Sunday, October 01, 2006

Democracy in Action

Unless you are absurdly or unusually informed, you probably don´t know that today was election day in Brazil. Voting is mandatory for all citizens ages 18-60, I believe, unless you are over 200 kilometers away from your registered voting station (and I´m sure there are other excuses). So, it was a busy day for Brazil in general. These were the major elections-- president, governors, congress and senate, and some other office.

Political campaigning is very different here. It is anything but subtle. For the past month (at least), everytime I go down town I´ve been bombarded with leaflets and handouts and all kinds of gaudy advertising. Each candidate has a number, and when you vote you must enter that number into the machine from memory, so they work hard to make their number seen.

My friend Ivan wanted me to see how this worked, so he invited me to go with him to vote after church. As we neared the voting hall, this is what the street looked like--

These are all political leaflets in some kind of last ditch effort to advertise.

I was allowed to enter with Ivan as he voted, and for a country sometimes known for it´s chaos, it´s really quite advanced in this issue. It´s all electronic, you just go and punch your numbers in an electric machine and leave. It even pops up the picture of the candidate you enter so you can be sure you have the right one.

I found this leaflet on the ground and and tried to get Ivan to vote for him, but he refused.

In the end, it looks like Lula, the current president, will be re-elected. Most people I know are not happy about that. Lula is a north-easterner, and Paulistas (people from São Paulo) were voting rooting for a man named Alckmin (the former mayor of São Paulo, I believe). We´ll see. I´m not too devistated... I am kind of used to disappointing elections. ;)

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