Monday, 1 November 2010

What could the UK learn from the Brazilian election process?

Election time is a funny time to come to Brazil. I can't help but notice how seriously people take voting here as opposed to in the UK (with the most recent elections there excluded of course). 

This term has seen a bout of 2 new contenders - Jose Serra and Dilma Rousseff - and is different from previous elections as the rather 'stern' faced (and that's putting it politely) Dilma is the first female to even get close to the presidential crown.

What is curious to me however is that in Goias (and most likely other states) it is not the main presidential race that gets people fired up, it is the race for who will be the next Governador (Governor) of the state.

Everywhere I have been recently has had some form of election propaganda. For example Anapolis had flags up and down the central aisle of their main streets with the names of the two state candidates, and Quirinopolis has had a permanent fixture of supporters for the Marconi camp in the city centre (permanently drilling out a theme song with a chorus which sounds like 'Marconi vai caga, vai caga' which when translated means 'Marconi go make shit, go make shit').

Yesterday was election day and it finally reached its peak with what can only be described as mortars being fired into the air over and over again in celebration. It was bloody annoying. On the plus side however there were many parties going on with beer flowing and barbeque's providing a plentiful feast of beef, pork, and of course chicken hearts. Mmmmm, nice.

Everyone was listening to their radios to get the latest results and see who was going to win, and at the halfway point it was obvious that Marconi was going to beat Iris. With the news in, all those in the Iris camp quickly ran out of their houses and started tearing off their stickers of support from their cars so they wouldn't get the piss ripped out of them. They did of course - people just laughed in their faces. 

That was when the parties really began. 

Heading down to the lake in Quirinopolis there was probably at least 1,000 people out celebrating the results driving their cars round in circles, permanently beeping their horns, and waving the flags of the victor. Trunks of cars were open as music was blasted out of the oversized speakers so common in the cars of the Brazilian male (one guy had cut out the interior of both his front car doors and lined them with speakers. I asked him how he managed to get out once inside and he said he just wound down the window and opened it from the outside. That's logic for you). Some guy even passed us a beer through the window. Kind of him I thought. I expect most people here have hangovers today which is why the city seems somewhat subdued...

Maybe it's the fact that everyone has to vote or they get fined, or the fact that people don't want a repeat of previous military rule that everyone takes the elections seriously. I like it though - everyone here talks about the election, has an interest in it, and tries to make a difference. With the electronic voting system as well the results are known almost straight away - much faster than the UK's paper system, and makes it much more interesting from a bystanders point of view. Overall it just seems much more of a participant activity than the UK where it seems more passive.

Oh, as to who won the main election, that would be Dilma, the first female president of Brazil. Was it just coincidence that this historic moment happened just as I came over to Brazil? I think not, as I'm the leading figure in the Female Equality Movement (FEM) she's been on the bloody phone to me non-stop getting my input on what to do next. I made her goddamit.

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