Marcelo Crivella on Sunday won the mayor's race in Rio de Janeiro, beating leftist Marcelo Freixo by a wide margin. Crivella, with the Brazilian Republican party, garnered 59.35% of the votes to 40.65% for Freixo, who is with the Socialism and Freedom Party.
The 59-year-old Crivella is an engineer, writer, gospel singer and the nephew of Edir Macedo, the founder of the powerful and rich Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and its Record television network, second in Brazilian rating.
“How is it possible that in Rio de Janeiro, a city of joy and openness about sexuality, there will be a mayor who is very conservative, discriminates and opposes Afro-Brazilian religions? The [centrist] alliance that governed the city has broken,” Mauricio Santoro, a political analyst at Rio’s State University, said.
Crivella is a bishop at the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, founded by his billionaire uncle. He made controversial statements in a book he wrote in 1999 where he called Roman Catholics demonic and said Hindus drank their children's blood. He also claimed that homosexuality is evil and that African religions worship evil spirits.
The bishop, now elected-mayor, said he would devote himself “above all to health, education, transport and public safety.”
Meanwhile, the Workers Party of former president Lula da Silva and removed president Dilma Rousseff was soundly defeated in the municipal election run-off round, losing the mayor-ships in Santo Andre, one of its political bastions, and Recife, the only state capital where it was competing in a second mayoral round.
The populist PT suffered a sound drubbing in the Oct. 2 first electoral round, its worst defeat in the past 20 years. With the loss in Santo Andre, the PT will have to give up its bastion in the Sao Paulo metro area, once considered a red belt due to the weight the party had achieved in the industrial zone.
The PT also lost the reins of power in Sao Bernardo do Campo, the city in which it was founded and where Lula lives, although he did not go to the polls on Sunday because of disagreements with the candidates, who belong to parties that supported his protege Rousseff's ouster.
Rousseff did not cast a ballot either on Sunday in Porto Alegre after the PT candidate there was knocked out of the run-off race in early October.
Of the four state capitals that the PT won in 2012, it maintained its control only in Rio Branco, in the small Amazon state of Acre, bordering on Bolivia and Peru.
Voters headed to the polls Sunday to cast ballots in run-off elections for mayors and council members in 57 municipalities. Nearly 33 million people were eligible to cast ballots in cities with populations of more than 200,000 where no candidate won over 50% of the vote in the first round of voting on Oct. 2.
Soldiers were deployed in 12 municipalities, several of which in the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, where acts of violence occurred during the campaign.
The municipal elections were being viewed as a barometer of the political climate in Brazil, where Rousseff was ousted by Congress on Aug. 31 and replaced by Michel Temer, a member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB.
Voters punished the PT in the first-round election, throwing their support to Brazilian Social Democratic Party, or PSDB, and governing PMDB candidates.
The PT's biggest loss on Oct. 2 came in Sao Paulo, Brazil's most populous city, where the PSDB's Joao Doria, a maverick businessman who does not consider himself a politician, won with no need of a runoff.