Food is on the ballot in Brazil’s contentious presidential vote, but campaigners aren’t allowed to campaign in the streets, nor to hold street protests. They can only hold a small, select group of candidates on the campaign trail. The government is wary of the activists, but this is precisely what they are doing, a team of activists who were allowed onto the streets of Curitiba this week to protest the election of incumbent Dilma Rousseff. The aim is to get the vote registered and bring it to the forefront of Brazilian politics, showing how Brazilians perceive the next president, which could affect voter turnout.
“This is a demonstration about democracy, and about what democracy really is,” Marcello Noguera of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) told Quartz. “I’m not saying we’re going to vote but we have the right to vote. In Brazil we believe in democracy, and so do I.”
Brazilians are casting their ballots tomorrow in an election that is being held under emergency conditions and will be the first presidential election since the country’s recession in 2001. In the lead up to the vote, a wave of protests have been held across Brazil, protesting against corruption, the government’s austerity economic plan and the country’s new health and education policies.
One of the key issues discussed by the Brazilian activists on Sunday was Rousseff’s refusal to hold a national debate with her main rival on the economy, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. As is the case in many other countries, Brazil’s election has never been televised in the country, and this will make it difficult for the candidates to engage with voters directly.
This is where the campaigners come in. On the day of tomorrow’s vote, the MPB, the organisers of the protests, have asked participants to hand out flyers on the campaign trail which explain the economic and political issues they are protesting against.
“We have decided to use the demonstrations for the purpose they are designed to do: registering Brazilians to vote. This is important. People have been unable to vote because of the government’s measures and policies.”
The MPB has been campaigning in the streets since March, when it organised small demonstrations to get people