Brazil's next president has a difficult job
Brazil’s next president has a difficult job
By Alfredo Saad Filho
Will Dilma Rousseff still be Brazil's president after the election? (Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação under a Creative Commons Licence)
Sunday 5 October is the election in Brazil. Voters will choose the president, state governors, federal deputies, senators and state legislators.
The most important vote is for the president. There are eleven candidates. Three of them will get lots of votes: President Dilma Rousseff (from an alliance led by the Workers’ Party), Marina Silva (Brazilian Socialist Party, PSB) and Aécio Neves (Brazilian Social Democratic Party, PSDB).
There have been many political problems, but now people say that Dilma Rousseff will probably be President again. If she wins, this will be the fourth government led by the Workers’ Party (after Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won in 2002 and 2006).
Before the election there were many demonstrations across Brazil last year; many people wanted the protests ‘against the World Cup’ to end the chances of Dilma, but they didn’t; and the politician Marina Silva suddenly became very popular, then unpopular again.
Marina is a popular leader from the Amazon. She has a simple life and she is a Seventh Day Adventist. She was important in the Workers’ Party as an environmentalist and she has a lot of connections to international NGOs. The middle classes in the cities liked her.
She was Minister of the Environment in Lula’s first government, but she did not do much. Marina left the government and the Workers’ Party and was the Green Party candidate against Dilma in 2010. She got 20 per cent of the votes in the first round, against the PSDB’s José Serra’s 32 per cent.
Then, Marina used social networks to set up a new political party, the ‘Sustainability Network’ (Rede de Sustentabilidade). But this party did not get the 500,000 signatures they needed to register a new party before the elections, Marina went to the PSB, and they made her vice-president.
Sadly, the party’s leader and presidential candidate, Eduardo Campos, died in an air crash in August. Marina became the party’s presidential candidate, even though she has no real attachment to the PSB.
In the next few days, the PSB party’s popularity went up from about 8 per cent to over 30 per cent. The opinion polls said that Marina could win against Dilma in the second round of the presidential elections. But then, reality came.
There were lots of problems for Marina: she did not get on well with the leaders of the PSB; she did not include important groups from the PSB in her campaign; she got neoliberal economists to run her programme; and she was not able to explain her own programme of government.
She has conservative religious values, and she is against abortion and gay rights. Also, she could not talk about the economy because her overtly neoliberal ideas are very unpopular.
The ‘real’ neoliberal candidate, Aécio Neves has also had many problems with personal stories and trying to make a difference between his plans and Marina’s.
In the polls (predictions of the votes), Aécio has always been below 20 per cent, and Marina’s popularity has fallen a lot in the last part of the campaign.
Dilma’s government has problems because the economy is getting slower. And finance, the media and the middle classes are not confident in her.
But, in the last ten years, Brazil has improved a lot the distribution of income and wealth; unemployment has gone down a lot (even in the global crisis); the welfare state for all has become stronger in the country, and wages and benefits have gone up a lot.
The Workers’ Party governments have done a lot for the workers and the poor: they could, and should, have done more, but this is the only real choice for the Left in these elections.
In the last ten years, Brazil has shown that there are other possible choices - not just neoliberalism. Brazil also supports and inspires other political experiences in Latin America and other countries.
If Dilma lost the elections, this would make the Brazilian Left disorganised, and it would help neoliberalism, and stop the slow progress towards social democracy in the country.
But there will be many serious economic, social and political problems for the person who wins these elections.
Brazil has found it very difficult to make investment rates higher. Now they are about 18 per cent of GDP (in successful East Asian economies, investment rates are usually double that).
Brazil’s balance of payments is not secure, the political system is blocked and its economic and social infrastructure are not strong. Urban areas need a lot of work; land reform has not developed in years; there is a lot of corruption, and there is a war between the media and the federal government.
There are many reasons for people not to be happy. The media makes sure everyone hears about them every single day. It will be expensive and politically difficult to do something about these problems. The next four years will not be easy.
NOW READ THE ORIGINAL:http://newint.org/blog/2014/10/03/brazil-elections/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).