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Brazil’s 2018 Election: Quid pro quo will remain the name of the game

. Apr 20, 2018
Brazil 2018 Election Quid pro quo will remain the name of the game Brazil’s 2018 Election: Who will replace Michel Temer?
Brazil 2018 Election Quid pro quo will remain the name of the game

Brazil’s 2018 Election: Who will replace Michel Temer?

Brazil’s next president, to be elected in October, is set to have the least amount of popular support since the country became a democracy. And that could turn into the recipe for a troubled administration.

With Lula out of the race (barring some bizarre turn of events, that is), the amount of voters willing to either vote blank or to nullify their votes has raised from 19 to 39 percent, according to the latest survey from Datafolha, Brazil’s most prestigious polling institute. That’s more than one-third of the electorate. It means that without a landslide victory in the runoff stage (highly unlikely), the next president-elect will not have the support of the majority of registered voters.

</p> <p>Such a scenario already occurred back in 2016, when Brazil held municipal elections. Businessman <a href="https://brazilian.report/2017/10/24/sao-paulos-mayor-doria-pellet-faux-pas/">João Doria won</a> São Paulo’s mayoral race in the first round, obtaining 53 percent of votes. However, the number of people who abstained from voting, or who had nullified their choice, was actually higher than the number of those who voted in his favor.</p> <p>Abstention has increasingly become an issue in Brazil. In 2016, 21 percent of registered voters didn’t show up, according to the country’s <a href="http://www.tse.jus.br/imprensa/noticias-tse/2016/Novembro/segundo-turno-das-eleicoes-municipais-2016-registra-aumento-de-abstencoes">electoral justice</a>. While it might seem a small abstention rate, especially compared to the <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/14/us-election-2016-voter-turnout-fell-to-58-per-cent-this-year-est/">U.S.</a> – where only 58 percent of voters headed to the polls in 2016 – let’s keep in mind that voting is mandatory for Brazilians between 18 and 70 years old.</p> <h3>Older voters are less motivated</h3> <p>The 2016 abstention rate was the highest it’s been since 1988, the first general election after the end of the military dictatorship. Part of that phenomenon is the current representation crisis. But part of it is more trivial: voters are getting older. One in every four voters who abstained in 2016 were 70 or older, when voting is no longer an obligation.</p> <p>Since Brazil’s population is quickly getting older, the aging of the electorate will be even more of a factor come October. In 1998, voters of 70 years old or over made up 5.7 percent of the total. Ten years later, that rate went up to 6.4 percent. Now, according to the electoral justice, they represent 8.2 percent.</p> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="55cb0910-27a9-4add-8529-49177dbe9022" data-type="interactive"></div><script>!function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement("script");a.async=1,a.id=s,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","//e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js");</script> <h3>Weak president ahead?</h3> <p>“The problem with having the support of a small share of voters is that the pressure placed on the new administration will quickly mount if the mayors don’t show quick results,” explains political scientist Carlos Melo.</p> <p>But the voters are far from the biggest problem ahead.</p> <p>In our political system, governability is only achievable through coalitions. It is expected that parties would claim control over some parts of the state in exchange for their legislative support. The problem is when that becomes an instrument for corruption. Former Congressman Severino Cavalcanti, who served as House Speaker between February and November 2005, is a good example. He has zero experience in the oil business, and yet wanted to name a pal of his as the Petrobras director “of that branch that drills oil from the ground,” as he described it at the time.</p> <p>A group of parties known as the <em>“Centrão”</em> (the big center) exist with the <a href="https://brazilian.report/2017/10/23/brazils-congress-priority-protection/">sole purpose of draining public resources</a>. They benefit from a strong municipal network to win congressional seats, which gives them leverage in negotiations for political support.</p> <p>If the president is weak, their votes in Congress will become more expensive.</p> <p>On top of that, none of the <a href="https://brazilian.report/2018/04/16/brazil-presidential-election-favorites/">leading presidential candidates</a> for Brazil’s 2018 election (Jair Bolsonaro, Marina Silva, Ciro Gomes, and Joaquim Barbosa) have a strong party behind them.</p> <p>A lot can change before the election, but the race is already set to perpetuate the current rules of Brazilian politics. Quid pro quo will likely remain the name of the game.

 
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