Cablegate: Municipal Election Results in the South: Pt

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


1483; D) SAO PAULO 1472

1. Summary. In Sao Paulo and the South, the PSDB was the
big winner and the PT the big loser in the second round of
the Brazilian municipal elections on October 31. The PT
lost control of the two biggest prizes in the region, Sao
Paulo and Porto Alegre, the second of which the party had
governed for the last 16 years. Although it defeated the
PSDB in several important cities in Sao Paulo state,
overall, the PT lost ground to the PSDB in the 27 largest
cities in the state. The PSDB's victories in Sao Paulo,
Curitiba and Florianopolis, capital cities the party has
never previously governed, will undoubtedly fortify the
party's position in the run-up to the 2006 presidential
election. Jose Serra's decisive victory (55% - 45%) over
incumbent PT mayor Marta Suplicy also bolsters PSDB Governor
Geraldo Alckmin's position among the party's
"presidenciaveis," or potential presidential nominees. In
Parana state, the PT loss in Curitiba was also a major loss
for PMDB Governor Roberto Requiao, who had strongly backed
the PT candidate in that race. The PPS also gained strength
in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, with victories
in Porto Alegre and Pelotas. END SUMMARY


2. The PT lost big in the two states -- Sao Paulo and Rio
Grande do Sul -- where it traditionally has had its
strongest base of support. In addition to losing the
capitals, Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre, the PT lost ground in
the major cities in both states. PT party president Jose
Genoino acknowledged that the party's losses in these states
were "very heavy defeats" for the party, though he denied
that they indicated that the party was facing a "crisis."
In Sao Paulo state, among the 27 cities with populations
over 150,000, the number in PT hands fell from nine to five.
The results were mixed for the PT in the large industrial
suburbs (known as the ABC region) of Sao Paulo. It defeated
the PSDB in the second round in Santo Andre, Diadema and
Osasco (which the PSDB has governed for the last eight
years), and won reelection in Guarulhos in the first round
on October 3. The PT defeat of the PSDB in Osasco, the
hometown of Federal Chamber of Deputies President Joao Paulo
Cunha (PT), may strengthen Cunha's hand in jockeying with
other PT stars for a spot in Lula's cabinet or for a
gubernatorial run in 2006. In other ABC cities, the PT lost
Sao Caetano to the PTB, and failed yet again to win in Sao
Bernardo, Lula's hometown. PT incumbents did not make it
into the second round in the key interior cities of Riberao
Preto, Campinas, Piraciacaba and Sorocaba. The PT suffered
an upset second round loss in the important port city of
Santos, where former PT mayor Telma da Souza had been
expected to win her bid to return to office.

3. The PSDB, and specifically Governor Geraldo Alckmin,
were the big winners in the state. Alckmin noted that the
party had the best performance in the state since it was
founded in 1990. In addition to the capital, the PSDB took
Sorocaba, Riberao Preto and Piraciacaba away from the PT.
The party will now govern 10 of the state's largest cities,
one more than their current total, and twice the number of
any other party. Control of these voter rich cities will
undoubtedly help the party consolidate its position as the
strongest party in the most populous state in Brazil. The
party's success helps to burnish Alckmin's own standing
within the party and as a potential player on the national
stage, though the Governor has little visibility outside his
home state. Alckmin threw his own political capital
strongly behind Serra in the capital, demonstrating his
effectiveness as a political godfather. He did the same in
Sorocaba, where he participated actively in the campaign in
the first round, supporting both the PSDB and PFL candidates
to deny the incumbent PT mayor a slot in the second round.

4. The PT's performance in the southern state of Rio Grande
do Sul was equally dispiriting for the party faithful. In
addition to losing Porto Alegre, the first major city
governed by the PT, where it has been in power for the last
16 years, the party was ousted from power in Caxias do Sul
and Pelotas, the state's second and third largest interior
cities. The party will now govern in only one of the
state's five largest cities. The PT won reelection in Santa
Maria in the first round, but failed to dislodge the PSDB
incumbent from city hall in Canoas. As in Sao Paulo state,
while the PT was the big loser, the governor was the big
winner in Rio Grande do Sul. Though he remained
ostentatiously neutral in all of the first round races in
his state, reportedly to avoid causing difficulties among
the state's governing alliance, PMDB Governor Germano
Rigotto threw his support to the opposition candidates in
all three cities with run-off races. Though he did not
campaign actively with Jose Fogaca, the PPS victor in Porto
Alegre, until the final days of the campaign, he made his
support for the opposition alliance clear. In his home city
of Caxias do Sul, where the incumbent PT mayor remains very
popular, Rigotto's support was instrumental in helping the
PMDB's Jose Ivo Sartori, defeat the PT's Marisa Formolo.
The PMDB will control city hall in 137 of the state's 496
municipalities, the greatest number of any party in the
state. Overall, parties that comprise Rigotto's governing
base will hold power in a total of 441 cities. The other
winner in the state was the Popular Socialist Party (PPS),
which in addition to winning in Porto Alegre, also ousted
the PT in Pelotas and picked up 3 additional cities in the
first round. The PPS victories in Rio Grande do Sul, which
notably were at the expense of the PT, may strengthen the
"oppositionist" wing of the PPS party, which has suggested
that the party leave the national governing alliance.

--------------------------------------------- ----------

5. The PSDB's victories in Curitiba and Florianopolis, the
capitals of Parana and Santa Catarina states, will bolster
the party's position in a region where it has not previously
had much of a presence. In Curitiba, the PSDB's Beto Richa
convincingly defeated the PT's Angelo Vanhoni (55% to 45%);
Vanhoni had been favored to win until well into the first
round campaign. The city is currently governed by the PFL.
In addition to failing to pick up the capital, the PT lost
control of two of the state's three largest interior cities.
The losses in Parana's big cities will more than offset the
PT's success in more than doubling the number of small to
medium sized cities it governs in the state. Along with the
PT, the big loser in Parana is PMDB governor Roberto
Requiao, who bet heavily on Vanhoni in Curitiba and the
defeated PT incumbents in Ponta Grossa and Maringa. In an
indication of how closely the polemical Governor had become
identified with the PT candidate in Curitiba, the victory
celebration by Richa supporters took place outside the
governor's palace, rather than at one of the more
traditional political gathering points in the city. Former
Governor Jaime Lerner was among many who blamed Requiao for
Vanhoni's defeat, stating that the Governor succeeded in
"burying Vanhoni's candidacy, and that the vote represented
a veto of the Governor's "arrogance and authoritarianism."

6. In Santa Catarina, Dario Berger's win over PP candidate
Chico Assis in Florianopolis will help firm up the PSDB's
still tentative foothold in the state. The PSDB incumbent
won a first round victory in Joinville, the state's largest
city. In both cities, the PSDB candidates benefited from
the active support of PMDB governor Luiz Henrique da Silva,
who thus emerges from the municipal elections strengthened
vis-a-vis the PP's Angela Amin, the outgoing mayor of
Florianopolis and one of his most likely opponents in the
2006 race for governor.


7. The PT's electoral setbacks in the South loomed so large
that even party president Jose Genoino made no attempt to
hide his dismay. The party lost Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre,
the two largest state capitals in the South, and the two
most important cities the PT governs. At the national
level, the PT will undoubtedly spin the election results in
the major cities of Sao Paulo and the South by focusing on
the party's gains in smaller cities and regions outside its
traditional base. It will not be able, however, to disguise
the fact that it suffered serious setbacks, in particular by
losing control of Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre. The PT will
undoubtedly be picking through the entrails of its defeats
there for some time to come. Among the fall-out we
anticipate from this self-examination are a further
weakening of the influence of the leftist gaucho wing of the
party on the national party leadership and the Lula
government, and a heated competition for the PT
gubernatorial nomination in Rio Grande do Sul in 2006. The
PT gubernatorial selection process in Sao Paulo state will
also likely become more complicated, as Marta Suplicy may
well mount an effort to dislodge PT Senator Aloizio
Mercadante from his perch as the reputed party favorite for
the nomination. The PSDB emerged from the elections
energized not only in Sao Paulo but in the southern states
of Parana and Santa Caterina. END COMMENT.

8. This message was coordinated with Embassy Brasilia.


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