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PT’s Spin Doctors to the Rescue of Brazil Elections

On the last day of the election campaign Datafolha published their final poll. José Serra (PSDB) is on 54% and Marta Suplicy (PT) on 46%.

Both have seen their fortunes rise since a previous poll (Serra on 49% and Marta on 42%) which came out on Thursday. Ibope also publishes their final figures, which is exactly the same.


Admittedly, if the figures exclude those likely to spoil their ballots or still as yet completely convinced of their candidate choice, the figures are slightly lower in the Datafolha poll, with Serra on 50% and Marta on 43%.


Bringing in this factor means that Ibope has Serra on 49% and Marta on 41%. But in both cases it’s still an improvement on three days ago.


It still means that Marta will have a lot to do if she’s to close the gap by the end of voting today though.


Reaction


As you can imagine, the PSDB was pleased at the findings while the PT promised to turn it all around at the polls.


When they weren’t doing that the PT was also trying to downplay expectations.


In conversation with journalists, President Lula’s chief-of-staff, José Dirceu, said that what was important wasn’t the second round in São Paulo, but the party’s successes in the first round three weeks ago:


“In the second round the election stops being party-political. The candidates are chosen on a pragmatic basis.”


Getting Around


In terms of actual campaigning on foot, Marta hit the Metro to ask for votes.


Meanwhile Serra went out to the east and south of the city where his rival did well in the first round.


Part of his timetable included eating a feijoada (beans, rice and plenty of pork) at a restaurant in the east of the city.


All in all, a much more preferable way to campaign compared to Marta’s journey by public transport, I think.


Following a good lunch, Serra then took a helicopter with his party colleague and São Paulo state governor, Geraldo Alckmin, to mass in the south of the city.


Which probably gives you some kind of idea what Serra thought of Marta’s own mode of transport during the day…


Lula’s Support


After all the talk about whether Lula would be entering into the São Paulo race, we finally have evidence of this support.


He called Marta yesterday morning to wish her luck. As regular readers will recall, Lula got into hot water earlier this month after the electoral authorities fined him R$50,000 for speaking out of turn and in favour of Marta at a public event in September. Perhaps the phone call was the safest option for all concerned.


But it’s hardly the kind of public endorsement that I suspect most people were expecting.


Still Undecided?


After all the reporting, commentary, TV ads and debates you would think that most people would have made their minds up as to they will vote for.


But that’s not necessarily the case, if you’re looking at the Folha’s web pages this morning. They have profiles of both Marta and Serra for readers to look at, presumably before they walk down to the polls.


But really, you’d have to be either frozen in ice or dead for the last two months not to have noticed the small matter of an election going on…


Numbers, Lovely Numbers


As the polls open this morning, spare a thought for the organisers. Up to 27 million voters will be casting their ballots today in 43 different cities, 15 of which are state capitals.


The PT is running in 36 of these contests with the PSDB in 30. In the first round the PT managed to elect around 400 mayors; the PSDB scored double, with 861.


But the big winner was the PMDB with 1,040 mayors (although many of these are in smaller, less important cities). And in São Paulo state, the PSDB was victorious in 190 cities in the first round; the PT, by contrast, only elected 53.


In today’s elections the PT and the PSDB will be facing each other in 10 out of the 43 contests.


Not Running Smoothly…


But one contest the PT won’t be involved in is in the São Paulo state city of Mauá. At the eleventh hour, the authorities barred the PT’s candidate from facing his Green Party rival in the second round after he was judged to have taken part in some irregular election publicity through a public exhibition on the city’s history.


Last night a protest had brought 10,000 people onto the streets, among them leaders from the industrial belt around São Paulo.


Let’s just hope these contests are all clean and don’t compare to what has apparently happened in the city of Rurópolis in the south of Pará state.


Campaign worker Edvan Abreu de Souza claims that he is in hiding after admitting buying 667 votes for an election coalition which included the PSDB and Paulo Maluf’s PP.


…And Possible Worries Here?


Finally, while the debate about electronic voting rages on in the United States, the electoral authorities will check to make sure that the voting machines in São Paulo are working properly.


This will involve running a process of ‘parallel voting’ at some stations in which electronic votes will be accompanied with paper ballots to ensure there are no mistakes during polling day itself.


Which does beg the question: what happens if the authorities subsequently find out there were irregularities in their test centres? Will it void the election? You can imagine the lawyers licking their lips at the prospect of fat lawsuits to follow.


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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