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The Russomanno Enigma, Resolved?

How and why is São Paulo mayoral candidate Celso Russomanno continuing to lead the polls despite scarce access to free political programming and apparently without a strong partisan machine to back him?

Mauro Malin of the Observatório da Imprensa reports: behind the flag of convenience PRB party is a deep pockets, publicity-shy religious group with a national TV network that rivals Globo and probably serves its masters politically in much the same way.


Political scientist Claudio Gonçalves Couto has published, in today’s Estado de S. Paulo, an article titled “Russomanno the Catholic” which unravels the candidate’s statements on the religious affiliations of supporters of the PRB, the Brazilian Republican Party — 80% of whose members he says are Catholic and 6% members of IURD, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.

These numbers purport to show that the PRB is not a political arm of IURD’s leader, Bishop Macedo.

Couto, on the other hand, found that at least 10 of the 18 members of the PRB’s national executive council have backgrounds in IURD or the Record TV network, or in some cases both.  Couto says that 85% of the PRB’s leadership in São Paulo are employees and executives of IURD, which he classifies as one of three business enterprises belonging to Macedo.  The other two are the Record network and the PRB.

Couto writes:

«Celso Russomanno is himself a Record employee, and as such has demonstrated his loyalty to the bishop, who controls the network.

And so, bearing in mind the similar bond between church and party, what kind of behavior can we expect if and when members of the party are elected?»

The answer, obviously, is that he will conduct himself in accordance with the political ambitions of Macedo, his followers and his associates.

Complicating the equation is the fact that the PRB’s honorary president — and former federal vice-president under Lula — the late José Alencar Gomes da Silva, originated in the Partido Liberal (PL), which was later rebaptized the Party of the Republic and served as an incubator for such figures as Valdemar Costa Neto others.

The PRB and the PR are part of the allied base of support. On the federal level, Celso Russomanno supports the government of  Dilma Rousseff, as he did the government of Lula, when he was still a member of the Progressive Party — the party of Paulo Maluf, who supports Fernado Haddad of the PT, Russomanno’s rival.

Record uses its heavy artillery to defend the national government of the PT.

It does do that, and is not very timid about it.

One of Record’s senior anchors, Paulo Henrique Amorim doubles as a self-styled Huffingtonesque political blogger and cheap Hogarthian lampoon artist. Imagine Dan Rather devoting himself part-time to the hyperpartisan blogging at Red State or Blue State or what have you … Record has become something of a present-day Última Hora — Samuel Wainer’s por-Vargas daily, which flourished in the 1950s.

Record and Globo have been engaged in a bloody contemporary Wars of Religion for years now. IURD is publicity-shy and Record’s content carries little if any slant of a religious nature.

During our recent weekday get-away to Boiçucanga, the house we were renting was across from a local IURD congregation and we were leafleted by volunteers who wished us God speed.