2020 Municipal Elections: the day after of “different from everything else”

The well-known Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “Democracy, for example, arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects”. Over the last decade, the democratic western world has experienced exhaustion of traditional party representativeness and rise of the “non-political” (“outsiders”) sustained by the narrative that “we are different from everything else.” There are several examples: the Five Star Movement in Italy, Podemos and Ciudadanos in Spain, AfD in Germany, En Marché in France, Brexit Party in the UK, US President Donald Trump himself and recently the election of a comedian in Ukraine. for president in Ukraine. In Brazil, the unexpected victory of Jair Bolsonaro added our country to the map of the “disruption” of the traditional party system. However, we are already entering the hangover of this disruptive narrative. What does this mean? And what can we expect for the 2020 municipal elections? 

The inherent barriers of governing are catapulting several “new parties/movements” into the uncomfortable position of being part of the “system”. By winning votes and consequently administrative responsibilities, it is much harder to preach that “everything is wrong” and we are different. The day after is more complex and there is no lack of electoral data and mediocre popularity indices to support such a trend.

In Spain, Podemos faces much higher electoral resistance. The French President Emmanuel Macron slips in popularity indices and still suffered a strong electoral defeat in the European elections. In the United States, although the favorite to remain in the White House, Donald Trump has one of the worst ratings in presidential history.

Greece, which held national elections in early July, is an important case of the “day after”. The Syriza party, which had beaten the establishment parties at the peak of the Greek economic crisis, lost and handed over power to a representative of the Greek center-right: Kyriakos Mitsokis (from the New Democracy). The victory was based on the classic center-right positioning: creating a more favorable business environment and an agenda of privatizations and tax cuts. However, the most interesting thing was to realize from Greek opinion polls that Syriza (“different from everything else” left in its conception), in the electorate’s imagination, became a representative of the traditional center-left. Many Greek experts allegate that the country has returned to the bipartisan system but with Alex Tsipras’ party (defeated prime minister) occupying the center. In practice, what does this mean? After choosing “different from everything else” the electorate wants politicians to solve problems efficiently.

In the quantitative and qualitative surveys of 2019 from IDEIA Big Data, and already targeting the 2020 elections, we have been asking what does the voter expect from future mayors. The answers goes beyond attributes such as “honesty”, “no scandals” or “out of Operation Car Wash”. All of those very present in 2018. In 2020, claiming to be “different from everything else” won’t be enough. Candidates will, in addition to demonstrating honesty, also have to prove their capacity to manage and solve cities’ daily life issues. Words like “experience” and “good manager” comes up more frequently in surveys.

If Aristotle were alive, he would say: Nothing makes politicians so equal in all respects than governing.

Mauricio Moura: Economist, PhD in Economics and Public Sector Policy. Mauricio is a visiting professor at George Washington University and has recently received a certificate from the Harvard University Owner/President Management Program. Founder and CEO of IDEIA Big Data.

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