Paulo Sotero – Financial Times, 10/19/2012
Democracy is not for the faint-hearted… It requires hard work, constant attention, takes a lot of time to build and can easily be undermined by political polarization, regressive campaign finance rules and deficient laws on political representation. This month, two major events shed light on both the successes and failings of Brazil’s quarter century old, vibrant democracy.
On October 7, municipal elections brought over 115m voters to the polls to elect mayors and councilors in 5,568 cities and towns. A few days later, the country’s Supreme Court returned guilty verdicts in the largest trial of political corruption in Brazilian history.
The municipal elections were the first since the adoption of a new law barring candidates with criminal records. Cast in electronic ballot boxes, votes were tallied and results were published four hours after voting booths closed. There were no legal challenges. In 50 municipalities, including 17 of the 26 states capitals, where no candidate cleared the absolute majority of 50 per cent plus one, the two top candidates will go into a second round on October 28. The top prize is São Paulo, Brazil’s economic capital and home to the country’s third largest public budget.