Brazilian and São Paulo politics 2k16 101
Ok so @captainanaisnotonfire asked for an explanation of Brazilian Politics since they have to vote this year for Mayor in São Paulo and have been abroad for a long time. Here’s an overall panorama of how our parties have been working and how’s the scenario, followed by my opinion on the candidates and current mayor of one the biggest cities on earth.
Let’s start with the main parties that have announced their candidates and more or less what they stand for. I’ll link some extra info in portuguese at some points.
PSDB is a right wing party. They will be putting forward businessman and former TV presenter João Dória. Since campaign hasn’t really started yet we don’t know much of what he would promise, except for what he has been saying on interviews, which is basically undo a lot of what Haddad (current mayor, we’ll talk about him in a bit) has done (particularly regarding traffic) and privatizing things. At the primaries, per say, Andrea Matarazzo, who also wanted the nomination, left the party accusing the party of corruption and fraud to favor Dória. (x)
PMDB is a center party that historically leans and allies itself to wherever it has to to win elections. It is also the currently biggest party and the party in charge of the Federal Government. It will have Marta Suplicy as a candidate. She has been mayor of the city before, except… at that time she was from PT, another party, historically from center-left. Proof of PMDB’s near schizophrenic existence is that Martha’s vice will be… Andrea Matarazzo. Yeah. The dude from the right wing party above who left after being put aside in their primaries - and who has consistently badmouthed her through the years too. I know, Brazilian politics are crazy.
PSOL is the real left wing party, proclaimed socialists, and they also will (probably) be nominating a former mayor, Luiza Erundina (and she too was in PT when she was elected).
Before I talk about PT, let’s mention that Celso Russomano will likely run for PRB. Not a big party, he makes a big fuss every year and then never quite makes it much in votes. Besides, he was condemned to a couple of years in prison last year and got out with fines (x) so like maybe don’t even consider him for voting? idk. I remember reading a bunch of shitty stuff about him once but I can’t really remember specifics, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
And PT will have current mayor Fernando Haddad trying his re-election. They’re a center-left party and with a bit of a bad name nowadays cause, if you haven’t been watching the news, they’re the party of former president Lula and current-but-not-in-office-because-of-impeachment-trial president Dilma Rousseff. If you want to understand that mess (and I’d recommend it to get a good vision of Brazil right now) I have a couple of other posts explaining it in detail here and here and I like The Intercept articles on it a lot.
Now, many people have said quite clearly that Haddad is “in the wrong party” and should leave since he publicly never minded disagreeing with other important figures of the party, and he didn’t get condemned in the corruption scandals that are bringing so many people from there down. I’m saying this cause I quite like his answer in an interview on that, which was roughly that he could change, but since all parties are run in corruption that wouldn’t change anything and serve for nothing but fooling people.
But as it is, he is quite unpopular. Partially, it comes from being in PT. A real big part of Brazilians can’t even hear that name anymore and not associate any of their candidates with hate and bad things. But the thing is, in our current political situation, I find it impossible to pick a candidate based on their party. Not only because most of them are, yes, all engulfed in corruption, but because they’re all very fucking similar in playing for winning instead of sticking to their ideals. I have it for myself that voting for people, not parties will do (unless it’s one of those crazy religious right wing parties, but those are a whole other thing).
Let’s talk a little bit about what Haddad has been doing since he’s already in charge and we can judge him as mayor in current-society-standards (cause some of the others have been mayors too, but long ago). His most unpopular politics are the traffic ones, that consisted of reducing the velocities of the fast-speed lanes and some streets, which annoyed a lot of people that, well, want to go faster in the fast speed lanes and are now getting a lot of tickets for speeding (lot’s of people hate him for creating a “ticket industry” because there are A LOT people getting fined now, but let’s be honest, brazilians never follow new laws if they don’t get consequences for not following them so I don’t really see an alternative??). The idea is that by reducing velocities you also reduce the necessary caution distance between vehicles and therefore get more vehicles to go through in a certain period of time, and, surprise surprise, it worked. São Paulo went from the 7th to the 58th position in the “tomtom”, international data center that measures traffic. Some newspapers put the economical crisis in as a factor for that, but truth is the crisis is in the whole country, and no other city fell that much on the rank (x) (x). Some studies also show a reduction in the number of deaths in traffic inside the city, and another appoints that, in fact, most people involved in fatal accidents have been fined with speeding before, so I really don’t see the point of so many people hating on this part of his decisions. Another part of his traffic related policies was creating lots of bus exclusive lanes and lots of bike lanes. That obviously made traffic for cars heavier, but the time spent in public transport decreased and the number of people using cars too (x), while the number of people using bikes increased a lot. Mind you, I use cars, I hate spending time in traffic too, but I know that São Paulo can’t take any more cars, so favoring public transport is far from what I would consider a problem in a mayor, even if it annoys the hell out of people using cars.
Having said that, I’m gonna list some of his policies that I REALLY like and the reason why, if I could vote in São Paulo, i’d be voting for him. He’s been heavily investing in cultural activities, including opening public free cinemas at poorer areas of the city (x) to show more national productions, stimulating then both recreation and the national cinema. He’s invested in changing the lights in the city to LED, which are more efficient and cleaner, and instead of starting with the richer neighborhoods, he installed them in the poorer ones first (which ends dark alleys and creates some more safety) (x). He has a fabulous drug rehabilitation program that I have detailed here. He was the first mayor to create a solid plan regarding floods in the city (!!!!! I know, right? the most common thing ever here and we didn’t even have a proper plan to tackle it before his government. Read more about it here, it’s really kinda cool). He created a plan to recycle leftover food in the open markets that would go to the trash as compost (x). And a plan to make sure there are meals made from organic food in public schools (x) that favor local producers and food quality. He’ll have two new hospitals done by the end of the year, and the third he promised just isn’t finished cause the state government asked for a part of the lot for the subway (x) (x). And the most popular one, opening Paulista Av. for pedestrians and bikes only on Sundays, so it became a leisure space and stimulated, again, culture. Oh, and the city tour buses, cause yeah, one the biggest city in the world didn’t have a proper city tour plan to stimulate basic tourism before (x). Aaand out of his 100 campaign promises, he got 95 done, some even overdone, which is way high for a brazilian politician (x). Plus The LGBT support centers (x) and taking the name of dictators off streets (x) and starting technology free spaces to teach anyone how to code and offer 3D printers to small business people that wouldn’t be able to afford them (x), and, and, and… Y’all can see that I could go on on this list, cause he’s one of the few politicians I have actually followed up closely in the past year. AND, in case you think I’m a biased brazilian… Well, Wall Street Journal did call him a visionary. (x) And The New York Times (x) (x). And The Wire (x). And the Mayor of Paris (x). I’ll stop myself here cause this is getting too long and you’ve all have got the point.
When campaign really starts we’ll see what the other candidates bring (or promise to bring), of course, then there’ll be real debate, but for now… I know one that at least will get stuff I value done, so… that’s my opinion. I hope it helped all the confused people about this city’s politics… It’s definitively not an easy ride. And it will likely be a hard run for all of the candidates too.