Parties seek to expand cadres in municipalities with an eye on presidential succession

Parties seek to expand cadres in municipalities with an eye on presidential succession

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Federal deputies should take advantage of the “super weekend” after Easter to consolidate political support for the municipal elections on October 6, on the eve of important deadlines set out in the electoral justice calendar. Although their positions are not up for grabs in 2024, some deputies plan to run for mayor, while others are organizing to elect their allies in their strongholds, thus reinforcing their bases for the 2026 elections.

The president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), made an agreement with party leaders in the House to extend the Holy Week holiday until April 8. Two days earlier, April 6, is the deadline stipulated by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) for changing candidates’ electoral domicile and for joining the party they wish to run for. The exact six months before voting day also mark the deadline for registering the statutes of parties and party federations that will participate in the elections.

There is also another important election date coming up: on April 5th the so-called “party window” ends, a period in which councilors can change parties without running the risk of losing their mandate. As this is a municipal election, this year’s party window only applies to councilors, and not to deputies. Mayors, in turn, can change parties at any time, as mandates are linked to the elected official and not the party. They also do not have to resign if they run for re-election. This is only required in the case of mayors applying for the position of councilor.

For analyst Juan Carlos Gonçalves, director of the Ranking of Politicians, it is natural for deputies to get closer to their bases at this time to maintain contact with those who will be their main electoral supporters in 2026, considering that mayors and councilors end up being the main electoral supporters in general elections (for president, governors, senators, federal and state deputies).

Betting on the Bolsonaro couple as electoral leaders, PL wants to elect 1,500 mayors

In this context, parties are outlining their strategies to win as many city halls and seats in City Councils as possible across the country.

Former president Jair Bolsonaro’s PL, for example, has ambitious goals. The party’s president, Valdemar Costa Neto, has said in meetings and interviews that the party hopes to emerge from the polls in October with a balance of at least 1,500 elected mayors.

“We are going to break records in the 2024 elections. We are the fastest growing party in Brazil, and with the strength of our parliamentarians and Bolsonaro, we will make more than 1,500 mayors in the next elections”, published Costa Neto on X (formerly Twitter).

To reach this objective, the party will have to appoint four times as many mayors as in 2020, when it managed to elect 349 candidates. The party is betting on the couple Jair and Michelle Bolsonaro as its main canvassers to carry out a good vote.

The former president, despite investigations by the Federal Police that attempt to link him to an alleged coup attempt, has an intense pre-election schedule, visiting several cities. Michelle, who is president of PL Mulher, has also been traveling the country, seeking to increase female representation in PL staff.

“Trust the PL. Join, apply, because we will be here, strengthening the national PL with the state and municipal ones…. We want to empower our candidates. We want to be together with them so that they can get elected”, Michelle Bolsonaro has said at PL Mulher events, to attract the female audience.

Lula should help PT make more mayors in 2024 than in 2020

While the PL is betting on the Bolsonaro couple to join the party’s ranks, the Workers’ Party uses a similar strategy, with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) himself as the main electoral campaign to win new city halls across Brazil.

Although the president of the PT, federal deputy Gleisi Hoffman (PR), states that the party did not set a goal for electing mayors, the objective is to at least surpass the 227 PT mayors elected in 2020.

The party should focus its electoral efforts on state capitals and cities with more than 200,000 voters, but has already signaled that it will give space to alliances with left-wing parties instead of pursuing its own candidacies at all costs – such as the support for the candidacy of federal deputy Guilherme Boulos (Psol-SP) for São Paulo city hall. The alliance with other parties also aims to succeed Lula in 2026.

Party migrations made PSD the acronym with the largest number of city halls

Looking outside the antagonistic axis, the strategy of the PSD, led by Gilberto Kassab, has stood out. The party bet on attracting the membership of mayors from other parties and currently controls the largest number of city halls in the country: 968, according to the TSE.

There are 308 more mayors than the 660 that the party elected in 2020, a growth of 47%, observed especially in the state of São Paulo, where the PSD took advantage of the “shrinkage” of the traditional PSDB.

Unlike councilors, mayors can change parties at any time, without having to wait for the party window.

Republicans want to elect 300 mayors and 3,000 councilors

While they are still negotiating the formation of a large party federation at the national level, União Brasil, Republicans and Progressives each have their own goals for the 2024 elections.

The president of the Republicans, federal deputy Marcos Pereira (SP), told People’s Gazette that the party wants to elect 300 mayors and 3,000 councilors in the country in 2024, a significant increase considering that in 2020 the party elected 213 mayors and 2,551 councilors.

União Brasil, in turn, did not set goals, but the party’s vice-president, Antônio Carlos Magalhães Neto, known as ACM Neto, said that the party wants to grow and, where it cannot have its own candidacies, it will discuss strategic support that can increase their participation and strengthen the party.

União Brasil is also already looking to 2026. One of the party’s main cadres, governor Ronaldo Caiado (Goiás) signals a possible candidacy for the presidency of the Republic in the next general elections.

But the party’s start to the year has been turbulent, with successive crises. Recently there was a change in the party’s presidency – federal deputy Luciano Bivar (PE) was removed by the Union Executive after an internal dispute with the new elected president, Antonio Rueda – and the arrest of federal deputy Chiquinho Brazão (RJ), suspected of being one of those behind the death of Rio councilor Marielle Franco. Brazão was expelled from the party last Sunday (24).

Regarding the PP’s strategies, senator Ciro Nogueira (PI), president of the party, did not want to establish numbers, but said he was working to ensure that the party ends the campaign with the largest number of city halls in the country.

In 2020, Progressistas emerged from the elections with a balance of 700 elected mayors, and today, after migrations between parties, it has 752 municipal managers.

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