Monday, October 30, 2006

Lula wins in Brazil

By Michael J.W. Stickings

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva easily won yesterday's run-off presidential election to secure a second term. He defeated Geraldo Alckmin.

The results are here.

Lula beat Alckmin 48.6% to 41.6% in the first round of voting on October 1. Since no candidate won an absolute majority of the vote (over 50%), a second round was held between the top two candidates. Lula beat Alckmin 60.8% to 39.2% in the run-off.

For more, see The Washington Post: The "vote of confidence" was "a landslide victory [for] the former union leader whose first term was marked by a significant reduction of poverty and by corruption scandals that implicated some of his closest aides". The BBC calls it "a resounding victory"?

But was it? Lula received less than 50% of the first-round vote. In the October 1 congressional elections, his party, the leftist Workers' Party, won only 15.0% of the vote for the Chamber of Deputies and only 19.2% of the vote for the Senate. In terms of seats, it won only 83 of 513 in the Chamber of Deputies. And it won only two of the 27 contested Senate races (one-third of the seats were contested this year), bringing its total there to only 11 of 81. In contrast, Alckmin's center-left Social Democracy Party won 65 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and five of the 27 contested Senate races, bringing its total there to 15.

It's all quite confusing, though. Brazil uses a List-Proportional Representation electoral system that allows for many different parties to be represented in the National Congress. In fact, 21 parties won at least one seat in the Chamber of Deputies, and 13 parties have at least one seat in the Senate. (Aside from the Workers' Party and the Social Democracy Party, the other leading parties are the centrist Democratic Movement Party and the center-right Liberal Front Party.) Needless to say, coalition-building is imperative. Lula may have won the presidency by a wide margin in yesterday's vote, but the landscape in the legislature, where his own party is only one of many, is far less clear.

For more, see the Brazil page at Election Resources here. Also see here.

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