Shootings sour municipal elections in Brazil - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Shootings sour municipal elections in Brazil

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Posted: Sunday, October 5, 2008 10:26 pm | Updated: 9:16 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

BRASILIA, Brazil - Isolated shootings in Brazil soured Sunday's municipal elections that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's allies hope will give them a leg up on 2010's presidential vote.

Boosted by Silva's popularity amid an extended economic boom that has raised salaries and lifted millions out of poverty, the ruling Workers Party is seeking to increase its control of local governments, especially in the 26 state capitals.

Analysts say such gains will help the party in its bid to hang on to the presidency after Silva is termed out in 2010.

The Workers Party won mayoral races in six capitals and had candidates in runoffs in three more. The allied Brazilian Democratic Movement Party was in runoffs in four other capitals.

With 94 percent of the vote counted in Sao Paulo, Latin America's largest city, current Mayor Gilberto Kassab and former Tourism Minister Marta Suplicy of Silva's Workers Party were poised to advance to a second round Oct. 26.

Suplicy had led opinion polls leading up to the election, but apparently slipped despite Silva's backing and was in a tight race with 32 percent of the vote to Kassab's 33. Former Sao Paulo state Gov. Geraldo Alckmin, who lost the 2006 presidential election to Silva, was third with 22 percent.

Rio de Janeiro residents sent two politicians from parties allied with Silva to a runoff. However Eduardo Paes of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party and Fernando Gabeira of the Green Party have personally been at odds with the president.

The important southeastern city of Belo Horizonte will see a second round to choose between two Silva backers.

Violence ranked high among the concerns of Brazilians ahead of Sunday's vote.

"We expect whoever is elected can do something to eradicate violence from the streets," 56-year-old housewife Ana Maria Paulino said before voting in Sao Paulo. "Everything would be better if we had less violence."

On election day, Silva's press office said a man who tried to invade the presidential residence in Brasilia was shot in the leg with nonlethal ammunition after ignoring warnings from security. The man was reportedly in a hospital and expected to recover.

Silva and his wife, Marisa Leticia, were not in the residence at the time, and it was not clear whether the incident was related to the vote.

Meanwhile assailants opened fire on a car carrying a small-town mayoral candidate in the northeastern state of Maranhao, killing his brother and another man, Brazilian media reported.

Globo Online reported that in Rio de Janeiro, two men were reportedly shot with non-lethal ammunition by soldiers, 5,000 of whom were deployed to keep order and safeguard the vote after threats from powerful militias and drug gangs.

In the interior of Sao Paulo state, police used tear gas to break up a brawl between rival parties. And in the northern state of Para, angry voters damaged ballot machines to protest that several candidates were not listed because of judicial disputes.

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