By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – More than 32 million Brazilians went to the polls on Sunday for the second round of municipal elections in 57 cities throughout the country. In Rio de Janeiro, conservative, evangelical bishop, Marcelo Crivella beat left-wing candidate Marcelo Freixo with a nineteen percent lead. In the three largest cities holding second round of elections, however, the real news was that abstention and blank/null ballots surpassed valid votes.
“This behavior [abstention and blank/null votes] has grown in the last two elections,” political scientist Geraldo Tadeu Moreira was quoted as saying by Agencia Brasil.
“It is an indication of the dissatisfaction with the political system. We have a political system with low representation. People are crying out for reforms. This is evident in voter behavior,” added Moreira.
In Rio de Janeiro, for example, the abstention was over 26 percent for this second round of elections, and of those voters who did go to the polls, more than twenty percent voted blank or annulled their ballot.
According to political analysts the large number of abstentions, as well as blank and null votes may be due to the fact Crivella and Freixo represented opposite extremes in politics. “The centrist voters who represent a third of the electorate did not feel represented by these candidates,” concluded Moreira.
The overall results of this year’s elections also show the strengthening of the PSDB, PMDB and PSD parties, all now allies of President Michel Temer. Most of all, however, the 2016 elections will be marked by the sharp decline of the PT (Workers Party) party in local governments across the country. Of the 27 state capitals, the PT only won in Rio Branco, Acre.