Election in Sí£o Paulo, Brazil: Who Cares More for the Poor?

Marta Suplicy (PT) has laid out part of her second round strategy: she’s going to attack José Serra (PSDB) in the poorest areas of the city and present herself as their champion ”“ areas which should be hers anyway.

She’s also trying to make common cause with motorcyclists  by attending a meeting of 1500 of them in the east of the city. Marta was accompanied by her son, Supla, and had to listen to the complaints levelled against her, including her tax on motoboys, or couriers.

Later she showed that the ghost of Paulo Maluf (PP) had not yet departed the stage. After his party signed on to Marta’s re-election bid, the current mayor took onboard one of his main policy ideas in the first round and has done a havaianas (flip-flop) when she promised to stop the tax on motoboys.

But where you give with one hand you take with the other. As taxes on motorcyclists go down, taxes on services will go up. I wonder who will complain now.

Serra, as you might imagine, is a little annoyed. After saying he’s been in favour of its repeal, she’s gone and pulled the carpet from under him. What can he offer?

Perhaps he hopes the internal grumbles within the left might make voters pause before casting for Marta. Heloí­sa Helena, a senator who was expelled from the PT earlier this year, has been protesting about the direction the party is taking.

Then again, without people like Heloí­sa, people might think the PT more electable. Looks like its back to the drawing board for Serra.

Circling the Wagons

The PT’s think tank has put the position of the party on the line. According to the Periscópio bulletin put out by the Fundação Perseu Abramo, the second round in São Paulo will determine ‘the brightness of the PT star’ (a reference to the party symbol) and ‘will decide the political fight and transformation from neoliberalism to a republican paradigm over the next years.’

The think tank believes the rise of the PSDB in the first round can be attributed to an aggressive campaign and an unfavourable media. Indeed, the article suggests that the media has been taking on an almost oppositional role to the government.

Good to see that you can get lefties into government, but the suspicion of the press never goes away.

The One That Got Away

Paulinho (PDT) has signed up to José Serra’s (PSDB) side for the second round. He made his statement on Friday, claiming that ‘The PT has done Brazil badly… We fear them getting even more power.’

Is It Finally Over?

Hopefully, things are all wrapped up now. On Friday President Lula was fined R$50,000 for eulogising his colleague and current São Paulo mayor, Marta Suplicy (PT) at a public event last month.

Lula, speaking in response, said that he knew it was ‘disagreeable’ and that it would ‘always generate polemic’, before grumbling out the following metaphor: ‘in Brazil everyone has a holiday, but not the president.’

As someone who has spent my holidays campaigning, I can assure you, it really isn’t time off. He also made it clear that he will appeal the decision.

Gone Elsewhere

It looks like Duda Mendonça won’t be helping out Marta during the second round. The national PT leadership has contracted him and his marketing team to shore up their campaign in Porto Alegre, where the current petista mayor, Raul Pont, is also facing a second round challenge.

Not Happy

Staying in Rio Grande do Sul state (where the PT establishment has always been slightly further to the left than elsewhere), divisions are opening up within the party.

On Friday the state leadership published a statement condemning the inclusion of the PP in the petista alliance for the second round in São Paulo.

Would this be an inappropriate time to remind readers that Duda Mendonça helped get Paulo Maluf (PP) elected as mayor of the same city back in 1992?

Shady Dealing

But you can sort of see the Gaúcho (inhabitants of Rio Grande do Sul) petistas’ point, if the allegations made on Saturday are true. Yesterday saw an intriguing story in the weekly magazine Isto í‰, which the Folha covered.

The state prosecutors in São Paulo apparently have recordings in their possession, which suggest that a PP councillor, Brasil Vita, supposedly tried to help dress up a testimony which would have prejudiced Serra’s chances.

Three weeks before the first round of voting a meeting between the former city council president, Armando Mellão and Vita took place.

In March of this year Mellão was arrested by the Federal Police on the charge of extortion. Freed after 49 days he said he was the victim of a malufista plot and made a statement to the prosecutors accusing Maluf of having diverted millions of dollars in public funds ”“ a charge that Maluf denies.

However, according to the supposed recordings, Mellão and Vita discuss making a press statement that the charges against Maluf were false and that he had received money from Serra to attack him. The tapes apparently suggest that Vita discussed the deal with Maluf before approaching Mellão.

Criminal prosecutors have asked Maluf and Vita to make statements next Wednesday. Both of them are being investigated for possible administrative abuses.

Latest Figures

Datafolha’s first poll of the second round shows that Serra is leading Marta by a 12 gap margin, by 51% to 39%. Ten percent of the electorate haven’t yet made up their minds. For once the polls seem broadly in line: before the first round the last analysis suggested that Serra had 51% and Marta 40%.

But Marta has had a bit of bad luck since the first round: she failed to get Luiza Erundina’s (PSB) direct support and then heard the PMDB was going to be ‘independent’ while the PDT has plumped for Serra.

Even more unfortunately for Marta, her rejection level is far higher than that for Serra: the poll shows that 42% wouldn’t vote for her compared to 29% for Serra. Ninety-one percent of the electorate has made up his or her mind how they will vote.

For more information and analysis of the São Paulo and other local Brazilian results, visit the election blog being run by Guy Burton and Andrew Stevens at www.saopaulo2004.blogspot.com.


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