25 years after the end of its military dictatorship, on Oct 3rd 2010 Brazil carried out peaceful and legitimate democratic elections nationwide. Over 135 million Brazilians voted to elect the country’s president, the governors of Brasilia and 27 states, 54 senators, all 513 members of the House of Representatives and the assembly delegates of all states.
Although elections were carried out without controversy, the final outcome remains unknown. None of the presidential candidates gathered enough votes (50% plus one vote) to be named president elect; therefore, the two top contenders will face each other again in a run-off election to be held on Oct. 31st. More important than the result per se, the elections will be testament of the nation’s progress towards consolidating its democratic principles and its stance as a leading democracy in Latin America.
It’s important to remember that this was only the 6th major election in Brazil since it overcame its worst period of human rights transgressions in recent history. The Brazilian military regime, which was in power from 1964 to 1985, was responsible for systemic human rights violations, including killings, forced disappearances, torture and the curtailment of freedom of expression. Approximately 50,000 persons were detained for speaking against the regime and roughly 10,000 went into exile. It is only after the promulgation of its new Constitution in1988 that Brazilians had their full civil and political rights restored. For such a young democracy, these elections should be seen as a victory for everyone, regardless of political party or affiliation. It empowers Brazilians to choose their own leaders and indeed, their own future.
In the weeks and months to come, we will follow the work of those empowered to lead the country into the future. We will monitor them carefully, focusing on the social and economic rights of the most vulnerable sectors in society. In the meantime, let’s join the nation in celebrating its democracy!