Parliamentary Chamber: Senado Federal


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  Senado Federal

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  4 October 1998

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for one-third (27) of the 81 seats in the Senate on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.

Background and outcome of elections:

  The 1998 congressional elections were combined with polling for President of the Republic, state legislators (1405) and governors (27 - one for each state and the Federal District). As a result of a 1997 electoral law amendment, incumbent President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazilian Social Democratic Party - PSDB) was the first to be able to run for a second four-year term. He was opposed by a host of challengers, led by Mr. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Workers’Party - PT).

The election campaign took place against a backdrop of financial crisis that threatened the President’s popular inflation-slashing Real Plan (real being the name of the Brazilian currency). Since assuming power in 1994, Mr. Cardoso’s policies had sharply reduced hyperinflation, introduced a stable real and consequently ushered in steady and impressive growth in the country, whose economy accounted for 45% of Latin America’s gross domestic product. He pledged to do his utmost to guarantee the survival of the Plan, which he had devised as Minister of the Economy.

On polling day, more than half of the electorate used electronic voting machines for the first time. While this made for rapid tallies, final results could only be issued once the traditional ballot papers still used in mostly rural areas had been counted. The results ultimately gave Mr. Cardoso slightly more than 50% of the valid popular vote - enough to avoid a second round against the runner-up, Mr. Lula of the left-wing PT, who had already come in second four years earlier. Analysts interpreted this outcome as demonstrating strong support by the citizenry for economic reform, particularly budget cuts and tax adjustments, in order to comply with austerity measures dictated by international lending agencies and thus avoid a damaging devaluation of the real.

In the legislative races for all Chamber of Deputies seats and one-third of the Senate, contested by more than 20 parties, the governing, five-party coalition (PSDB, PFL, PMDB, PPB, PTB) retained its majorities while the main opposition alliance (PT, PDT, PSB) raised its total in the Chamber.

On 23 December, President Cardoso named a new Cabinet for this second term beginning 1 January 1999.

Round no 1 (4 October 1998): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 106,101,067

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total Seats 1998
Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) 26 10
Liberal Front Party (PFL) 20 5
Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) 16 4
Workers’ Party (PT) 7 6
Democratic Labour Party (PDT) 4 0
Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) 3 1
Brazilian Progressive Party (PPB) 3 1
Brazilian Labour Party (PTB) 1 0
Popular Socialist Party (PPS) 1 0

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 75
Women: 6

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Copyright 1998 Inter-Parliamentary Union