Michael Darden – Brazil Institute , 12/18/2012
As the administration of President Dilma Rousseff struggles to reverse the trend of declining rates of economic growth in an adverse global scenario, Brazil’s domestic outlook in 2013 will be impacted by the consequences of two major political events – municipal elections that took place in October and the Federal Supreme Tribunal’s unprecedented hearings of the largest political corruption trial in the country’s history, which concluded with guilty verdicts for 25 of the 37 people indicted. On November 20th, the Brazil Institute convened a panel of experts to analyze and give insight into the landmark events and assess political and social outcomes for the upcoming year.
David Fleischer, professor emeritus at the University of Brasilia, offered an overview of the elections of mayors and city council members in Brazil’s 5,568 municipalities and analyzed trends that emerged from the polls. In the first round of vote held on October 7 the turnout of over 140 million was 7.2 percent higher that of the previous elections held in 2008. The number of female candidates running for office also increased in the mayoral campaigns by 2.5 percent over a four year period, resulting in more women mayors in Brazil. Compared to 503 females that were elected in 2008, 674 will take office on January 1, 2013, or 12.2 percent of all mayoral positions. However, there was a significant decline in the number of female city council members elected, falling from 8.9 percent of the total in 2008 to 5.2 percent in 2012.
Another trend noticed by Fleischer, as well by other speakers, is the continued electability of incumbents. A majority, 67.5 percent, of mayors running for reelection in the largest cities were given another term. Within parties, 75 percent of those elected belong to seven parties, six of which have dominated mayoral races since 1996. The rise of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), led by the outgoing mayor of São Paulo Gilberto Kassab, was seen as not significant politically, since most of its members came out of the Democrats, formerly the Party of the Liberal Front, which has declined.