BRASILIA Oct 6 A shift to the right in Brazil's
municipal elections should help President Michel Temer's
government enact unpopular legislation to curb public spending
and avert a budgetary crisis after 13 years of profligate
Temer's main coalition ally, the right-leaning Brazilian
Social Democracy Party (PSDB), emerged as the winner from
Sunday's voting. Its resurgence was symbolized by media
businessman Joao Doria's mayoral election victory in Sao Paulo.
A political outsider who is an outspoken advocate of
privatizations and fiscal belt tightening, Doria wrested control
of Brazil's largest city from the leftist Workers Party as
voters punished its involvement in a corruption scandal.
Combined with a solid national performance by Temer's own
Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), the government
emerged in a stronger position to overcome resistance in
Congress and on the streets of Brazil from the left-leaning
opposition, politicians and analysts said.
Temer's flagship reform, a constitutional amendment that
would cap public spending in line with inflation for 20 years,
will face the first of four votes in Congress early next week,
where the Workers Party has vowed to block the measure.
Sunday's vote handed a heavy defeat to the Workers Party,
which lost more than half its mayors, leaving it in a far weaker
position for organizing popular protests and campaigning for
future legislative elections.
Many voters expressed anger at the leftist party for leading
Brazil into its worst recession since the 1930s and for its
leading role in the country's biggest corruption scandal,
centered on state oil company Petrobras.
"The PT reaped what it sowed," said lawmaker Rubens Bueno,
leader of the Popular Socialist Party (PPS) in the lower
chamber. "Voters said they want an organized country without
corruption and bad government. They want fiscal discipline."
The PSDB, by contrast, hailed the election result as an
endorsement of its platform for leaner government, the
privatization of state enterprises and transparent,
better-managed public accounts.
"The country is demanding fiscal austerity, exemplary
political conduct and managerial skills in government," said
Senator Paulo Bauer, the PSDB leader in the upper chamber.
He said his party will fully back the reforms proposed by
Temer and oppose any attempts to water them down.
Temer is staking his political reputation on getting the
constitutional amendment through Congress this year, before
turning a broader agenda of reforms in 2017.
His government has pledged to overhaul Brazil's overburdened
pension system, the main cause of a deficit that ballooned to 10
percent of GDP last year, and Temer wants to introduce a minimum
Debate has also started on vital political reforms to reduce
the proliferation of parties - 28 in Congress and 35 registered
in the country - that makes Brazil so hard to govern. The
fragmentation has been blamed for fostering corruption by
necessitating broad coalition and deal making in Congress.
Reform of outdated labor laws that make Brazil less
competitive is perhaps the toughest challenge facing Temer. It
is certain to encounter stern resistance from leftist parties,
labor unions, and even sectors of his PMDB, a geographically and
politically diverse party.
Although Temer governed as interim president since May, he
only officially took over from president Dilma Rousseff in
August when she was dismissed by the Senate for breaking budget
With his term expiring at the next presidential election in
2018, Temer has little time to fix Brazil's problems. He has
said he wants to put South America's biggest nation back on
track before leaving office, and has pledged not to seek
"There has been an important shift in the balance of forces
among the parties that will add to the pressure for reforms, and
that will help Temer," said political scientist Bolivar
Congress, elected in 2014, still has many lawmakers who will
resist the reforms, Lamounier said.
But Doria's victory in Sao Paulo was an indication that
Brazil's political climate may be shifting fast.
"Doria's election shows how far things have changed in
Brazil and how quickly those changes have reached the
electorate," said Brasilia political analyst Thiago de Aragao.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Grant McCool)