Sunday, November 7, 2010

Brazilian Elections

If I were to say "I'm so glad elections are over!" you would probably say "me too!" If I were to say "I'm so glad the bumper stickers are gone...and the TV ads...and the robocalls..." you would probably say "me too!" If I were to say "I'm so glad the streets are quiet..." you would probably say "huh?"

Some of you may remember two years ago my post about the local city elections. I was pretty excited because I got to (had to) vote and it was my first time voting in Brazil. This time around, it was still exciting because we were voting for president, but it lost its luster as soon as the dreaded political jingles started waking me up at inconvenient times and disrupting my quiet life.

The biggest way that political candidates advertise their candidacy is by BLASTING their campaign jingles. Here we vote by a candidate's election ID number, so the jingle has to be annoying enough to get stuck in your head and permanently burn the candidate's number into your brain so that you will remember it on election day. They start about two months ahead of the elections and drive around the city all day long, every day of the week. The richer the candidate, the more money he has to rent giant sound cars and, sometimes, trucks the size of a parade float. This year the elections were for governor, state reps, federal reps, federal senators, and the president. The good news is that, since those positions are a bit more prestigious than city councilman, there were fewer candidates and thus fewer jingles. The bad news is there were still jingles. And lots of 'em.

Election day was blissful. On election day the sound cars are silenced and the Brazilian people are allowed to go to the polling stations in peace. Due to Brazil's high-tech voting system, soon after polls closed at 5pm we knew who had won. Our state's new governor was announced, as were our reps and senators. Only the presidential election was sent into a runoff because none of the candidates got 50% of the vote. But the presidential runoff was still 3 weeks away, and so I began to dream of my life going back to normal. I live on one of the main thoroughfares through town, so my street had been heavily trafficked by ALL of the campaign cars.

The day after the election I was leaving for a trip to Sao Paulo at 3:30 am. I went to bed at midnight, planning on getting 3 hours of sleep before leaving for the airport. At approximately 1:58 am, I was jolted awake by the sound of a campaign jingle. "This isn't right," I thought. "The election is over. And it's 2am!" I looked out my window and saw a small group of people gathered on the corner, waving the new governor's flag and dancing to her jingle. I was pretty frustrated, knowing I would lose one full hour of sleep before going to the airport. I went back to bed, hoping that I would be sleepy enough to drown it out. Wrong. Minutes later, this happened:

That's right. That's the new governor's victory parade, which paraded by my apartment for at least half an hour. The crackling sounds are fireworks. The song is one of her campaign jingles, one of the many that I heard for two straight months. The people dancing in the street are probably drunk. All of this footage was taken from my bedroom window, where I was obviously not sleeping but thankfully lucid enough to grab my camera and document it as probably no one would believe me if I were to just tell the story. At some point the new governor rode by on one of the trucks, but I can't remember if it's on the video.

Oh yeah, and the female candidate won the presidential runoff last Sunday. I thought it was pretty cool that I got to witness and participate in Brazilians electing their first woman president!

Maybe NOW things will quiet down....


Hi, I'm Deanna. said...

That is wild! It is very funny to read about but I am sure it was not funny at the time. Glad you got it on video. See you in the next year maybe?!?! :)

Lacy Almeda Hefley said...

Was that election TWO years ago? Wow. I had no problem handling the commercials and signs everywhere for candidates here. My street was quiet. d