Monday, October 04, 2010

Political earthquake in Brazil? Lula fails to elect Dilma on the first round

UPDATED. In a tiny little bit of a Colombia syndrome, Dilma Roussef, Lula's handpicked successor will have to fight it out for a second round vote in a few weeks.  In fact, with 70% of the votes counted there is the real possibility that she will reach barely 45%, thus making it possible for Serra to beat her in the second round, though by no more than a point or two even if the surprising Marina Silva scored much better than expected as the third runner.

True, due to some recent scandals in the Brazil government polls were suggesting that Roussef would miss by a few votes a first round victory.  But 45% is not "a few missing" and thus polls got it wrong like they got wrong the first round in Colombia's election.  Not as bad of course, by far, but bad enough to start wondering about polling techniques in countries as broken physically as Colombia or Brazil.

Overall Lula has had a good administration and one should not be surprised that whomever he supported as the best successor for his polices should be leading in the polls.  But arrogance has a price.

First, Lula did not want to hear anything about primaries and what not.  It was Dilma or else, and surely this affected the voters, explaining in part why Marina Silva did much better than expected as many disgruntled Lula supporters turned to his former ally (no PPT debacle here, as in Venezuela).

Second the scandalous involvement of Lula in the campaign was a clear strategy at turning the election into his "third term" plebiscite as well as an attempt to secure a first round victory for Dilma and thus leaving him in a good position to keep pulling a few strings in Brasilia.  Now Dilma is going to need to win on her own the second ballot...

I understand that Marina Silva favors Serra but her voters come at least in large part from past Lula preferences.  No matter what agreement she may reach with Serra it is doubtful that she will be able to transfer her 20% to Serra and thus we can expect at least a 5% to go Dilma or stay home.  The corruption scandals in the entourage of Lula and Dilma are only starting to have an effect and are certain to become an issue in the campaign for the second round.  Thus Serra has a real chance but I still give Dilma ahead, by no more than 2-3 points.  That is, unless she manages a deal with Marina Silva and clears up the mess in her offices.  All is possible.  What is certain is that the Brazil vote has suddenly become a real election....

Still, we need to meditate some here.  It is amazing that what is perceived here and in Brazil as a good administration gets a surprising low 45% whereas what is now considered an hyper-corrupt  failed administration, even by many of its supporters that still did vote for it last Sunday, gets a 48% for Chavez.  Makes one wonder about Messianic leadership when this one combines with electoral fraud.


Two things.

Observe that as I type this, at 8:15PM, most of Brazil's results are up on the web, including senators and governors.  Were they in Venezuela, well, they woudl still have at least 5 hours more to wait.  Look at the O'Globo page which even gives you the color scheme of won or lost state, something unthinkable from our local CNE....

I did not realize that for some reason Nordeste votes are slower in coming than for the rest of Brazil.  And the Nordeste is a Lula bastion now.  So it looks like Dilma will cross the 46% mark which not only helps her for the second round but also psychologically help her some by making her look that she "barely" missed the first round win....  Below 46 she cannot pull that one.  Silly but that is the way electoral psychology works, the automatic "rounding up".


  1. 1979 Boat People1:30 AM

    The tide has been turning in Latin America since Chile election. No?

  2. Anonymous2:58 AM

    What strikes me odd about the results (according to the O Globo website) was the number of empty votes (3.4M) and null votes (5.8M). Well over 9 million people went to vote and didn't. I'm not saying fraud or anything of course, it's just too many people.

    Maybe it was intended as a protest or something? Are there any Brazilians around here who can tell us?

  3. Milonga3:06 AM

    4 hours after polls were closed, 98% of votes counted. Learn Tibisay!! hahaha

  4. SupaFly3:21 AM

    well....arent you people lucky....pretty soon you all gonna get all that extra food at bargain gets what you votes for...good ole latin america

  5. Anonymous4:29 AM


    On top of that, in Sao Paulo state the opposition (PSDB) governor, Alckmin, takes over 50 % and carries his reelection in the first round!

    Here, the polling institutes have plenty of egg on their faces as none could predict such a low total for Dil-má. :-)

    Hope the message is understood in Brasilia, but I personnaly do not count on it. As your own experience shows, these people are oblivious to anything that does not fit their narrative...


    Tony do Rio

    PS: always reading your blog, rarely commenting though.

  6. Boludo Tejano4:30 AM

    1979 Boat People, I thought that as you are an immigrant from Vietnam, you might be interested in this information about Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. She accused Van Tran, her opponent in the contest in California’s 47th Congressional District, of being anti-immigrant, in spite of the fact that Sanchez was born in the US and Van Tran is an immigrant. Not to mention she said that the “Vietnamese and Republicans are trying to take this seat from us, after we have done so much for OUR [‘nostra’] community.” A community which does not include Vietnamese and Republicans, apparently.Here is the video in Loretta Sanchez’s fractured Spanish with English translation.
    Or were you already aware of this?

    I did not realize that for some reason Nordeste votes are slower in coming than for the rest of Brazil.
    It was the slave and sugar growing center of Brazil, and has yet to catch up with the rest of Brazil. Apparently this lagging behind would also include infrastructure for retrieving votes. For the last century, the Nordeste has supplied a steady stream of migrants to Sao Paolo seeking to escape the poverty of their home area. But knowing this would not necessarily translate into predicting that vote counting would lag behind.

    OTOH, this would also be an issue in the Amazon basin. Perhaps the difference is that there are a lot fewer votes there than in the Nordeste, so it is of less consequence.

    A while back some First World lefty asked a prominent Brazilian public figure about US imperialism impeding economic and social progress in the Nordeste. The Brazilian public figure replied back, “Is this question some sort of ideological joke?”

    My guess would be that if there were any ballot-box stuffing, it would be in the Nordeste. By analogy: LBJ’s 1948 Senate primary victory, by all of 87 votes, was secured by ballot box stuffing in the impoverished Rio Grande Valley.

    Had Thugo turned out like Lula, for all of Lula’s missteps in foreign policy, Venezuela would be much better off today. [But then I am not telling you anything you didn’t already know.]

  7. Anonymous6:04 AM

    There's 2 points I'd like to make.

    1. 1979 Boat People, It's not all turning away from socialism in latin america. Here's something regarding the upcoming Peruvian election, and there's a Chavez connection in the 3rd last paragraph, "Chavez donated 8 million dollars..."

    2. "Anonymous @ 8.28 pm" Voting is mandatory in Brasil, I think the only way to avoid voting for a slate of candidates one doesn't like is to either be sick or spoil the ballot. So +9 million ballots with "you are all idiots" written on them wouldn't be out of line.
    Note too that their electronic voting system, being one of the most advanced in the world (their words, not mine), gave updates before the final tally, and finished counting those votes within a few hours.

    marc in calgary

  8. 1979 Boat People6:46 AM

    Boludo Tejano,

    Thank you very much for this information. No, i were not aware of this.

    It looks like that I am more aware of what happens in Latin America than in US&Canada nowaday, Am i not?.:)

    May be I should blame it on Daniel who got me hooked on Latin America.:)

  9. 1979 Boat People7:28 AM

    marc in calgary,

    Thank you very much for this interesting article.

    Chavez sure wants to be the leader of the lefty in Latin America, doesn't he?.

    He has not learnt the lesson from USSR.

  10. Milonga1:43 PM

    "You are all idiots" accross the ballot is impossible because there is no such thing. The electronic voting system in Brazil has a "Blank" key. To elect somebody you punch his number, the photo appears and you confirm. But you can type any number and confirm it, thus voting null. Having heard yet any comments on high blank vote and absentees. If I do, I'll let you know. Google "urna eletrônica" if you want to see how it is.

  11. Anonymous12:28 AM

    "you are all idiots" ... "wouldn't be out of line" is my example of a protest vote. ie: a blank ballot.

    I believed there were paper ballots too, although the tabulation was by the electronic method. It's not important unless the +9 millions is disputed in Brasil, and I haven't heard of concerns regarding this in the general news outlets.

    marc in calgary

  12. Boludo Tejano7:13 AM

    1979 Boat People: would you consider that statement from Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez to be racist and/or bigoted? As someone of Vietnamese origin, you would be in a better position to judge that than I.

  13. 1979 Boat People7:27 PM

    Boludo Tejano,

    It is an election time. Politians always throw mud at their opponents to gain votes.

    She sure is trying to play a racial card to win votes from her own community.

    How bad is this mud throwing? Well i let that to people in her area decide.:)


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