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Cablegate: Brazil: Brazil Municipal Elections: First Round

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RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #1330/01 2812042
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 072042Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2609
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7117
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4755
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5858
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 4271
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 6633
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 3986
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7561
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2621
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0633
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 8557
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6721
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 2876

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BRASILIA 001330

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR BSC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL: BRAZIL MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS: FIRST ROUND
SHOWS STRENGTH OF INCUMBENCY, GOVERNING PARTY GOING INTO
2010 PRESIDENTIAL RACE

REF: A. BRASILIA 01320
B. SAO PAULO 00536

1. (U) Summary: During local elections held on Sunday,
October 5, in over 5500 Brazilian cities and towns (but not
in Brasilia, as the DF has a governor but no mayor),
Brazilians voted for mayors and city councils peacefully
without incident. In state capitals they generally
re-elected mayors or sent them to the second round. Although
President Lula's Workers Party (PT) and the Brazilian
Democratic Movement party (PMDB- Brazil's Largest,
non-ideological party, which is a member of the governing
coalition) did not gain a substantial number of mayoralties
over 2004, they are the big winners of the first round
because the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) and the
Democrats (DEMs), the main opposition parties, both lost
ground. The DEMs lost their traditional place as one of
Brazil's four largest parties, at least in terms of mayors
elected. Although Lula could not consistently translate his
immense popularity into strong first-round electoral
victories, the PT may have done well enough to strengthen his
preferred candidate for 2010, Dilma Rouseff. Her most likely
opponent, Sao Paulo governor Jose Serra, received a boost
when the Sao Paulo mayoral candidate he backed made it into
the second round (Ref b). Observers will look closely at the
second round voting on Sunday October 26, particularly in Sao
Paulo, as a signpost for the prospects of candidates and
parties in the 2010 presidential race. End
summary.

-------------
Key Matchups
-------------

2. (U) In Sao Paulo, incumbent Mayor Gilberto Kassab (DEM),
the candidate backed by state governor Jose Serra (PSDB),
surprised pundits by besting both PSDB candidate Gerald
Alckmin and PT candidate, Marta Suplicy, a former SP mayor
and Lula Tourism Minister. The Kassab win signals strong
support for state governor Jose Serra among Social Democrats
and probably ensures Serra's presidential candidacy for the
party in 2010. Kassab could well pull off a final round
victory, which would be seen as a major defeat for Lula. But
the fact that Sao Paulo is a PT stronghold and Lula,s
overall popularity is high mean that this is no sure bet (see
Ref B for additional analysis).

3. (U) In Belo Horizonte Marcio Lacerda (PSB), the candidate
backed by Minas Gerais governor and potential presidential
candidate Aecio Neves (PSDB), saw his support drop in the
last week, and he will now go into a second round against
Leonard Quintao (PMDB). This poorer-than-expected showing,
along with the loss by Alckmin in Sao Paulo, whom Neves also
supported, has weakened Neves's prospects as a potential PSDB
candidate for 2010.

4. (SBU) In Rio de Janeiro, Federal Deputy Fernando Gabeira
of the Green Party, known for his role in the 1969 kidnapping
of US Ambassador Burke, made it into the second round.
Gabeira has expressed public regret for
his participation in the kidnapping and has and has renounced
recourse to such illegal acts. Even so, the USG continues to
deny him a visa to the U.S. The Mission has already received
press inquiries about his status vis-a-vis the United States.
Gabeira is now a crusader for ethical government and
environmentalism.

5. (U) In Recife, as expected, PT candidate Joo da Costa won
outright (with over 51% of the vote), even though a lower
court disqualified him from running for office in December
for alleged campaign violations. Da Costa could continue to
run because his case is on appeal, but it is still not
certain whether he will be able to take office.

-----------------------
National Implications
-----------------------

BRASILIA 00001330 002 OF 003

7. (U) In the 26 state capitals, the 15 first-round victories
mostly went to incumbents or their surrogates, and elsewhere
incumbents who were running generally made it into the second
round. In capitals, incumbents from President Lula's
Workers' Party won or went on to round two, with six
first-round wins, more than any other party. Analysts noted
that the results show incumbents used the resources and power
of incumbency effectively to gain re-election.

8. (U) The PT, PMDB and PSDB are the big winners as far as
the parties go. The PT won 13 major cities (population of
200,000 or more) and is in second-round contention in 15
more. The PMDB has won ten major cities and is contesting
the second round in ten. The PSDB has won 9 cities and
contests in the second round in ten more. As expected, the
PMDB appears on track to carry the majority of municipalities
country-wide. The PT and its allies are contending in the
second round in 18 of Brazil,s 20 state capitals. The good
PT showing lays a good base for Dilma Rousseff, as President
Lula,s preferred candidate to succeed him, to launch her
campaign to be the PT nominee for 2010.

9. (U) Although Lula's Workers Party (PT) and the Brazilian
Democratic Movement party (PMDB- Brazil's largest party and a
member of the governing coalition) did not gain a substantial
number of mayoralties over 2004 (473 versus 411 in 2004 for
the PT; 1,065 versus 1,059 in 2004 for the PMDB), the
Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) and the Democrats
both lost ground (664 versus 870 in 2004 for the PSDB; 432
versus 790 in 2004 for the Democrats). The Democrats
actually fell from their traditional perch among Brazil's
four biggest parties, at least in terms of mayors elected.
Overall, the PT won in urban areas with a combined total of
almost 19 million voters among the major cities, versus the
PMDB, which did so in cities with a combined 14 million
voters, and the PSDB in cities with a combined 8 million.
Although it did modestly well nationally, the only major city
where the PSDB won was in Curitiba, which has the sixth
largest electorate in Brazil.

10. (U) Observers will be watching the second round of voting
closely to see who gains strength for the 2010 presidential
race, already well under way informally. In Sao Paulo, a
Kassab victory would boost Serra and be a major defeat to
Lula and the PT. A victory by Suplicy, on the other hand,
would boost the PT's chances. In Belo Horizonte, a
second-round victory by Lacerda would help Aecio Neves, but
would not overcome the advantage conveyed to Serra by a
Kassab win in Sao Paulo. Some analysts see think Neves could
switch from the PSDB to the PMDB, making him a viable running
mate for Serra. Nationally, each party's showing in large
cities will be seen as both an indication of their popularity
heading into 2010. More importantly, control over
municipalities provides resources that can help a party
mobilize for the national election.

---------------------------------------------
Few Incidents, as Military is Deployed to Provide Security
---------------------------------------------

10. (U) The president of the Superior Electoral Court
reported no significant incidents during voting. Federal
troops were deployed in 460 towns and cities (a figure,
according to news reports, 25 percent higher than in 2004) to
guarantee public security during voting, most significantly
in Rio de Janeiro, where over 4,000 troops were stationed in
the city's large favelas (slums) to ensure that organized
crime gangs did not disrupt or attempt to direct voting.

11. (U) One day after the elections, the state of Pernambuco
saw more than 10,000 protesters clash with military police
from the state as rumors spread throughout the town of
Vitoria de Santo Antao that votes were left uncounted, and
that this may have derailed the election of the Brazilian
Socialist Party (PSB) candidate for mayor, who lost by 232
votes. About 40 people were arrested.

BRASILIA 00001330 003 OF 003


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