Brazil’s two biggest cities will be governed by centrist mayors who defeated President Jair Bolsonaro’s candidates in nationwide municipal elections, consolidating the return of more moderate political actors following a conservative wave that swept the country two years ago.
Brazilians went to the polls to choose mayors for Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and 55 of the country’s 5,500 municipalities whose first-round results in the November 15 vote had been inconclusive.
Half way into the Bolsonaro’s administration, the vote provided one of the most comprehensible snapshots of the Brazilian political landscape in the run-up to presidential elections in 2022. It had some curious takeaways: A popular president who has failed to create his own political party — and currently has no political affiliation — was not only unable to help those he endorsed, but in some cases might have contributed to their downfall.
“Bolsonaro emerges weakened and will have to learn that you can’t do politics without a party,” said Marco Teixeira, a professor of political sciences at Getulio Vargas Foundation, a think tank and business school in Sao Paulo. “He did not negotiate nor did he build alliances, he picked candidates according to his personal preferences with disastrous results for himself.”