Brazil to hold runoff municipal elections

Brazil will hold runoff elections today for undecided mayoral and city council positions. Numerous mayoral races are yet to be

Brazil runoff

Photo: Silvia Izquierdo/ AP

Brazil will hold runoff elections today for undecided mayoral and city council positions.

Numerous mayoral races are yet to be decided, including in the country’s most populous cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Right-wing populist President Jair Bolsonaro won the two cities handily in 2018, but neither of the two candidates he backed in the mayoral races performed well. Countrywide, only nine of the sixty candidates he endorsed advanced to the runoff.

On a national level, Bolsonaro’s approval rating had been at around 40% prior to the municipal elections, with about half of Brazilians considering him blameless for the country’s COVID-19 response, which has killed more than 165,000 Brazilians. In addition, Bolsonaro has renewed a popular cash transfer program for 65 million poor Brazilians through the end of the year, expanding his support.

While the municipal elections have been a setback to Bolsonaro’s political capital in urban arenas, he still remains popular on the national level. Expect the results of these runoffs not to significantly affect his chances for re-election in 2022. Rather, expect his handling of Brazil’s dire economic predicament in 2021 to be the most important issue for his re-election campaign.

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