Sunday was election day. There were no football matches, no selling of alcohol for most of the day, and absolutely no controversy about counting the electronically submitted votes. More than 135 million Brazilians voted. The lower house of the federal government will have representatives from 22 different parties, the senate 15 parties. In Brazil, you have the option to vote for no one. Brilliant. Incredibly, there were many dozens of candidates for federal deputy in the state of Rio that didn't even vote for themselves. Their spouses didn't vote for them, their children didn't vote for them. 0 votes! That's as many as I had! From São Paulo, the USAmerican equivalent of Howdy Doody is going to Brasilia where he will be part of a governing body that includes Brazil's 1994 World Cup wining forwards, Bebeto and Romario. The green party presidential candidate, Marina Silva, managed 20% of the vote, forcing a run off between Coke and Pepsi, or if you prefer, Brahma and Skol. There will be no surprises from here on as Lula has fluffed the pillow of his cult of personality enough to ensre that Dilma will have a comfy place to lay her Gorgon-like head.
In so far as any of this has to do with the general trajectory of my reporting, nothing much changed on Sunday, but there were some small victories. Eurico Miranda, the man who stole millions from Vasco da Gama and put the team into financial ruin and the second division, did not get elected. His successor, Roberto Dinamite (a former national team player and Vasco idol), did - though I'm not sure if that is good news or just of passing interest. Rio's former mayor, Cesar Maia, only won 11% in his bid for the Senate. Now that we're all on the way to a system of urban, environmental, and social governance that thinks of return on investment first and fufilling social contracts tenth, Maia's neo-liberal interventions are no longer needed anyway. Maybe Rio 2016 will hire him to do something.
One of the people I discuss in Temples of the Earthbound Gods, Chiquinho da Mangueira, the former head of SUDERJ, got himself elected as a state deputy just ahead of Dinamite. Chiquino abused the image of the Maracanã in his electoral campaign more than any candidate EVER. You'd think he'd built the place himself not presided over the distrouous 2005-2007 reforms.
Did any candidate for any office at any level of government at any time during the campaign season make any comments criticizing the current craze of coughing up currency for constructing colossal and short lived mega-events? Possibly. Unlikely.
Does the voting system work in Brazil? Yes.
Is voting part of participatory democracy? Yes.
Is is sufficient? No.
I had an accidental lunch with a taxi driver today. As he sat down, he commented that the restaurant was without water. He was irate because the owner of the restaurant was so blithe about the situation. The whole neighborhood was without water, e dai? Did anyone complain? Mabye. Was there anyone listening if they did? Probably not. The taxi driver then explained how much he had to pay in taxes to drive his taxi. It was such an absurd number that I shot a black bean from my mouth into my nasal passage. Then he told me how much the flanelinhas were charging to park in Niteroi: R$20. (Fanelinhas are guys who stand on the street and "help" you park.) If you don't pay what they want, you come back and your windows are broken or your tires slashed. Lovely. R$20 is no joke to park on a street that should be free, or have a meter or have some kind of regulated system. Does anyone complain? Yes. Does the problem get addressed? Yes. In the Zona Sul of Rio. Sometimes. He told me he was with a judge one day who never paid the flanelinha, he simply parked and walked away. If something happened, he called some cops on the phone and had them arrest all of the flanelinhas in sight. It's good to be the king.
The point of all this? Democracy is not and should not be limited to the act of voting. Brazilians pay insanely high taxes for the insanely shoddy delivery of public services. The World Cup and Olympics are inherently anti-democratic events, run by anti-democratic institutions, supported by democratically elected individuals, and financed with public money, lots of it. These events and people and institutions are combining to worsen the conditions of Brazilian democracy. There is already a general sense of helplessness in the face of an impossibly complex bureaucracy that simply does not deliver what it should given the amount of money shoveled into it. When FIFA and the IOC come to town, abre a boca Galvão.
At the same time, the voting machines work. There are dozens of political parties. Political discourse is not driven by hatred of immigrants or religious groups or about which party is going to fortify the border with 15,000 or 45,000 more troops. 135 million votes in a country of 190 million is impressive, even though it's a legal requirement. People discuss their political ideas openly in the streets and aren't afraid to have friends with different political views. As with democracy, as with flamenguistas, ninguém perfeito.
2014 World Cup Rio de Janeiro Maracanã 2016 Olympics 2016 Summer Olympics FIFA Eduardo Paes Rio de Janeiro Olympics CBF Ricardo Texeira Copa do Mundo 2014 World Cup 2014 2010 World Cup Vasco da Gama APO White Elephants mega-events BRT Brazil football Lula Orlando Silva UPP ANT Carlos Nuzman Dilma 2007 Pan American Games Eike Batista Flamengo BOPE BRASIL 2016 Brasil 2014 Campeonato Carioca Engenhao Joao Havelange Maracana Novo Maracanã Sergio Cabral Aldeia Maracana Aldo Rebelo Botafogo Corruption Henrique Meirelles Jerome Valcke Medida Provisoria Rio 2016 Sao Paulo World Cup 2010 forced removal stadiums Carnaval Fechadao IOC Marcia Lins Metro Minerao Morumbi Rio+20 Romario Security Walls Sepp Blatter South Africa South Africa 2010 TCU public money slavery Andrew Jennings Argentina Audiencia Publica Barcelona Carvalho Hosken Comitê Popular Copa do Brasil 2010 Crisis of Capital Accumulation EMOP Elefantes Brancos FERJ Fluminese Fonte Novo Leonel Messi London 2012 Marcelo Freixo Odebrecht Olympic Delivery Authority Porto Maravilha Rocinha Soccerex Transcarioca Transoeste Vila Autódromo bicycles consumer society debt idiocy public transportation transparency transportation violence 2004 Olympics 2015 Copa America Banco Imobiliario Barcas SA Belo Horizonte Brasilerao CDURP CONMEBOL Champions League. Mourinho Complexo do Alemão Copa Libertadores Cost overruns Cupula dos Povos ESPN FiFA Fan Fest IMX Jogos Militares John Carioca Jose Marin Kaka Maré McDonald's Obama Olympic Village PPP Paralympics Perimetral Policia Militar Providencia Russia Soccer City Tatu-bola Urban Social Forum Vidigal Vila Olimpica War cities corrupcao drugs football frangueiro futebol mafia planejamento urbano privitization reforms shock doctrine taxes 1995 Rugby World Cup 201 2010 Elections 2010 Vancouver Olypmics 2013 2018 World Cup ABRAJI AGENCO ANPUR ANT-SP Amazonia Andrade Gutierrez Anthony Garotinho Arena Amazonia Arena Pernambucana Athens Avenida das Americas BID Barra de Tijuca Brasil x Cote d'Iviore Brasilia Brasilierao Bruno Souza COB COI COMLURB CPI CPO Caixa Economica Canal do Anil Cantagalo Cesar Maia Chapeu Mangueira Chile 2015 Choque do Ordem Class One Powerboat Racing Companhia das Docas Corinthians Dave Zrin David Harvey Eastwood Edge of Sports England Expo Estadio Expo Urbano Favela do Metro Fluminense Fonte Nova Gamboa Garotinho Geostadia Ghana Greek Debt Crisis Greek Olympics IPHAN ISL Iniesta Invictus Istanbul 2020 Itaquerao Jacque Rogge Jefferson Jose Beltrame Julio Grondona Julio Lopes Knights Templar Korea Lei Geral da Copa MAR MEX Manaus Manchester United Mangabeira Unger Marina da Gloria Mexico Milton Santos Molotov Cocktail Mr.Balls Museu do Indio Nicholas Leoz Nilton Santos Olympic Flag Olympic Park Project Pacaembu Pan American Games Parque Olimpico Pernambuco Plano Popular do Maracana Porto Alegre Porto Olimpico Porto Seguro Praca Tiradentes Preview Projeto Morrinho Quatar 2022 RSA Realengo Recife Regis Fichtner Roberto Dinamite Russia 2018 SETRANS SMH Salvador Santa Teresa Santos Sao Raimundo Sargento Pepper Security Cameras South Korea São Januário Templars Tropa do Elite II UFRJ/IPPUR URU USA Unidos da Tijuca United States government Victory Team Vila Autodromo Vila Cruzeiro Vila do Pan Vilvadao Vivaldao Volta Alice Wasteland Workers' Party World Cup 2018 Xaracana Xavi apartments atrazos attendance figures barrier beer bio-fuels bonde civil society copa sudamericana crack crime estadios estádios favelalógica feira livre fiador flooding freedom of information furos geral graffiti guarda municipal host city agreement identity ipanema istoe labor militarization riots schedule school shooting security segregation social movements state of exception supervia ticket prices tourism traffic tragedy trash trem-bala velodromo wikileaks xingar