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Cablegate: Brazil: Incumbents, Pmdb Win in Second Round Mayoral

VZCZCXRO6474
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #1414/01 3021026
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281026Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2744
INFO RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 8635
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 2975
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6802
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5900
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7575
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7167
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0683
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001414

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV BR
SUBJECT: Brazil: Incumbents, PMDB Win in Second Round Mayoral
Races

REFS: A. BRASILIA 1320, B. BRASILIA 1330, C. SAO PAULO 536, D.
BRASILIA 1290

1. (U) Summary. In second round voting for mayors in thirty
Brazilian cities, candidates from the Brazilian Democratic Movement
Party (PMDB) and incumbents did well, while President Lula's
Workers' Party (PT) lost in Sao Paulo, Salvador, and Porto Alegre,
but did well in the industrial cities surrounding Sao Paulo. (See
septel reporting from Sao Paulo.) The poor showing for Lula's
candidates in some large cities calls into question his ability to
"transfer" votes, in spite of his high personal popularity, which
could be a disadvantage for the PT's presidential candidate in 2010.
Yesterday's results reconfirm first round results on October 5 that
signaled the 2010 presidential contest will be between Jose Serra,
the Social Democrat (PSDB) governor of Sao Paulo state, and
presidential chief of staff Dilma Rousseff (PT) who appears to be
Lula's choice. End summary.


2. (U) The two main parties in President Lula's coalition, the PMDB
and Lula's own PT, fared best, each winning several mayorships in
some of the 30 cities where a second round election was held. The
PMDB won eight large municipalities, including Rio de Janeiro, Porto
Alegre, and Salvador. The poor showing for Lula's candidates in
some large cities calls into question his ability to "transfer"
votes, in spite of his high popularity, which could be a
disadvantage for the PT's presidential candidate in 2010. Of the 79
largest municipalities in the country, the PT now governs 21, the
PMDB 17 and the PSDB 13. As in the first round (reftel), incumbents
fared well, and voters re-elected ten of the eleven incumbents
standing for re-election in round two. In the capitals of the three
largest states, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro, the
candidate allied with the state governor won.

Governor's Candidate Wins in Rio de Janeiro

3. (U) In Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes (PMDB) edged out Fernando
Gabeira (Green Party - PV) by the smallest margin in the city's
history -- 50.83% to 49.17%, only 55,225 votes. Analysts say low
voter turnout helped Paes win, with nearly one million residents
abstaining. Though the result is seen as a victory for President
Lula and Governor Sergio Cabral, who both supported Paes, it
highlights the politico-economic divide between the different areas
of the city. Gabeira won the city's affluent southern zone by a
decisive margin, as well as Rio's north and center, while Paes won
the highly populated, impoverished western zone. Paes's mandate,
though slim, gives him the opportunity to deliver on his campaign
promise to bring federal and state resources to Rio de Janeiro.
Federal military troops have been stationed in Rio de Janeiro for
the past few weeks to ensure free and fair elections; so far, there
are no reports of rampant voter intimidation at the polls, as had
been feared.

4. (U) Combating crime and violence is a key issue for many of
Brazil's large cities, perhaps most crucially so for Rio de Janeiro.
Starting with last year's Pan Am Games, Rio de Janeiro is billed as
the "face of Brazil" for large-scale sports competitions and other
major events. Rio will host the World Cup Finals in 2014 and hopes
to host the 2016 Olympics. Newly elected Mayor Eduardo Paes, who
until now has been serving as the state's Secretary for Sports and
Tourism, has a keen appreciation the negative links between
declining public security and tourism revenue. Rather than
inserting himself into the operational strategy of law enforcement,
a state function rather than a municipal one, Paes likely sees
himself more active in public relations on behalf of the city.
Personable and fluent in English, Paes will seek to improve the
city's public security image (if only superficially) with the media
and international event organizers. While other mayoral candidates
advocated broadening the police authority of the city's Municipal
Guard, a small unarmed patrol force, Paes has so far only supported
better training and more equipment.

Belo Horizonte: Candidate of Governor and Presidential Hopeful Wins

5. (U) In Belo Horizonte, Marcio Lacerda (Brazilian Socialist Party
- PSB) turned around his disappointing first round performance to
win the second round with 59.12%. Lacerda's victory could bolster
2010 election prospects for his backers, Minas Gerais Governor Aecio
Neves and outgoing Belo Horizonte Mayor Fernando Pimentel (PT).
Neves may hope to win the PSDB presidential nomination in 2010;
Pimentel is considering a run for governor.


BRASILIA 00001414 002 OF 002


6. (SBU) As previously reported (ref D), Neves saw Lacerda's
victory in the Belo Horizonte mayoral race as very important to
bolstering his standing within his party for the PSDB's presidential
nomination in 2010. While his endorsement of Lacerda was
successful, Neves's standing in relation to PSDB rival Jose Serra
for the nomination did not necessarily improve because Kassab's
victory was by a larger margin over a more significant opponent in
Brazil's largest city. Though some analysts suggest that Neves
could join a Serra ticket as the vice presidential candidate, it
still appears that Neves is eyeing the top spot. While his
preference is clearly to be the PSDB's candidate in 2010, some
analysts think he could switch parties to launch himself as the
PMDB's presidential candidate. In the absence of dynamic
presidential contenders from either the PT or PMDB parties, Neves --
a Lula ally -- could very well capitalize to forge a PMDB-PT
alliance in 2010.

SOBEL

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