Local Elections

The other day, my daughter and I were leaving her school and a group of young adults were hanging around in front of the building. (Just a note here… this happens rather often. A couple days ago a group of young adults were playing games with the kids and handing out promo items for Radio Disney and some new show on Disney Channel. Another discussion.)

One this particular day, a young man handed me this:



A sheet of people stickers with no writing on it other than what is on their shirts – SERRA45. This meant nothing to me. No other explanation.


My daughter happily slapped the stickers on paper when we got home and I thought that was the end of it. Until a man standing on the street corner handed me a postcard of himself with a similar digit on it. Ok. I get it. There was going to be an election.

I began to notice more election propaganda and also that it seemed very sparse. Sometimes there would be a slogan, as in this case:(And it looks like Serra the sticker guy is backing these two.)

Sometimes just a name and  a bunch of numbers:


Sometimes just numbers:

Interesting tactic to use numbers. Last time I went to vote, I was really only aware of the few people I was interested in, including the President, and the other 30 options to vote I did rather randomly. But maybe if I had a bunch of numbers in my head, I would have been more targeted regardless if I believed in what the people stood for in the election.

And what do they stand for? How do you find out here? There’s not much in the way of info on the promo material. And what do the numbers even mean?

Asking my husband, who has kind of forgotten as he had been away for ten years, the numbers have something to do with the party (FYI – there are many more parties here than just the two we have… three sometimes…).  There’s not much on the internet in way of explanation. For me, it doesn’t matter too much since I can’t vote anyway. But if I could, I would for sure remember 45 and 12. I just wouldn’t know what they mean.

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40 Responses to Local Elections

  1. Kristin says:

    45 is PSDB the Social democratic party. 13 is Partida de Trabalhadores, the worker’s party. Lula, Dilma, Haddad, all worker’s party or PT. If the number is 45012 or something to that effect, it is a guy from PSDB running for federal representative. This makes things work a bit like in the US–you can vote for a party only by voting “45” –straight PSDB ticket–or you could add some more numbers and get Mr. Cobra (translated as Mr. Snake, perhaps not a winning political name) above. Here, for you edification is the wikipedia article on it! http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anexo:Lista_de_partidos_pol%C3%ADticos_no_Brasil

    • Kristin says:

      Ah, and behind Mr. Cobra is his mommy, Mrs. Cobra Senior. She must have been a successful politician before her son…and so he wants to remind everyone that she’s got his ear. Nice, right? I love Brazilian politics. I don’t understand half of it…and I will never get Brazil citizenship because I’d hate to actually have to figure it out…

  2. I dislike the extra layer of numbers in the election- it seems ripe for mistakes!

    I hope I can vote next round. I gotta get my paperwork together for citizenship!

    • Andrew Francis says:

      Actually numbers make it very simple. You can take a “cheatsheet” with you into the booth and the electronic voting machine shows you a picture of the candidate you’ve typed in before asking you to confirm. In the old days, people could write the name of the candidate on the ballot. Not only did it make things difficult for people who can’t read and write, but the election officials would spend a lot of time deciphering people’s handwriting. That was a lot more error-prone.

      • Kristin says:

        And it goes without saying that Brazil is leap years ahead of the US on the electronic voting…as a Florida voter, now absentee, I hang my head in shame…

      • I disagree. Of course with a name you don’t need a cheat sheet and a check box works fine….. so why do you think numbers makes it simple?

        Have you ever voted anywhere/been in a voter booth but in Brazil? I look forward to seeing what it’s actually like on the day.

        • juliana says:

          you would need a cheatsheet you you have a terrible memory. the partys always have the same number so it’s easy o remember.

        • Jennifer, with 100+ names for Vereador, I’d like to see that ballot. Look at the numbers: the first two identifies the party. There are three other to identify the candidate. That it is expected that each party would be able to have an excess of 100 candidates. Not practical.

          Another info: it is very common on this kind of pamphlets to have instructions for voting on the back, with the keys in the order they should be pressed to choose that candidate. And their picture shows up in the voting machine before you confirm and cast your vote. From a user experience point of view, it’s quite remarkable.

  3. Andrew Francis says:

    BAB, to be fair, you didn’t really expect them to be handing out thick books with all of the candidate’s policies and promises at every street corner, did you? I think you have similar ways of finding out about the candidates (if you really care) in Brazil compared to the US: newspapers, TV, websites, campaign offices, etc.

    • No, but there is definitely some space to offer up a few general notions on what these jokers are going to support.

      • Andrew Francis says:

        Fair enough. Anything that improves the actual discussion of ideas and plans during elections is worth a shot, even if most Brazilians already have a general notion of what each candidate (or party) stands for because it doesn’t change that much, just like Republicans and Democrats in the US.

  4. Kristin says:

    I’d like a nice Obama and Michelle sticker book.

  5. It seems most American expats in Brazil are Democrats. Makes me wonder where all the reasonable people are hidding 🙂
    Good luck in Sp if Russomano or Haddad win: you will be praising Bush after experiencing either one of these morons.

    – Ron Paul para prefeito de São Paulo.
    – Cardoso/Romney in the White House, 2012.
    – Gritty/ Bee-eigh-bee for presidency of a future Brazilian-American Confederation.
    Capital: Honolulu
    National Dishes: Hominy Grits, Deep-Dish Pizza, Root Beer Float, Guaraná
    National Mascot: Alex

  6. Alex will be groomed for future president, hence he must start young as a mascot so to interact and get to know the people of the confederation. I will carry on as King.

  7. Corinne says:

    check out the obligatory “horário eleitoral” on TV several times a day. The candidates for municipal legislator and federal representative get time based on the percentage of seats their party has currently in office. Some only get a minute and need a catchy one-liner. The election is the 7th of October, with a run-off (if need be) the end of October, so brace yourself for more propaganda in the next few weeks 🙂

  8. Tv stations get a 80% tax refund for that “free airtime”. There is no free lunch.
    As a citizen you get no such thing for having to sit thru the excruciating experience that is Horário Eleitoral. As a matter of fact your taxes will be called upon to make up for the revenue lost by the state due to the stations deductions, plus you also get to “contribute” to a fund which doles out money to political parties (Fundo Partidário). When you lay your eyes on the candidates you are sponsoring suddenly Val starts resembling Einstein.
    I prefer the American system based on private donations: after all if a movement can’t even organize and mobilize in order to finance their cause then how good can they be at actually running something? I see it as a litmus test.

  9. Rachel says:

    We were in Aterro today and there was a mini parade for a candidate. It is insane!

  10. Hi BAB!
    I was missing your blog, but I made a promise to keep myself away from addictive blogs until I had some projects approved here at the office. Now I’m free to read your blog again and my projects are all on the way.
    I wrote two posts about the coming elections. I’m open to questions!

  11. Kristin says:

    Okay. My all time favorite thing about Brazilian election campaign posters: the nicknames. I guess it’s to help remind people of who they are. So today’s winner was “Olindo da açougue” or the pretty guy from the butcher’s shop! I’ll vote for him. Oh wait, I can’t.

    • I think Olindo is actually his name, as opposed to “o lindo” which means “the beautiful one”. It wouldn’t surprise me though if the name “Olindo” is derived from “o lindo”; but I could be wrong. Anyway I think Olindo do açougue refers to Olindo, the dude that works down at the butcher shop. Makes me wonder about his platform, and if he fears alienating the vegetarian vote (probably not since said block usually rallies behind João da quitanda).

      • Kristin says:

        Indeed, Gritty, Olindo is a name and derived from “the pretty or beautiful one”. Like Linda is in many languages. I have also seen one guy listed as xxx “from the pharmacy”. And once in Sao Jose dos Campos, I saw Dr. Machuca (or Doctor Hurt) running for office. It’s always the direct translations that amuse me. And LOL on the Quitanda vote…the voting block of vegetarians is pretty small in Brazil, methinks…

  12. Sarah says:

    OK, I’ve been so busy with the elections that I totally missed your post! But now I’m back. About the silly names, there are millions….I could go on and on. One funny example is “xx do Gás” – the gas delivery guy – who was just elected here.

  13. Sarah says:

    Thanks! Not enough to get elected, but he did really well – considering there were over 500 candidates, 50th or so is quite impressive…! (Especially considering the ridiculous budgets and no-holds-barred campaigning that happens here.) So glad it’s all over now! But the reason that I was going to comment (even though the discussion has been over for weeks) is just to point out why the number system – although annoying – is useful. Just think – if São Paulo has over a thousand candidates, how many of them must have very similar names? The campaign jingle industry makes a fortune off the number system, I’m sure….every single candidate has to have a catchy song that will help people (especially those with low levels of literacy) memorize the number. And then a bunch of cars with loudspeakers playing it endlessly for three months straight! (If you find it confusing, just ask Elis – she knows all the main parties’ numbers, just from being bombarded for the last few months, poor thing!)

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