Sao Paulo, the latter continued its downward trend. The party of the popular ex-president Lula did not win any of the 26 state capitals for the first time since re-democratization in 1985. A disaster for the party.
And the election had even more losers: women. In only one of the 26 state capitals did a woman prevail. Meanwhile, only 15 percent of Brazilian parliamentarians are women – the lowest figure in Latin America.