Projecting Brazil’s Senate races

. Oct 03, 2018
Projecting Brazil's Senate races 2/3 of Brazil's Senate will be renewed on Sunday

While the presidential race claims the lion’s share of headlines in Brazil, the Brazilian people will also have some key decisions to make in renewing the country’s legislature come Election Day. As well as selecting all 513 members of the lower house of Congress, two-thirds of the seats in the Senate are also up for grabs.

Two-thirds, as senatorial terms in Brazil last eight years. Fifty-four of the 81 Senators are now at the end of their term; 27 will hold onto their seats until 2022. For each of Brazil’s states, there are now two senatorial spots in play, with a term running until 2026.

Here at The Brazilian Report we have looked at the recent polling data and projected a possible future Senate, providing all of the current electoral trends hold. Of course, congressional votes are more volatile and subject to variation between now and October 7, but current polls give us a good idea of what we have in store.

</span></p> <h2>The Michel Temer effect on Brazil&#8217;s Senate</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Current president Michel Temer is the least popular head of state in Brazilian democratic history. Serving out the final months of his term (which began in 2016, when he stepped in after Congress controversially ousted Dilma Rousseff), Mr. Temer’s current approval rating is just 4 percent – an improvement on his 2.7 percent from August.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The specter of Mr. Temer has already made a significant impact on the elections. His allies refuse to mention his name in their campaigns, while their opponents use the president as a way to bring them down. In the presidential race, the two candidates most identified with Michel Temer – former Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, and Social Democracy Party candidate Geraldo Alckmin – have 11 percent of votes combined.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the race for the Senate, we see a similar effect, and some of Mr. Temer’s allies will struggle to hold onto their seats.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The most notable of the president&#8217;s cronies running the risk of losing is Romero Jucá, an incumbent Senator in the northern state of Roraima since 1995 and chairman of Mr. Temer’s party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement party.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Running for another re-election, Mr. Jucá is third in the polls. As it stands, he will lose his seat to Brazilian Republican Party candidate and former state lawmaker Mecias de Jesus.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When Mr. Temer took over as president, he made Mr. Jucá his Minister of Planning. He was forced to step down after only 11 days when conversations involving him were leaked to the press, in which Mr. Jucá discussed the need for a large, <a href="">nationwide pact</a> to stop the Operation Car Wash corruption investigations. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mr. Jucá himself has been hit by Operation Car Wash and is the target of several Supreme Court investigations, many of them corruption-related. Losing his seat would also see him lose his jurisdictional prerogative, meaning he could be judged by a trial court as of 2019.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This year’s Venezuelan migrant crisis has also been a huge blow to his chances of re-election. The state of Roraima sits on the border with Venezuela and was the site of ugly scenes of xenophobic violence earlier in the year. There is a demand for action and solutions, meaning all incumbent candidates in Roraima are going to have a very difficult time trying to win re-election.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Elsewhere in the country, the Brazilian Democratic Movement party, while holding onto power in many of its fiefdoms, is expected to lose seats. As is the Progressistas party, the party with the most members of parliament under investigation by Operation Car Wash.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-9370" src="" alt="With two-thirds of the Senate up for grabs, polls indicate interesting trends in store for Brazil's Senate" width="877" height="1024" srcset=" 877w, 257w, 768w, 610w, 1300w" sizes="(max-width: 877px) 100vw, 877px" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h2>Dilma in, Aécio out</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the state of Minas Gerais, a curious change of hands is set to take place. Aécio Neves, the defeated second-round candidate in the 2014 presidential election, will see his Senate seat filled by Workers’ Party candidate and former president Dilma Rousseff, who defeated Mr. Neves in 2014.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The two will not be direct adversaries this time, however, as Aécio Neves opted not to run for re-election. Numerous corruption scandals have seen his name dragged through the mud in recent years and he has decided to run for a seat in the lower house, where he has a much lower chance of losing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Minas Gerais is likely to see three new faces in Brazil&#8217;s Senate instead of just two, as besides scandal-ridden incumbents Mr. Neves and Zezé Perrella both deciding not to run for re-election, Minas Gerais’ other sitting Senator, Antonio Anastasia, is on the verge of becoming the state governor. In this case, Mr. Anastasia would be replaced in Congress by his substitute, Alexandre Silveira. </span></p> <h2>What’s going on in Acre?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the smallest states in Brazil’s sparsely populated North, Acre is something of an electoral anomaly. For the last 20 years, the state has chosen senators, governors and members of Congress from the center-left Workers’ Party. However, when it comes time to elect a new president, Acre usually swings right. The election of 2002 was the only instance in which the state voted for the Workers’ Party for president, helping Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva get elected in the second round.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite electing Workers’ Party candidates on a state level, Acre is overwhelmingly conservative – and there is an explanation for this apparent incoherence. The Workers’ Party candidates preferred by Acre’s people are brothers Jorge and Tião Viana, or other politicians related to the Viana clan. While being from a center-left party, the roots of their support in the state are traditionally conservative, built from their father, Wildy Viana. During the military dictatorship of the 1960s and 70s, Viana Sr. was one of the main men for National Renewal Alliance, the political party of the authoritarian regime.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This time around, Arce&#8217;s conservative national politics have been maintained (Jair Bolsonaro currently polls a whopping seven times higher than Fernando Haddad in the state), but the hegemony of the Viana clan also appears to be slipping. In the Senate, older brother Jorge appears set to lose his seat, while Tião&#8217;s appointed successor for state governor is also lagging in the polls.

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