Electoral warning shot for Jair Bolsonaro

In 2016, the election as mayor of Rio de Janeiro of Pentecostal pastor Marcelo Crivella was more than a political success: it was a symbol. Symbol of the rejection of the Brazilian political class, shaken by a scandal of unprecedented scale. Coming just a few months after the dismissal of President Dilma Rousseff, for makeup of the public accounts, her victory paved the way for the election, two years later, of Jair Bolsonaro at the head of the South American giant.

Four years later, his rout in the second round of the municipal elections, held on Sunday, November 29, with barely more than a third of the votes despite the loyal support of the Head of State, marks the beginning of the ebb of the populist wave in Brazil? Because the trend is national: according to the daily Folha from Sao Paulo,“Of the 63 candidates supported by the president, only 11 municipal councilors and 5 mayors won”. And again, in second-tier cities like Rio Branco, capital of the state of Acre.

In the big cities, where authority and resources are concentrated, the fiasco is total. In Fortaleza, the fifth most populous municipality in the country, Walter Gomes, the president’s protege, has certainly done better than Marcelo Crivella in Rio, but his 48% of the vote was not enough against a center-left candidate, however little known. This scenario also occurred in Belem, capital of Para. In Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo, the presidential candidates bowed heavily in the first round.

Mid-term, and two years before the 2022 presidential election, the setback is serious for the Head of State, without a party since a scandal shook the small formation – the Social-Liberal Party (PSL) – which had allowed him to win the presidency. Especially since the center-right, reduced to the role of spectator during the 2018 presidential election, has taken on color. The various parties in this galaxy performed well on Sunday, retaining important town halls and winning others.

The re-election in Sao Paulo of Bruno Covas, of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), is in particular very good news for the governor of the state, Joao Doria, a former ally of Jair Bolsonaro and now one of his main opponents. He could well run for president in 2022 in the name of this formation which led the country in the years 1990, before the arrival of the left in power.

For Lula’s heirs, on the other hand, the municipal elections confirmed that the revival was still long to emerge. For the first time since the return of democracy in 1985, the party of the former president, the PT (Workers’ Party), has failed to win any state capital, among the 26 in the country. .

The rare glimmer of hope of the Brazilian left is a defeat: if Guilherme Boulos, of the Socialism and Freedom Party (Psol) and leader of the Movement of Homeless Workers (MTST), clearly bowed Sunday to Bruno Covas, his good result in the first round made this charismatic activist, 38 years old, a newcomer to follow on the national stage.


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