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São Paulo Election 2020: An Overview Of The Political Scenario

On the next Sunday, 29, São Paulo will prepare for the second round of municipal elections. The candidates Bruno Covas (PSDB) and Guilherme Boulos (PSOL) will run for mayor of the most populous city in the country.

The participation of the population in the decision occurs through the votes and this is extremely important, even with the pandemic of COVID-19. According to Isabella Cunha, Master in Political Science at UFMG, the elections are central to democracy, “reading a government plan is essential to know the priority of that candidate and analyze which political positioning has to do with what you think is ‘a good policy’”. She also adds that not positioning is not a choice, especially when it comes to politics and the actual scenario.

Therefore, it’s important to ask: have you chosen your candidate? What do you know about him and his proposals? Do you know what are the greatest difficulties of São Paulo and what each of them plans to do to solve these issues?

The mayor problems in São Paulo city

São Paulo is a great city – center of one of the world's largest megalopolises – that has complex and latent problems from housing, urban mobility, unemployment, education, economic, health issues to racism, LGBTphobia and chauvinism. Besides that, the city also has to deal with problems triggered by some of these early mentioned, such as poverty, urban violence and social vulnerability, including issues related to the homeless population in the peripheries, central regions and Cracolândia.

The Doctor in Political Science and professor of public policy at UFABC, Ivan Fernandes, points out the importance of putting proposals, to overcome these difficulties, into practice. For him, among the several deficits that affect the city, Cracolândia is a very complicated subject and that has never been effectively solved in previous administrations. “There is a great difference between the proposals that were presented by the mayors supported by the PSDB and the ones by PT in the last mandates. The left presents ideas about harm reduction and the right is more related to abstinence policies and hardening of police actions. The Cracolândia is a theme that goes beyond chemical dependence. It’s also about the appropriation of urban space, finding a solution for these vulnerable people, and dealing with consequences and implications for public security”, says.

According to the political scientist from the Instagram page “Uma Cientista Social”, Master in Political Science at UFSCar, when analyzing the government plan of the two candidates, it is possible to realize that the path that Boulos intends to follow if elected would be related to innovation, with many proposals aimed to the social policy. While Covas presents a plan of continuity of what has already been done in his management, with some changes and new proposals.

The pandemic of COVID-19

Another aspect that is strongly emphasized by the political scientists is the COVID-19 pandemic. It has impacted society life on a global scale in many different ways. Ivan Fernandes states that São Paulo is always a complex city to deal with because of its inequality and heterogeneity, and all these were intensified during that period. “It's an immediate challenge: there's a very big crisis instituted. The economy was down, so the municipalities had to equip themselves and provide health resources for the population, while having lost collection in public accounts. The position that politicians had during this period will count a lot for the voter. I believe it will greatly reduce the number of mayors who were denialists and tried to ignore the needs, avoiding adopting control measures”, he adds.

Thinking about the pandemic and a possible re-election of Bruno Covas, Isabella Cunha states that the way he behaved along this year matters a lot, since it has impacted health, education, social assistance and transportation. The direct impact on the economy, work and income divided opinions and the association can be positive or negative from the electorate’s perspective.

Regarding a possible future, Cunha explains the difficulty of making projections in a scenario like COVID-19 created, even thinking of a second wave probability. For her, it’s essential to talk about how the pandemic bring out the social and gender inequality: in addition to the obvious issues of access to health, the worst victims are women, the black population and people who work informally and who live in more precarious areas. It is necessary, then, that the governments take scientific knowledge into consideration and put into practice a robust policy of contribution of financial resources directed to the most vulnerable sectors of the population. She also complements that the pandemic has made explicit the perverse aspects of capitalism, and it is essential to guarantee democracy and a dignified life for people.

In any case, it is already possible to see, through the result of the second round throughout Brazil, a different trend people’s mindset. Polarization, which is a growing phenomenon around the world, including in Brazil, has been softened in these elections. President Jair Bolsonaro, for example, no longer has so many allies around the country. For the political scientist behind the Instagram page, municipal elections made it able to be analyzed. “In recent years, much has been discussed about the need for renewal and change in policy. Issues such as equality, tolerance and respect for minorities have also gained a little more space in this scenario. It can build a new political scenario for São Paulo”, she adds.

Regardless of who will be elected, the future mayor of São Paulo will surely have hard work ahead. So, make a good research about the proposals of each candidate, make your choice for São Paulo and be prepared for Sunday. The polls are waiting for you!


The article above was edited by Beatriz Cristina.

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Bárbara Vetos

Casper Libero '23

A latin american journalism student who talks about politics when she can - and when she cannot :)
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