Center-right takes Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo municipal runoff elections

São Paulo, Nov 29 (efe-epa).- Center-right candidates on Sunday won the mayoralties of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the latter where “Bolsonarism” suffered a new blow after the defeat of the current councilor, the evangelical bishop Marcelo Crivella, in the runoff municipal elections in Brazil.

Some 38 million voters, 25 percent of the total, went Sunday to the polls to elect mayors in the second round in 57 large cities of the country, including Recife, where the Workers’ Party (PT) of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva accepted his fate after losing the possibility of winning any large cities.

In São Paulo, the largest electoral college in the country with 9 million voters, the polling projections were solidified with the victory of current mayor Bruno Covas of the center-right Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB).

Covas, the grandson of historical politician Mario Covas, has the endorsement of his predecessor and current governor of the state, João Doria, who has emerged as President Jair Bolsonaro’s main political rival within the conservative field.

He was re-elected with 59.3 percent of the votes, a wide advantage over university professor and leader of Brazil’s Homeless Workers’ Movement, Guilherme Boulos (40.6 percent), who could not go out to vote after testing positive for COVID-19 in the final stretch of the electoral campaign.

Boulos, 38, has emerged as the main voice of the left in Brazil after reaching the second round with the emerging Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), a formation that emerged in 2004 after a purge promoted by the PT, and it has assumed a part of the leadership that Lula has occupied for decades within the progressive camp.

In Rio de Janeiro, the Mayor’s Office fell into the hands of former mayor Eduardo Paes, who obtained 64.11 percent of the votes after receiving critical support from diverse groups of parties from both the left and right who share animosity towards Bolsonaro.

Crivella (35.89 percent) had the endorsement of the leader of the Brazilian far-right, who overplayed his hand in Rio de Janeiro after the first-round blow suffered by the candidates he backs.

Bolsonaro, who is without a party after leaving the right-wing Social Liberal Party (PSL) last year due to differences with its leaders, transferred his public support to a total of 13 candidates, 11 of whom were defeated at the polls.

In addition to Rio de Janeiro, “Bolsonarism” also lost out Sunday in Fortaleza, where Wagner Sousa Gomes, known as “Captain Wagner,” lost by a narrow margin.

Despite the fact that the left managed to stem the bleeding experienced in the municipal elections of 2016, the traditional Workers’ Party ended up solidifying the disaster already experienced in the first round after losing the elections in Recife and Vitoria, the two cities they competed in.

In Recife, Marilia Arraes, Lula’s political protégé, lost to her cousin João Campos who became the youngest elected mayor in a Brazilian state capital at the age of 27.

In Vitoria, a former electoral stronghold of the PT, Republicans candidate Commissioner Lorenzo Pazolini ousted the progressive João Coser with 58.50 percent of the votes.

This is the first time that the PT, considered for many years the main benchmark of the progressive camp in Brazil, will not govern any of the Brazilian capitals since 1985.

The PT, which has already ruled São Paulo, the country’s largest city, twice, reached the record of nine capitals in 2004, in the second year of Lula’s presidential term (2003-2010).

With record abstentions in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the process developed almost without incident and under strict security measures due to COVID-19, since Brazil is the second-highest country in the world in terms of deaths, with more of 172,000, and third-highest for cases, with about 6.3 million infections.

The counting was notably faster than in the first round, when a cyberattack attempt delayed the release of the results by several hours.

In Brazil, voting is mandatory and done by electronic ballot box, a method considered reliable according to specialists, but which has been questioned by Bolsonaro.

The far-right leader not only questioned Brazil’s electronic system Sunday, but also took advantage of the day to denounce “fraud” in the United States elections, where the vote is by paper ballot.

“I have my sources of information that there really was a lot of fraud there,” said the Brazilian head of state and fan of Donald Trump. He is one of the few leaders who has not yet congratulated Joe Biden on his election as new US president. He added he would “wait a bit longer” to recognize the winner. EFE-EPA

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