Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO – First, here’s the good news for all residents of the State of Rio, especially those who run businesses in tourist destinations like Búzios and Itatiaia: start planning for an enjoyable long weekend starting October 30th and running through All Souls Day, November 2nd, because all four days are going to be available for leisure.
Now, here’s more good news, or bad news, depending upon your political persuasion. The reason people are going to leave Rio de Janeiro in droves on October 29th and 30th is because there is not going to be a second ballot on Sunday, October 31st in the State of Rio de Janeiro. Dilma will be elected President on the first ballot October 3rd, and Sérgio Cabral will be re-elected Governor that same day.
Voting at all elections is obligatory in Brazil. If people do not vote, they must pay a fine. Brazil does not have absentee or mail-in ballots, nor does it permit people to vote at a polling station different from the one where they are registered. You can go to a different polling station and prove you were out of town, but that’s a hassle. Besides, if you’re a responsible voter, you want to support your favored candidate.
So, if you’d been thinking about snorkeling at Ilha Grande around the end of October you would probably not go on Saturday, because you’d have to come back to Rio on Sunday to vote, and you would probably not go on Monday either just to spend one more day.
Brazilian electoral law only requires a second round in races for executive branch positions. So, in the first round of balloting, if no candidate for President or Governor obtains fifty percent plus one of the valid votes, a second round must be held between the top two vote-getters in the first round. On the other hand, if candidates for both President and Governor do receive fifty percent-plus one of the valid votes, there will be no need for a second round.
The Curmudgeon is quite sure that both Dilma and Cabral will win on the first round, because they have both hitched their wagons ever so tightly to Lula’s star, which is shining brightly indeed. Most poor, lower and middle class Brazilian citizens are better off now than they were eight years ago when Lula took office. Most of these voters attribute this improvement to Lula.
Moreover, serious people around the world now listen to the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, and treat him with respect, even if they disagree with what he says. Hosting both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games was an impossible dream, but the impossible has happened. Most Brazilians attribute this miracle to Lula.
Dilma and Cabral have promised the voters to continue the Lula regime—and the Curmudgeon is sure that more than half of the voters in the state of Rio will vote for continuity on October 3rd. So get your scuba gear or hiking boots ready, because a long holiday weekend “feriadão” beckons enticingly.