BRASILIA Oct 3 Brazil's municipal elections
showed that new parties have failed to capitalize on voters'
disenchantment with a corruption-tainted political
establishment, making it unlikely an outsider will win the 2018
The political movements nurtured by the anti-corruption
street protests of 2013 and 2015, despite a massive presence on
social media, won just a handful of mayoral posts and local
council seats in Sunday's nationwide polls.
In the first elections since President Dilma Rousseff was
dismissed in August for breaking budget rules, her leftist
Workers Party lost nearly two-thirds of the cities it
controlled, amid a backlash at a massive graft scandal at state
oil company Petrobras.
Yet more than 4,000 of Brazil's 5,568 municipalities will
remain in the hands of traditional parties aligned with new
centre-right President Michel Temer, whose Brazilian Democratic
Movement Party (PMDB) has also been embroiled in the Petrobras
"We felt like the 300 of Sparta, fighting against the
system," said Felipe Camozzato, one of four winning candidates
of the New Party, referring to the ancient Greeks' heroic defeat
by a far larger Persian force at the battle of Thermopylae.
"We didn't expect to promote change in four years. It's a
project for 20, 30, 50 years," said Camozzato, whose party is
one of the most popular on Brazilian social media with over 1.2
million Facebook followers.
While new movements have generated an online buzz with
pledges to clean up politics, the political machines of Brazil's
established parties quietly capitalized on stricter financing
rules and a shorter campaign to retain strongholds in smaller
towns, a breeding ground for legislative candidates.
The results suggest Brazil's established parties and
pork-barrel politics will continue to dominate a fragmented
Congress, raising the costs of economic reforms, analysts said.
They also reduced the chances that an outsider could hope to
win the presidency in 2018 bypassing the old party machines,
despite Brazil's worst economic slowdown in a century.
"If a recession like this with over 12 million unemployed
failed to create outsiders, how could we expect one in 2018?"
said political analyst Luciano Dias, a partner in the
consultancy firm CAC.
PLANTING A SEED
The right-leaning Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB)
was the biggest beneficiary of the demise of the Workers Party.
The PSDB wrested control of São Paulo, the country's economic
powerhouse, from its leftist rival.
Temer's PMDB lost Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second biggest
city, but held on to the largest number of mayoralties across
the country, ensuring it will continue to be the largest
Brazilian party. Its allies also advanced in state capital
Lucas de Aragão, a political scientist with consultancy Arko
Advice, said it was far more important for the PMDB to retain
its sweeping geographical footprint than retain control of a
single metropolis as that gave it the platform to campaign in
"It will continue to be the most influential party in
Congress and, because of its enormous capillarity, the most
decisive actor in 2018," he said.
The Socialist PSOL party, seen as the Workers Party's main
rival on the left, squeaked into the second round in Rio de
Janeiro but elected only two other mayors.
Also on the left, Rede Sustentabilidade, whose leader Marina
Silva came third in the 2014 presidential election running for
the PSB party, elected just five mayors.
"This election was a victory for conservative forces," said
Luiz Araújo, president of the PSOL. "But we planted a seed."
Right-leaning Free Brazil Movement, which staged nationwide
protests that helped remove Rousseff from office, elected only
eight city council members.
A record number of 31 parties elected at least one mayor,
showing Brazil's fragmented party system becoming even more
A proposal to cut the number of small parties by setting a
minimum threshold of votes to remain registered passed a Senate
committee last month and could further consolidate the dominance
of traditional parties if it becomes law.
(Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Anthony Boadle and