Brazilians called to the polls for municipal elections disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic

These are atypical to say the least, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which could limit the participation. The Brazilians vote on Sunday, November 15, and this election should confirm the clear shift to the right started with the election, two years ago, of President Jair Bolsonaro and strengthen the traditional parties.

In Sao Paulo, no queue was visible in front of the polling stations, which opened at 7 a.m. (local time, 12 p.m. in Paris) and allocated a priority time slot to the elderly, more likely to contract a form severe Covid-19 disease.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has already claimed more than 165,000 lives in the country, had forced the authorities to postpone the vote, initially scheduled for October.

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Strict health measures have been taken for this election in which 148 million Brazilians are called to participate, wearing masks without exception and encouraged to bring their own pen. “There are few people in the polling station”, declared the artist Mauricio Pereira after submitting his bulletin, it is “Surely because of the pandemic, the campaign was very different”.

The campaign for the election of 5,569 mayors and their municipal councilors took place mainly on social networks and very little in the field. These municipal elections, the result of the first round of which is expected on Sunday around 10 p.m. (2 a.m. in Paris), constitute the first electoral test for Mr. Bolsonaro’s mid-term.

“It’s a historic election and I think the PT [Parti des travailleurs] will come out very strengthened (…) and that we are going to win a lot of cities ”, said ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, co-founder of PT (left), after voting in Sao Bernardo do Campo, south of Sao Paulo.

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Progression of the right

Mr. Bolsonaro had announced that he would not get involved in a primarily local campaign. However, he has multiplied, during the past week, the direct on Facebook to support his candidates in order to“Eradicate communism”. Support from the far-right president described as “Kiss of death” by editorialists as his foals are in bad shape. Thus, the former neopentecostal pastor Marcelo Crivella, outgoing mayor of Rio de Janeiro, is well ahead of his predecessor Eduardo Paes (2009-2016) and is not guaranteed to qualify for the second round, on November 29. The same goes for TV presenter Celso Russomanno in Sao Paulo, the largest city in the country, where center-right mayor Bruno Covas should be re-elected with flying colors.

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Mr. Bolsonaro still enjoying the support of 40% of Brazilians, analysts are still counting on a new conservative wave, with the election of candidates for the security discourse, including many ex-soldiers, and a strengthening of the traditional right-wing parties : MDB, PSD, PP and DEM. “We should see a consolidation of what we saw in 2018, with a progression of right-wing or center-right parties”, says Oswaldo Amaral, political scientist at the University of Campinas.

However, it will be difficult to draw national lessons from this election for the president, who is no longer affiliated with a party since he left, last year, the Social-Liberal Party (PSL), his ninth party in thirty years of political career. “Bolsonaro is the first president without a party at the time of the municipal elections since the return of democracy [en 1985], so it will be complicated to do the accounts to know if it is a victory or a defeat ” for his camp, believes Felipe Nunes, political scientist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

Gains on the left

The left, while remaining very divided, could record significant gains. The “Lula” PT suffered the worst defeat in its history in 2016, with the loss of more than 60% of the municipalities conquered in the previous election.

Manuela d’Avila, of the Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B.), is well placed to kidnap the city of Porto Alegre. The left is also in a favorable position in Recife, Fortaleza or Belem, according to the polls. She could also have chances of reaching the second round in Sao Paulo, with Guilherme Boulos, of the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL).

The World with AFP


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