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Brazilian Elections: Initial Assessment of the First Round

The Brazilian Left had the best electoral result in its history: Dilma in first place; governors in Rio Grande do Sul, Bahia, Pernambuco, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Sergipe, and Acre; good chances in the Federal District; chances also in Pará; an impressive clean-up and renovation with a big bench in the Senate; a further increase in parliamentary seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

Frustration is due to the expectation, created by opinion polls, of an eventual victory in the first round of the presidential elections.  A more precise analysis is necessary, beginning with a very high number of abstentions as well as null and blank votes, which, added up, exceeded a quarter of the electorate.  Plus the effects of the defamation campaign — about abortion, the struggle against the dictatorship, etc. — as well as the practical effect of the Erenice case in reducing the final result of Dilma.

The Marina vote is certainly an influential factor.  Reading the Marina voters is complex.  It’s far from an ecological wave in Brazil — votes for other Greens were negligible.  It’s a combination of various things: from Green votes, Left-Lite, to even anti-Dilma votes and votes of those disenchanted with Serra, among other things.  But their large number requires a more detailed analysis.

For the second round, these votes count: more than half are concentrated in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais, in addition to the Federal District, where Marina came in first place.  Whatever the decision may be regarding support in the second round — the convening of assemblies to decide should confirm the tendency to abstention, making the political operation of the party leadership to support Serra more difficult — these voters, to a large degree, won’t be guided by a political party’s decision, remaining available to the other candidate.  In 2006, not even the PSol managed to get its voters not to vote for other candidates, defying the guidance to vote blank.

It’s an illusion to think that the second round is a different election.  It’s a continuation of the first round, under new conditions of bipolarization.  The campaign has to be directly led by Lula, has to center on the comparison of the FHC and Lula administrations, has to have a specific strategy for the Marina voters, and has to multiply rallies and other mass events — a key differentiator between the two candidacies.

In 2006, the second round was very important in drawing a clearer contrast between the PT and the Toucans, and the same has to happen now.  May Lula multiply mobilizations and votes, to make the victory of Dilma more powerful.  She is the favorite, but we have to be on our guard against the maneuvers of our adversaries, the use of the press, and defamation campaigns.

A polarized second round can also become clearer because the debates diluted the issues to the extent that there was a chorus of three candidates putting emphasis on denunciations.  We couldn’t focus on the fact that Brazil has become less unjust, less unequal, under Lula and that this is the main path to follow.

We’ll address other issues of the first round in other articles.  This is for the purpose of opening a discussion with all.


The original article “Balanço inicial do primeiro turno” was published in the Blog do Emir section of Carta Maior on 4 October 2010.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).  Cf. “Dilma obtained approximately the same percentage of votes that Lula did in the first rounds of the 2002 (46%) and 2006 (47%) presidential elections: nearly 47%” (Martín Granovsky, “Las diez claves de la elección,” Página/12, 4 October 2010).




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