RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro failed because most of the dozens of candidates he supported in the municipal elections failed to secure victories or places in the runoff.
In more than 5,500 cities, Brazilians voted for mayors and municipal councilors on Sunday. The wave of political renewal that catapulted Bolsonaro to the presidency two years ago seems to have disappeared in the face of prominent candidates and traditional parties that garnered the most votes in the two most populous cities. Of the nearly 60 candidates the leader backed, only nine have advanced, according to a selection by the Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.
Bolsonaro, who is not currently affiliated with any political party, had said he would not run in the election campaign, but in recent weeks he has turned to social media to promote a dozen mayoral and councilor candidates.
Bruno Carazza, a professor of economic law at the Brazilian business school Ibmec, said that Bolsonaro had not made a concerted effort to gather supporters in the municipal elections and had lost the opportunity to “prepare the ground for the 2022 elections”
The president deleted a post on the social network with a list of candidates he had supported and tried to distance himself from their poor results. Only two mayors, backed by the president, secured a seat in the second round.
“My help for several mayoral candidates was summarized by 4 live social media broadcasts in a total of 3 hours,” he wrote.
Presidential adviser Philippe Martins was more likely to be disappointed, writing on Twitter that the opposition had made significant progress.
“Either we make the necessary self-criticism, or our mistakes will be paid for at an even higher price in the future,” Martins wrote.
One of Bolsonaro’s biggest disappointments came in Sao Paulo, where his chosen candidate – TV presenter and federal MP Celso Rusomano (Republicanos) – placed fourth. Incumbent Mayor Bruno Covas (PSDB party) did not garner enough votes to avoid a run-off against opponent Guillermo Boulos (PSOL party), a critic of Bolsonaro.
In Rio de Janeiro, former mayor Eduardo Paes (DEM party) took a broad lead over current mayor Marcelo Crivella (Republican Party), one of two candidates for mayor backed by Bolsonaro to run
“The vote was not an assessment of the presidential administration, but rather a political thermometer of the country,” said Mauricio Santoro, a professor of political science at Rio de Janeiro State University. “The voter was more cautious, targeting more experienced and moderate politicians than the anti-systemic elections in 2018.”
About 148 million people had the right to vote across the country, and voting is compulsory for Brazilians between the ages of 18 and 70.