Brazilian general election, 2006

Brazilian presidential election, 2006
1 October 2006
29 October 2006

Nominee Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Geraldo Alckmin
Home state Pernambuco /
São Paulo
São Paulo
Running mate José Alencar José Jorge
States carried 19 + DF 7
Popular vote 58,295,042 37,543,178
Percentage 60.83% 39.17%

Presidential election results map after the second round of voting: Red denotes states won by Lula, and Blue denotes those won by Alckmin.

President before election

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Elected President

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Foreign relations

General elections were held in Brazil on 1 October 2006 to elect all seats in the Chamber of Deputies, one-third of the Federal Senate, and members of the Legislative Assemblies of the 26 states and the Federal District. As no candidate for president received over 50% of the vote, a second round run-off was held on 29 October between incumbent Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his challenger, Geraldo Alckmin. A second round was also required in 10 states where no candidate for governor received a majority. Lula won the second round with over 60% of the valid votes and secured a new four-year term.[1]

With its image tainted by the mensalão scandal, the Workers' Party saw a decrease of 3.4% in its margin, compared to the previous general election and lost many states in the Southern Region of Brazil that they won last time. For the first time, its share declined when compared to a previous election. The main opposition parties, Brazilian Social Democratic Party and Liberal Front Party, also saw a decrease in its voting. All other major parties, with the exception of centre-right Progressive Party, increased its voting.


The 2006 election was held amid a clear reorganization of the political forces of the country. After three failed attempts, Workers' Party candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was eventually elected President. The financial market feared his government would be a threat to the new-found economic stability. Lula, once considered a member of the radical left wing, implemented unorthodox neoliberal policies on the economic field, resembling the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration, but not succumbing, however, to privatization pressures. On the social field, Lula gained notice for Fome Zero, a successful measure to eradicate extreme poverty.

The Workers' Party was, thus, deemed less socialist and more social democratic. As the party moved deeper into the centre-left spectrum, allying with centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, a series of complaints were made by members of its far left factions, which accused it of betraying its ideals and founding charter. Despite the discredit of the Workers' Party among traditional leftists, they strongly supported Lula as the real left wing alternative. The Brazilian Communist Party, for instance, supported Lula on the second round, unlike its presidential candidate Heloísa Helena, informing its members of the alleged regression Geraldo Alckmin would represent if elected.

For this election, the opposition emphasized the wear off of Lula because of the Mensalão scandal, that involved the bribing of parliament members by the ruling coalition, which had been widely reported on the mass media since mid-2005. This wear off, however, appealed only to middle-class voters.

Two former members of the Workers' Party, Cristovam Buarque and Heloísa Helena, launched their candidacies as "alternative left" candidates for the Democratic Labour Party and the Socialism and Liberty Party, respectively. They once discussed the possibility of forming a coalition themselves. Both parties were criticised by the left on the second round for not supporting Lula.

The campaign for void voting reached its peak on the 2006 election, with MTV Brasil (unlike its American branch, which advocates voting initiatives like Rock the Vote among younger audiences) becoming the first TV network to officially support it.

Electoral system

The 2006 elections were the last marked by the now extinct "verticalization rule", that forced parties to ally on the state level with the same parties for which they were allied nationwide. This rule was introduced at the 2002 general elections by the Supreme Electoral Court.

Presidential candidates

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva celebrating his electoral victory after the 2006 elections.

The presidential candidates for the 2006 general elections were:


Starting from the end of 2005, the most discussed issues about the 2006 national elections involved the country's four biggest parties: PFL, PMDB, PSDB and PT.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) ran for reelection , but he did not confirm his candidacy until June 2006. This was regarded as a cautious move in case something major happened on the political spectrum that could harm his candidacy, especially regarding the 2005 political scandal, still under investigation.

At the end of 2005, several names were regarded in the PSDB as potential candidates for the presidential elections, such as former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, senator Tasso Jereissati, Minas Gerais governor Aécio Neves, São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin and São Paulo mayor José Serra. By the beginning of 2006, Alckmin and Serra were considered the only two actual potential candidates, and the other three would choose between them (or determine a way by which the choice would be made). Geraldo Alckmin was the chosen candidate, whereas Serra is running for governor of São Paulo.

The PFL was planning the candidacy of Rio de Janeiro mayor César Maia. Another possibility was to appoint the vice-president nominee for PSDB presidential candidate. Maia initially said he would agree with the latter only if the presidential candidate was José Serra, but later accepted the possibility of the party appointing a name to run with Geraldo Alckmin, which was eventually senator José Jorge.

In the PMDB there was division. Some, including party president Michel Temer, wanted the party to have a candidate of its own for the presidential race, and scheduled primaries within the party, with two prospective candidates: former Rio de Janeiro governor Anthony Garotinho and Rio Grande do Sul governor Germano Rigotto. Another section of the party, though, wished to ally with president Lula and appoint the vice-president nominee to run with him. This "governist part" of the party was headed by senators Renan Calheiros and José Sarney. There was also a third possibility of making an alliance with PSDB. Ironically, the PMDB decided not to take any part whatsoever in the presidential elections and became free to make any coalition in the states.

Aside from these four parties, the smaller ones had no clear course of action. The PSOL was the first to appoint a candidate, senator Heloisa Helena.

The three main candidates were later joined by Cristóvam Buarque (PDT), Luciano Bivar (PSL), José Maria Eymael (PSDC) and Rui Costa Pimenta (PCO). Ana Maria Rangel (PRP), who also registered her candidacy, was ruled out after internal disagreements with her own party, but was able to revert the situation and regain her right to participate in the presidential race.

The first debate took part on 14 August, featuring Heloisa Helena, Cristóvam Buarque, Luciano Bivar and José Maria Eymael. Lula refused to participate, whereas Rui Costa Pimenta was not invited.

On 15 August, the official electoral programmes started being aired on television and radio. Every weekday, all candidates have a few prime-time minutes to put forward their ideas and plans. The time allocated to each one is loosely based on the number of Congress representatives each coalition has.

Also on 15 August, the Supreme Electoral Court decided to revoke the registration of the PCO candidate, Rui Costa Pimenta. The court ruling was based on the fact that the party had not presented its accounts for the 2002 general elections within the deadline specified by law. Pimenta, however, managed to retain his candidacy: the matter is pending decision.

Polls varied little in the two months prior to the election, showing Lula with over 50% of the valid votes, followed by Alckmin, Heloisa Helena, and Buarque. Nevertheless, the difference between Lula's figures and the sum of his opponents' shortened on the eve of the election.

On 28 September, the PT candidate refused to appear at a debate hosted by Globo TV. Explaining his decision in a letter addressed to the TV station, Lula claimed that all his opponents would take the opportunity to team up and attack him. Three days before the election, the last debate was expected to have a large audience.

On 1 October the first round ended with no winner. Lula was the most voted, but his votes were around 1% less of the sum the other candidates', forcing him to a run-off with Alckmin, who placed second.


Despite being absent of the first-round debates, Lula faced Alckmin in four debates in the second round, each one of them aired by one of the four most important television channels in Brazil - Band, SBT, Record and two days before the election, on Globo TV.

Since the first debate, Alckmin accused Lula of being lenient with the members of his government who had to resign after being charged in many scandals since 2005. Also he tried to underestimate the achievements the president claimed to obtain during his term, like reducing of poverty and inflation rates, claiming his results were consequence of the favorable international economic scenario and the achievements of his antecessor Fernando Henrique Cardoso, from Alckmin's party.

Lula however claimed that despite his government is under investigation, both Cardoso and Alckmin halted many investigations on their administrations with dubious methods. According to analysts, Lula dealt damage to Alckmin most when he accused him of threatening the Bolsa Família program, which attends millions of low-income Brazilian families, and questioning the privatizations done during the Cardoso government claiming that most of them were unnecessary and the state companies in question were sold for sums much lower than their true market value, like the Vale do Rio Doce, sold by R$3.3 billion at the time, but now profits this same amount in a quarter of year. Also he claimed that there would be no guarantee that other companies could be sold like state oil giant Petrobras, the country's largest and most profitable company, in case of Alckmin's victory.

If the formula worked or not, the fact is Lula's poll numbers skyrocketed and in the end, he was elected for a second term as president of Brazil by a 20 million vote margin, while Alckmin got less votes than in the first round.



 Summary of the 1 October and 29 October 2006 Brazil presidential election results
Candidates Votes % 1st round Votes % 2nd round
  Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT, PC do B, PRB, PMDB, PL, PSB, PP, PMN) 46,662,365 48.61 58,295,042 60.83
  Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB, PFL, PPS) 39,968,369 41.64 37,543,178 39.17
  Heloísa Helena (P-SOL, PSTU, PCB) 6,575,393 6.85 - -
  Cristovam Buarque (PDT) 2,538,844 2.64 - -
  Ana Maria Rangel (PRP) 126,404 0.13 - -
  José Maria Eymael (PSDC) 63,294 0.07 - -
  Luciano Bivar (PSL) 62,064 0.06 - -
Total (turnout 83.2 and ) 95,996,733 100.00 95,838,220 100.00
Notes: party of the candidate, supporting parties, unofficial supporting parties
Source: Justiça Eleitoral

National Congress

 Summary of the 1 October 2006 National Congress of Brazil election results
Parties Chamber of Deputies Federal Senate
Votes % Seats Votes % Total seats elected in 2006
  Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores) 13,989,859 15.0 83 16,222,159 19.2 101 2
  Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro) 13,580,517 14.6 89 10,148,024 12.0 162 4
  Brazilian Social Democratic Party (Partido da Social-Democracia Brasileira) 12,691,043 13.6 65 10,547,778 12.5 142 5
  Democrats (Democratas) 10,182,308 10.9 65 21,653,812 25.7 18 6
  Progressive Party (Partido Progressista) 6,662,309 7.1 42 4,228,431 5.0 1 1
  Brazilian Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Brasileiro) 5,732,464 6.2 27 2,143,355 2.5 3 1
  Democratic Labour Party (Partido Democrático Trabalhista) 4,854,017 5.2 24 5,023,041 6.0 5 1
  Brazilian Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro) 4,397,743 4.7 22 2,676,469 3.2 4 3
  Liberal Party (Partido Liberal) 4,074,618 4.4 23 696,501 0.8 3 1
  Socialist People's Party (Partido Popular Socialista) 3,630,462 3.9 21 1,232,571 1.5 1 1
  Green Party (Partido Verde) 3,368,561 3.6 13 1,425,765 1.7 0 0
  Communist Party of Brazil (Partido Comunista do Brasil) 1,982,323 2.1 13 6,364,019 7.5 2 1
  Social Christian Party (Partido Social Cristão) 1,747,863 1.9 9 131,548 0.2 0 0
  Socialism and Liberty Party (Partido Socialismo e Liberdade) 1,149,619 1.2 3 351,527 0.4 11 0
  Party of the Reconstruction of the National Order (Partido de Reedificação da Ordem Nacional) 907,494 1.0 2 69,640 0.1 0 0
  Party of National Mobilization (Partido da Mobilização Nacional) 875,686 0.9 3 12,925 0.0 0 0
  Christian Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Cristão) 806,662 0.9 4 39,690 0.0 0 0
  Humanist Party of Solidarity (Partido Humanista da Solidariedade) 435,328 0.5 2 24,940 0.0 0 0
  Christian Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrata Cristão) 354,217 0.4 0 53,025 0.1 0 0
  Labour Party of Brazil (Partido Trabalhista do Brasil) 311,833 0.3 1 69,923 0.1 0 0
  Party of the Nation's Retirees (Partido dos Aposentados da Nação) 264,682 0.3 1 2,969 0.0 0 0
  Brazilian Republican Party (Partido Republicano Brasileiro) 244,059 0.3 1 264,155 0.3 2 0
  Republican Progressive Party (Partido Republicano Progressista) 233,497 0.3 0 12,954 0.0 0 0
  Social Liberal Party (Partido Social Liberal) 190,793 0.2 0 46,542 0.0 0 0
  Brazilian Labour Renewal Party (Partido Renovador Trabalhista Brasileiro) 171,908 0.2 0 644,111 0.8 1 1
  National Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Nacional) 149,809 0.2 0 11,063 0.0 0 0
  United Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado) 101,307 0.1 0 196,636 0.2 0 0
  Brazilian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Brasileiro) 64,766 0.1 0 62,756 0.1 0 0
  Workers Cause Party (Partido da Causa Operária) 29,083 0.0 0 27,476 0.0 0 0
Total (turnout 83.3%) 93,184,830 100 513 84,383,805 100 81 27
Source: Election Resources on the Internet: Federal Elections in Brazil, Official Federal Senate website for continuing senators.

Substitutes from another party admitions:

1Senator Ana Júlia de Vasconcelos Carepa, of the Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores), resigned following her election as Governor of Pará State in 2006, in the middle of her Senate term. José Nery de Azevedo, of the Socialism and Liberty Party (Partido Socialismo e Liberdade) took her seat in the Senate.

2Senator Leonel Arcângelo Pavan of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (Partido da Social-Democracia Brasileira), resigned following his election as Vice Governor of Santa Catarina State in 2006, in the middle of his Senate term. Neuto Fausto de Couto, of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro) took his seat in the Senate.


The Governors elected in 2006 were the following:


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