General Elections, 1994

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The 1994 elections were significant because the presidential election coincided with the general elections for governor, senator, and federal and state deputy for the first time since 1950. It was expected that a strong presidential showing would have strong coattails (see Glossary) at the state level. However, many thought that election results proved otherwise. Coalition-building was generally inconsistent between the national and state levels, because local political animosities and affinities were so diverse from state to state that none of the presidential coalitions could cover all the possible combinations. Among the major parties, the PFL, PTB (Brazilian Labor Party), and Progressive Party decided not to field separate presidential candidates. The PMDB, PDT (Democratic Labor Party), PPR (Progressive Renewal Party), Workers' Party, and PSDB decided to run their own candidates. Four minor parties--the Liberal Party (Partido Liberal--PL), National Order Redefinition Party (Partido da Redefinição da Ordem Nacional--Prona), PRN (Party of National Reconstruction), and Social Christian Party (Partido Social Cristão--PSC)--also nominated candidates.

Despite opposition from a minority, the PMDB nominated former São Paulo governor Orestes Quêrcia as its presidential candidate. The PDT again nominated Leonel Brizola. Lula's Workers' Party articulated a broad coalition on the left, including the Brazilian Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Brasileiro--PSB), Popular Socialist Party (Partido Popular Socialista--PPS), PC do B (Communist Party of Brazil), and Green Party (Partido Verde--PV). However, Marxist wings of the Workers' Party, having gained control of the party's Executive Committee, imposed a difficult, radical platform on the campaign.

Cardoso had become minister of finance in May 1993 and had assembled the same PSDB economic team that had formulated the Cruzado Plan in 1986. This time, however, the team put together a stabilization plan that included the components missing in 1986. The hope was that the initiative would boost Cardoso's potential candidacy into the second round. In February 1994, Congress approved the Real Value Units (Unidades Reais de Valor--URVs; see real (R$) in Glossary) Stabilization Plan, which gave the minister of finance almost absolute power to impound or reallocate budgeted funds, reduce the fiscal deficit, and conduct a rescheduling of the foreign debt.

The impact of the Real Plan on the preference polls was even more dramatic than PSDB strategists had imagined. They had thought that, at best, if the plan were a success, Cardoso might pull even with Lula by the end of August, thus guaranteeing a second round in November. However, Cardoso surpassed Lula in the Datafolha firm's presidential preference poll results at the end of July by successfully branding the Workers' Party as against the Real Plan and for inflation. Cardoso went on to win the election outright on the first round with 54.3 percent of the valid votes cast (44.1 percent of the total vote, including blank and null ballots) (see table 25, Appendix). Lula placed second with 27.0 percent. Cardoso's PSDB-PFL-PTB coalition received additional support from the PMDB and PPR, which abandoned their candidates and climbed aboard the Cardoso bandwagon. In addition to electing the president and a majority of the governors, the Center coalition returned substantial majorities to Congress.

The social-liberal alliance, the Big Center, that elected Cardoso on the first round enjoyed only moderate presidential coattails at the state level (see table 26, Appendix). The PSDB-PFL-PTB alliance elected nine (33 percent) governors, twenty-four of fifty-four (44 percent) senators up for election, 182 of 513 (35 percent) federal deputies, and 324 of 1,045 (31 percent) state deputies. Cardoso placed first in every state except the Federal District (Brasília) and Rio Grande do Sul. Lula surpassed Cardoso in the Federal District and Rio Grande do Sul, where his coattails pulled the Workers' Party gubernatorial candidates into the second round.

The 1994 gubernatorial election was the fourth in a series of direct elections for governor since their reinstatement in 1982. Compared with 1990, the PSDB had the best performance of all parties in 1994. The PSDB was formed hastily in June 1988, and in 1990 elected only one governor (Ceará). In 1994 the PSDB won six governorships, including Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. These three states account for nearly 60 percent of Brazil's gross national product (GNP--see Glossary) and tax base. Certainly, presidential coattails and the Real Plan were important factors in these three second-round victories. Brizola's PDT lost the three states won in 1990, but in 1994 elected the governors of Paraná (Jaime Lerner) and Mato Grosso (Dante de Oliveira), both on the first round. The Workers' Party made it into the second round in three states and won in two: Brasília and Espírito Santo. The two victories gave the Workers' Party a chance to demonstrate how it would manage a state government. The party had already elected mayors in major cities (São Paulo, Porto Alegre, and Belo Horizonte) in 1988 and 1992.

Of the fifty-four Senate seats up for election in 1994, only nine incumbents were reelected. Six of the twenty-seven senators elected in 1990 were replaced by their respective alternates (five were elected to other offices and one died). Thus, in 1995 fifty-one of the eighty-one senators were new, although five of the latter had served in the Senate before 1990. The PMDB, PFL, and PSDB continued to have the largest upper-house delegations; and the PFL made substantial gains (see table 27, Appendix). The most significant change was the advance of the left. From only two senators in 1991, this group increased to seven (five from the Workers' Party). The PPS, the former PCB (Brazilian Communist Party), elected its first senator (Roberto Freire) since Luís Carlos Prestes was elected in 1945.

The Chamber of Deputies was enlarged in 1995 with the expansion of the São Paulo State delegation from sixty to seventy as mandated by the 1988 constitution. Turnover in the lower house in 1995 (275 new deputies out of 513, or 53.6 percent) was slightly lower than that in 1991. As in 1991, the Chamber of Deputies in 1995 continued to have two larger parties (PMDB and PFL) and six middle-sized parties. By electing deputies in all five regions of Brazil, these eight parties, as well as the PC do B, have a more national representation.

Voter turnout was lower in 1994 (82.2 percent) than in 1989 (88.1 percent), and blank and null votes were more frequent in 1994 than in 1989. These differences may have resulted in part from the fact that the 1994 election was more complicated, with two ballots and six offices.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress