Brazil's new parties fail to capitalize on anti-corruption mood
By Silvio Cascione
BRASILIA Oct 3 (Reuters) - Brazil's municipal elections showed that new parties have failed to capitalize on voters' disenchantment with a corruption-tainted political establishment, making it unlikely an outsider will win the 2018 presidential poll.
The political movements nurtured by the anti-corruption street protests of 2013 and 2015, despite a massive presence on social media, won just a handful of mayoral posts and local council seats in Sunday's nationwide polls.
In the first elections since President Dilma Rousseff was dismissed in August for breaking budget rules, her leftist Workers Party lost nearly two-thirds of the cities it controlled, amid a backlash at a massive graft scandal at state oil company Petrobras.
Yet more than 4,000 of Brazil's 5,568 municipalities will remain in the hands of traditional parties aligned with new centre-right President Michel Temer, whose Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) has also been embroiled in the Petrobras investigation.
"We felt like the 300 of Sparta, fighting against the system," said Felipe Camozzato, one of four winning candidates of the New Party, referring to the ancient Greeks' heroic defeat by a far larger Persian force at the battle of Thermopylae.
"We didn't expect to promote change in four years. It's a project for 20, 30, 50 years," said Camozzato, whose party is one of the most popular on Brazilian social media with over 1.2 million Facebook followers.
While new movements have generated an online buzz with pledges to clean up politics, the political machines of Brazil's established parties quietly capitalized on stricter financing rules and a shorter campaign to retain strongholds in smaller towns, a breeding ground for legislative candidates.
The results suggest Brazil's established parties and pork-barrel politics will continue to dominate a fragmented Congress, raising the costs of economic reforms, analysts said. Continuación...