Brazilians expressed their disenchantment and frustration on Sunday’s municipal elections punishing parties involved in the major corruption schemes and political disputes as the country’s economy has plunged into the worst economic recession almost a century including the loss of millions of jobs.
The elections were the first in Brazil since former President Dilma Rousseff was impeached and thrown out of office in August. Meanwhile, the incumbent Workers Party, PT, founder, ex president Lula, and Rousseff’s mentor, is facing corruption charges.
Amid a resounding nationwide defeat PT lost control of the São Paulo city hall and results in Rio de Janeiro were mixed, with a runoff election in the offing. In São Paulo PT mayor, Fernando Haddad, was ousted by João Doria, of the centrist PSDB, who obtained some 53% of the vote.
In Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Crivella of the conservative Brazilian Republican Party (PRB) won a plurality, albeit of just 28%, and will have to go up against leftist PSOL Marcelo Freixo, who garnered 18%.
PT lost four of the five state capitals it had run, including São Paulo, the country’s economic powerhouse where the leftist party was born. The PT lost two-thirds of the municipalities it won in 2012, dropping to 10th place from third in the number of mayors controlled by each party.
Temer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, lost its longtime hold over the cash-strapped city of Rio de Janeiro, which just held what many considered a successful Olympics.
Instead, conservative evangelical preacher, Senator Marcelo Crivella, will face a runoff against Marcelo Freixo of the Socialism and Liberty Party, or PSOL, a leftist breakaway from the PT, to decide who leads Rio.
The first elections since Rousseff was removed from office were a test of support for Brazil’s main political parties as they prepare for the 2018 presidential race.
Doria’s victory in São Paulo will bolster a likely bid in 2018 by the PSDB governor of the state, Geraldo Alckmin. The PSDB was also ahead in the country’s third-largest city, Belo Horizonte.
Sunday’s elections were the first held under a ban on corporate campaign financing that was meant to clean up Brazilian politics following the scandal surrounding state-controlled oil company Petrobras that has ensnared dozens of top executives and powerful political figures.
But the new rules, which reduced campaign financing by two-thirds from the presidential election in 2014, instead helped wealthy candidates who were using their personal funds, such as Doria, and candidates backed by Brazil’s rapidly expanding evangelical churches.