Brazilians reelected Dilma Rousseff as president on Sunday in the most competitive vote since the end of the country's military dictatorship and the beginning of direct elections in 1989.
The incumbent from the Workers’ Party finished with 51 percent of the valid votes (excluding blanks and nulls, which added up to 21 percent of the total), against 48 percent for challenger Aécio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party.
With Rousseff's victory, the Workers’ Party will see their time in power extend to at least 2018, a rule that began after former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva gave the party its first presidential victory in 2002. No other political party in Brazil’s recent history has remained that long in the country’s highest office (16 years come 2018).
In her first speech after the results, she remarked on the importance of uniting the country after what was considered an extremely polarized campaign, with accusations exchanged between both candidates as well as their supporters. She said:
Não acredito, sinceramente, que essas eleições tenham dividido o país ao meio. Entendo, sim, que elas mobilizaram ideias e emoções às vezes contraditórias, mas unidas por sentimentos comuns: a busca por um futuro melhor para o país. […] Algumas vezes na história, os resultados apertados produziram mudanças mais fortes e rápidas do que as vitórias amplas. É essa a minha esperança. Ou melhor, a minha certeza do que vai ocorrer a partir de agora no Brasil.
I honestly do not believe that those elections have divided the country in half. From what I understand they have mobilized sometimes contradictory ideas and emotions, but united by common goals: the pursuit of a better future to our country. […] Sometimes in history close call results have produced faster and stronger changes than easy victories. This is my hope. Rather, this is what I am certain will happen from now on in Brazil.
In her speech, she promised to give full priority to political reform, a long-awaited call from society that, among other things, would forbid political parties from receiving donations from companies for election campaigns. Rousseff proposed the reform after the June 2013 protests in a response to the demands of those in the streets, but has encountered a lot of resistance in partisan and intellectual circles. To do wide-reaching reforms, a Constitutional Assembly must be called, but according to some specialists an assembly has the legal power to define its own agenda, which could leave room for non-desirable changes in the law.
She also spoke about fighting corruption and controlling the growing inflation – for which her government has been heavily criticized in the last two years. Days before the election she was accused of knowing of corruption in Petrobrás that supposedly benefited allied politicians. The scandal was published on the cover of Brazil's most circulated magazine, right-wing Revista Veja. Rousseff denies the accusations and says she will press charges against the publication.
Defeated candidate Aécio Neves also gave an official speech in which he thanked his supporters. He stated the importance of “uniting the country around a honorable project that dignifies all Brazilians”.
On social media, some of his voters didn't take the defeat as lightly. Many have posted black images as their profile photos on Facebook in a sign of “grief” and some went as far as to set up a petition on Avaaz to impeach President Rouseff. They want to gather 5 million signatures – so far, they have passed the 1-million mark.
— Chris Thornsberry (@LifeOfThor) October 27, 2014
“Luto” in Portuguese means mourning.
Demonstrations against people from northeastern regions, where Rousseff did well in the ballots, happened as usual, with some proposing splitting the country in half — one image proposes calling the north “South Cuba”.
arrumando as malas e indo pra cuba do sul pic.twitter.com/ZdonB8n0kT
— fernanda emboaba (@princessbale) October 27, 2014
Packing my bags to go to South Cuba.
But many good-natured initiatives also followed the results, like a fake Facebook event (creating fake events for laughs is a recent trend in the Brazilian Internet) called “Barbecue to make amends with friends lost during the elections”, or the Tumblr “Coxinhas <3 Petralhas”, with positive messages one “team” might send to the other now that the elections are over. “Coxinha” is a derogatory slang for rich young people, a word often used by Neves’ opponents to refer to his supporters; whereas “Petralha”, also derogatory, refers to supporters of the Workers’ Party, in a reference to Irmãos Metralha — the Brazilian translation of Disney’s “The Beagle Boys.”