By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last night, Wednesday, November 26th, over twenty thousand supporters came to Arcos da Lapa (Lapa Arches) in Rio’s Centro neighborhood, to cheer on Rio mayoral candidate Marcelo Freixo in his last major rally before the second round of the mayoral election on Sunday, October 30th. Freixo, from the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), is facing off against evangelical senator and Brazilian Republican Party (PRB) candidate, Marcelo Crivella, in Sunday’s run-off to decide Rio’s next mayor.
Freixo, a former history teacher and current state deputy, is well known for his 2008 crusade as head of a government commission that investigated political corruption and Rio’s military police. His actions inspired the hero of Brazil’s largest grossing film ever, Tropa de Elite 2 (Elite Squad: The Enemy Within).
In front of throngs of supporters on Wednesday, the left-leaning candidate said he was confident of winning Sunday’s election and urged voters not to cast a null or blank vote.
“Four days [until the election] to change four years,” exclaimed Freixo to supporters and journalists. “We are growing and the confidence of the membership is very large. This time there will be a vote of confidence and not the null vote. I’m pretty confident that we’ll turn around and win this election.”
Despite Freixo’s optimism, heading into the run-off, the latest figures from polling agency, Datafolha, shows Crivella maintaining a substantial lead with 46 percent of prospective voters indicating they would vote for the conservative evangelical bishop against 27 percent planning to vote for Freixo. Nineteen percent of prospective voters intend to cast a null vote, and eight percent are undecided.
Diving deeper into Datafolha’s latest poll, Crivella has a big advantage over Freixo among older voters (46 percent to 23 percent), among lower-income voters (54 percent to 19 percent), and unsurprisingly, among evangelicals (70 percent to 12 percent). One important segment where Freixo leads Crivella is among Rio’s young, with a modest 41 percent to 34 percent advantage.
Arguably, the candidate’s last chance to close the gap between him and Crivella will be the pivotal third and final mayoral debate, which will take place this Friday, October 28th on TV Globo.
In the first round of Municipal elections, held on Sunday, October 2nd, Crivella won 27.78 percent of the vote, with Freixo getting 18.26 percent.