By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The presidential contest that will pit Dilma Rousseff against José Serra in a run-off round was the only inconclusive electoral race as far as Rio de Janeiro is concerned, with the state reelecting its incumbent governor Sérgio Cabral by a comfortable majority along with two senators, Lindberg Farias and Marcelo Crivella, and 46 federal, as well as seventy state deputies.
Cabral, who is elected to stay in power as the governor of the Rio de Janeiro state for another four years by securing 66.1 percent of the votes, voiced his gratitude to the public for what he saw as a vote of confidence, in his victory speech.
In an interview on Monday, Cabral, who will not be eligible to run for a third term but would be allowed to run for other offices on both state and federal levels, has confirmed that this election was the last one of his political career.
“I don’t want to be a senator or a state deputy”, said Cabral, “I want to end my term in the office on December 31st 2014, and hand over a much better state than that which I took over in 2007.”
Praised for his efforts in the pacification of favelas through the creation and deployment of Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP, Police Pacification Units) during his governorship, Cabral has also emphasized the need to make improvements in health care by establishing hospital networks that provide high-quality care, especially in the interior regions of the state that tend to be overlooked.
Also on the table is the construction of Linha 3 of Metrô Rio, the third subway line that will connect the municipalities of Niterói and São Gonçalo, two important and populous cities neighboring Rio.
Confirming that education will be a priority and one of the most challenging issues in the next four years, Cabral stated that his first term “slowed down the deterioration of education”, while admitting that they failed to see any substantial progress.
Throughout his campaign, Cabral had the support of the PT (Workers’ Party) along with fourteen other parties; and having secured his reelection, he sees it as his duty to direct his energy to supporting Dilma and help ensure her victory on October 31st.
As to the contest for the two Senate seats, the candidates who openly supported the Lula government have emerged victorious in Rio de Janeiro, as Lindberg Farias, the ex-mayor of Nova Iguaçu, was elected with 28.7 percent, and the incumbent senator Marcelo Crivella was reelected with 22.7 percent of votes.
The biggest upset has been for Cesar Maia, who, despite having served three terms as the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, faced the biggest defeat of his career by coming in fourth in the race for senator with only eleven percent of the votes.
Election day in Rio de Janeiro was not without incident, as long lines and extended waiting times at polling stations prevented some districts from closing at the stipulated 5PM, and 111 people were arrested on suspicion of election-day campaigning, a felony in Brazil, according to the TRE-RJ (State Electoral Court).
Comlurb, the municipal urban cleaning company of Rio, also reported that they have removed over 500 tons of electoral garbage in the city, working over a 24-hour period to remove the illegal posters, signs, and pamphlets that were scattered all over the city’s streets.