Brazil: An Analysis of the Election Results for Mayor and Councilors in Brazil 2016

By Corrente Comunista Revolucionária (CCR, Brazil Section of the RCIT), 04 November 2016,




After the close of the polls in the first round of the 2016 municipal elections in Brazil, the results are predictable: in almost every city right-wing parties were victorious and almost all left-wing parties faced losses. However, one additional factor must be taken into consideration: There was a considerable increase of in voters not going to the polls, along with a significant increase of the number of blank ballots cast or ballots which were nulified. Electronic ballots which were nullified are those in which the voter entered and confirmed a non-existent number (for instance 00) for a candidate in the voting machine. Blank votes are those in which the voter selects the “none” box on the ballot. Both blank and nullified votes are invalidated. As voting is mandatory in Brazil (citizens who do not vote are fined), those who are elected to positions for mayor, governor and president are the candidates who receive more than half of the valid votes.


The advance of conservative and reactionary forces in Brazil, which led to the impeachment of former president Dilma Roussef, also had their effect on the timing of the elections. The electoral campaigns were reduced from 90 to just 45 days. The legal leftists parties, like the PSOL PSTU, and PCO, had their free time on television reduced to just a few seconds. Obviously, the stronger traditional right-wing parties like the PMDB, PSDB, DEM, have more financial resources and therefore more paid television time, giving them a tremendous and unfair advantage. In addition, the demonization of the “Partido do Trabalhadores” (PT) Worker’s Party since 2014, with the phony fight against its corruption, incurred collateral damage that negatively impacted all parties and groups considered to be leftists, socialists, or progressives. Today, in the streets of the big cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, anyone wearing a simple red T-shirt, even without the logo of the Worker’s Party, is at risk of being assaulted verbally or physically. Social networks are full of anti-communist messages, along with manifestations of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, anti-immigrant, violence against women and LGBT groups.


It is in this context that the right-wing parties gained such significant victories throughout the country in these last elections. The most symbolic example of these victories for the right was the election in the first round of the entrepreneur João Dória of the PSDB, regarded as the Donald Trump of Brazil, who had previously won the Brazilian version of "The Apprentice". Despite his oligarchic origins and not having taken political positions for years, he introduced himself on the campaign trail as "apolitical," emphasizing his success as a businessman, while at the same time he declared himself as representing “João o Trabalhador” ( John the worker). The detail which is of particular interest here is that even having received in the first round of the mayoral election for São Paulo 34.72% of the valid votes, João Doria’s votes still fell behind the number of abstentions, blank and nullified ballots, which reached an all time high of 34.84%. This means that more than a third of the electorate of the city of São Paulo chose not to vote for any candidate. The previous record for that city had been in the elections of 2012, when 28.89% of the electorate did not vote for a candidate.


In the city of São Paulo, the defeated Worker’s Party (PT) incumbent mayor, Fernando Hadadd, who was running for reelection obtained only 17% of the votes. In the large cities neighboring industrial São Paulo, which form the largest industrial concentration in South America and was the birthplace of the PT, and which up to now has been regarded as a “red belt,” there were significant losses of Lula da Silva’s party, for example in São Bernardo do Campo and Diadema. Nationwide, the PT received the fewest number of votes since its founding in the late 1980s, winning only 255 of 638 mayoral elections, which represents a loss of 40% compared to the last municipal elections of 2012.


Unlike the PT, the PSOL, with less organizational structure, is slowly growing. PSOL will participate in the second round of elections (on November 30) in two state capitals: Belém do Pará with the PSOL candidate being Edmilson Rodrigues and in Rio de Janeiro with Marcelo Freixo; this party will also contend in the second round of elections in the large city of Sorocaba, São Paulo. Regarding candidates for membership in the municipal councils of the country, the PSOL won 53 seats this year compared to 49 in 2012. However, this small growth was accompanied by the party’s having elect the greatest number of council members in capital cities like Belem, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre. The assessment of PSOL party leaders, however, is that these results were "a minor victory snatched from the jaws of a major defeat," in light of the significant growth of parties which supported the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. Juliano Medeiros, President of the Foundation Lauro Campos, who is tied to the PSOL, stated: "We have enlarged our size is a great deal. The conservative parties were on the offensive; they rose again to be protagonist after the impeachment." “For the parties of the left, as a whole, the results were bad, but the PSOL isn’t leaving the campaign defeated, and even grew in absolute numbers," said Pedro Ekman, who was responsible for the electoral campaign of Edmilson Rodrigues in Belem and of Luiza Erundina (PSOL’s mayoral candidate for the city of São Paulo). "We're an oasis in an otherwise rapid advancement of the right-wing."


The PCO (Party of Workers’ Cause) made an effort to denounce what happened in Brazil during the last couple of years, with the impeachment of Dilma Roussef, as a coup d'état, claiming that for a few months already we’ve been living under a illegitimate regime and warning about pending neoliberal reforms of the government of interim president Michel Temer. The free propaganda time of that the PCO received on television amounted to only 6 seconds a day. This measly time wouldn’t even be sufficient for the world’s fastest sprinter, Usain Bolt, to run a 100 meter dash.


The disastrous policy of the PSTU in supporting the coup d’état and chanting in the streets the slogan "Fora Todos!" (ALL of them out!) had its price. Even before the elections they lost more than 600 activists, and with the elections they saw their only council member, Amanda Gurgel, elected in 2012, lose her seat, even though she received a good number of votes. With it bankrupt policy, the PSTU failed engaging many thousands who took to the streets against the impeachment, and gave even more strength to the slogan of the reactionary right in the process of depoliticizing the electoral process. The future trend of the PSTU after its split is undoubtedly an increasing drift towards the centrist PSOL.


Our CCR candidacy, within the PCO, maintained its coherent revolutionary stance which maintains that, within a bourgeois democracy, elections are an illusion. Throughout our entire electoral campaign we denounced election under capitalism as nothing more than a farce, and called upon the working class and the oppressed to organize independently in committees in their neighborhoods and workplaces. We repeatedly warned that, in the context of a coup d'état, elections would be even more controlled by big bourgeoisie than ever, and that it was necessary for the workers and oppressed to mobilize forces against the austerity packages that are and will be introduced by the government of Michel Temer. In short, we took advantage of the electoral campaign as an opportunity to denounce the elections as an illusion before the working class.


* For the mobilization of autonomous worker resistance and the convening of a national constituent assembly!


* For an unlimited general strike against the regime of putschists! For mass mobilization against the offensive pro-austerity policies of the extreme right! For the setting up of action committees in factories, unions, neighborhoods, slums and outlying regions in defense of our rights and against the government of putschists!


* For a national conference of delegates of all mass anti-putschist organizations to discuss and adopt a plan against the new regime!


* For a working class government in alliance with the peasants, urban poor and the landless! We can only guarantee our future and our rights if we bring down capitalism, the source of our misery!