Brazil Table of Contents
On October 3, 1996, voters in 5,581 municipalities chose mayors and city councils. Only thirty-one cities held runoff elections on November 15. Big gains were made by the PSDB and the PFL, which took the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Recife for the first time, while a divided PMDB declined considerably. Paulo Maluf elected his successor as mayor of São Paulo, thereby reinforcing his future political ambitions. On the left, the Workers' Party suffered reverses, and the PSB advanced.
Generally, issues were local and not national, and women had increased participation, boosted by the new 20 percent quota rule for proportional elections. About 142 federal deputies decided to run in these local elections, but only forty-two won and thus left the Congress. The apparent desire for administrative continuity enhanced the arguments in favor of the reelection amendment.
Brazil has very intense and diversified interest groups. Before 1964 the most visible were labor unions, student organizations, and business groups, which exercised their pressures more on Congress than on the executive branch. During the military period, especially from 1969 to 1974, interest groups continued to operate but almost exclusively vis-à-vis the executive branch. In 1983, when it became apparent that a political transition would take place, Congress again became the focal point of interest groups. The most explicit example of this trend was the ANC (National Constituent Assembly), when literally thousands of lobbyists--one researcher catalogued 121 noninstitutional groups--descended on Brasília.
Data as of April 1997