From municipal elections to the mensalão, from dams to deforestation, for the slowing economy and the booming middle class, 2012 was big for Brazil. The year began with devastating building collapses in Rio de Janeiro, and ended with a farewell to world-renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer.
In between, Brazil saw Rio+20, gay marriage in São Paulo, a battle over oil royalties and one enormous corruption trial. Murders were up in São Paulo, deforestation was down in the Amazon, and President Dilma Rousseff was declared the world’s third most powerful woman.
Here are five of the year’s biggest political stories:
Federal Police said Friday they had arrested six people in Brasília and São Paulo for alleged involvement in a corruption ring, in yet another case to veer uncomfortably close to former President Lula. In total, eighteen people – including Lula’s former assistant – are under investigation for influence peddling, bribery, conspiracy and forgery in connection with the scheme, which allegedly saw government approvals given to businesses in return for bribes.
As Brazil prepares for Sunday’s October 7th municipal elections, 640 candidates for mayor in 602 cities will appear on the ballot but might not be allowed to take office if they win. The 640 mayoral candidates represent some eleven percent of the total 15,550 mayoral hopefuls.
Regional election courts have barred more than 300 mayoral candidates in October’s municipal elections from running for office under the Lei do Ficha Limpa (Clean Record Law), which declares citizens convicted of a range of crimes ineligible for office. The crimes that prohibit holding public office include corruption, drug trafficking and fraud, within eight years of completing their sentences.
Following months of strikes by broad swathes of public sector workers, from university professors to customs officers, the majority of workers on Tuesday accepted the government’s offer of a 15.8 percent pay-rise over three years. Federal Police unions however rejected the offer and opted to continue the labor strike action.
There is one story dominating the Brazilian headlines: The mensalão, a huge corruption case that could taint the legacy of former President Lula and the reputation of his Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party—PT) to which his successor Dilma Rousseff belongs.
Seven years after the scandal surfaced, Brazil’s Supreme Court on Thursday, August 2nd began to hear the huge cash-for-votes corruption case that threatens to tarnish former President Lula’s legacy and the reputation of the ruling Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party, PT).
With rifts between staunch allies, and political rivals forging unexpected deals, this year’s municipal elections have already taken on national significance. There are over 5,566 municipalities in Brazil where voting will determine mayors, deputy mayors and city councilors – and the race has started.