In an election you can be defeated, but still get a political win. That is what happened with Brazil’s opposition a few days ago: we lost our presidential elections, but we had a significant political win.
The Workers Party of Lula da Silva has held the presidency since the first day of 2003 and will remain in power until the last day of 2018. That is not the best scenario, without a doubt, but this time they won only by 3% of the vote, with Dilma Rousseff gaining 51.5%. Aécio Neves, the opposition leader from our coalition, got 48.5% of the votes.
The opposition managed to gain more than 50 million votes. It was the closest race in Brazilian history and the smallest margin for the leftists since Lula da Silva took office.
Also, we retained or won a lot of important local government elections including as São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, Goiás and others. In Rio de Janeiro, our coalition won the elections and Democratas, IDU’s member party, will be part of government.
Now in Brazil there will be a much more intense political atmosphere as their will be more friction between government and opposition because the country is so politically divided. It may sound unthinkable, but Senator Aécio Neves, the defeated candidate, received an overwhelming welcome when he returned to Senate after the end of the campaign and was treated like a winner. On the other hand, Dilma Rousseff is avoiding public appearances.
That happens because the Workers Party managed to win the elections by securing a great margin at the poorer states that have been the targets of more populist initiatives and money given by the government to poor people. Those wins compensated defeats in almost all of the other states. Also, those big margins were achieved because people who campaigned for Rousseff spread false rumors which stated that opposition would terminate all social benefits. That obviously was a lie, but poor people preferred not to take any risks. That strategy payed its price and now public opinion sees Rousseff as a liar and Neves as a candidate that almost won even facing a dirty campaign against himself.
In the end of the day, almost half of the country wanted change and punishment for corruption. Opposition parties, including our Democratas will survive and work for a probable win in 2018.
IYDU Vice Chairman
Democratas – Brazil