Sunday’s second (and last) round in Brazil’s local elections brought big victories for the parties supporting President Dilma Roussef, the successor and former right hand of the wildly popular Lula da Silva.
Dilma’s center-left Workers Party (PT) won in 635 municipalities (up from 558, out of a total of 5,564), most of them small but also including São Paulo. Its ally, the Socialist Party (PSB), won even bigger and gained control of 441 of them (up from 311), including Recife, Belo Horizonte, and Campinas. The PT’s victory is all the more impressive given the major corruption scandals surrounding it: Many prominent members of Lula’s inner circle have been convicted for their involvement in schemes to bribe opposition members into supporting his policies.
Someone who may be able to capitalize on this is Eduardo Campos, the governor of Pernambuco (in the North East) and the leader of the PSB, who has positioned himself as Dilma’s main threat in the 2014 presidential elections.
In São Paulo, Brazil’s business hub and South America’s largest city, former education minister Fernando Haddad (PT) beat former mayor and governor José Serra (PSDB), thanks to the active support of both Dilma and Lula against heavy opposition within his own party. São Paulo had been the PT’s main target in this round of elections, and the major central-government concessions it made to the city seem to have paid off.
The loser in this race, Mr. Serra, is now no longer considered to be a credible presidential nominee, making the former governor of Minas Gerais, Senator Aecio Neves, of the center-right Social-Democracy Party (PSDB), whose political allies performed surprisingly well, the most likely presidential candidate from that side of the political spectrum.
All in all, the Workers Party’s dominance continues for now, but new regional leaders are emerging and the Socialist Party has matured into a genuine major force on the left.