Tag Archives: brazilian socialist party

Brazil election results: What to expect from Dilma’s second term


It was the closest presidential race since the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1985.brazil

Ultimately, the benefits of incumbency and the track record of poverty reduction were enough to push Dilma Rousseff to reelection against an alliance between her center-right opponent, Aécio Neves, and former candidate Marina Silva, who finished third in the October 5 first-round vote.

Rousseff narrowly defeated Neves by a margin of 51.52% to 48.38% in Sunday’s vote, giving the center-left Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Workers Party) a fourth consecutive term in power.

Neves, the candidate of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB, Brazilian Social Democracy Party), came from behind to win a spot in the runoff after Silva’s candidacy imploded earlier this year. Silva, a former environmental minister who assumed the presidential nomination of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party), after its initial candidate, former Pernambuco governor Eduardo Campos, died in an airplane crash in mid-August.

Neves, who served as a highly regarded governor of Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second-most populous state, from 2002 to 2010, is a member of the Brazilian Senado (Senate), and he challenged Rousseff aggressively for several high-profile corruption cases, most recently revelations of kickbacks to PT politicians and their allies from Petrobras, the state-owned oil company.

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RELATED: Petrobras scandal highlights 12 years of Brazilian corruption

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The electorate predictably split between the PT’s supporters in the relatively poorer northeast and the PSDB’s more conservative base in the relatively wealthier southeast. Rousseff narrowly won the crucial battlegrounds of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, though the PT’s support dropped sharply from its levels in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 elections.

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Nevertheless, Rousseff’s PT-led coalition will enjoy a large congressional majority. Voters chose all 513 members of the lower house of the Brazilian congress, the Câmara dos Deputados (Chamber of Deputies) in the October 5 round.

That’s notwithstanding moderate losses for the PT and its largest partner, the ideologically vapid Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, PMDB), largely at the hands of the Partido Social Democrático (PSD, Social Democratic Party), a party formed in 2011 by former São Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab and a handful of PSDB and other centrist dissenters, who are also part of Rousseff’s coalition.

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So what does Rousseff’s reelection mean for Brazil and for the wider Latin American region? Continue reading Brazil election results: What to expect from Dilma’s second term

Five things Neves must do to win the Brazilian presidency


Fresh off a surprising victory in the first round of Brazil’s presidential election, Aécio Neves suddenly seems like a man with a real chance at leading the first center-right administration in 12 years. brazil

As Brazilian voters focus on the campaign for the October 26 runoff, the second post-election Datafolha poll gives Neves, the former governor of Minas Gerais and the candidate of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB, Brazilian Social Democracy Party), a slight lead of 45% to 43%.

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RELATED: Four things Dilma must do to win the Brazilian presidency

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It’s not the first time, however, that a poll has showed a challenger leading incumbent Dilma Rousseff, who is hoping to win a fourth consecutive term for her governing, center-left Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Workers Party). For much of the month and a half preceding the October 5 vote, Rousseff trailed Marina Silva, who unexpectedly finished in third place after vaunting to the top of polls, when she suddenly replaced Eduardo Campos, who died in an August 13 airplane crash. As the presidential candidate of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party), Silva hoped to thread a third way between the traditional left and right.

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RELATED: Five reasons why one-time frontrunner Silva tanked

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But a steady stream of negative advertising successfully beat back the Silva challenge, and Rousseff is now counting on the same machine to defeat Neves. Unlike in the first round, however, Neves will enjoy equal access to television airtime, so he’ll be on much more solid footing against Rousseff than Silva was.

Fresh off their first debate, however, Neves is still very much in the game. Here are the five things he needs to do between now and October 26 to become Brazil’s next president.

Continue reading Five things Neves must do to win the Brazilian presidency

Brazil election results: Five reasons why one-time frontrunner Silva tanked

silvalosesPhoto credit to Pedro Ladeira/Folhapress.

What the hell happened to Marina Silva’s presidential campaign?brazil

In the 2010 presidential election, Silva came out of nowhere to win 19.33% of the vote.

In 2014, she looked like she might win it all.

Instead, she blew what seemed like an insurmountable path to the October 26 runoff, falling into third place with just 21.32% of the vote, more than 10% behind the second-place finisher. That’s just under 2% more than she won four years ago.

When Brazilians choose their next president in three weeks, they’ll choose between the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, and the center-right former governor of Minas Gerais, Aécio Neves. Silva, now a two-time presidential loser, will be watching from the sidelines (though she’ll have at least some power as a kingmaker in what could be the closest presidential runoff in Brazilian politics since 1989).

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RELATED: In Depth — Brazil

RELATED: Neves will face Rousseff in runoff

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Fate — in the form of a tragic airplane crash — initially brought her into the 2014 presidential race, when her running mate Eduardo Campos’s plane crashed on the southern Brazilian coast on August 13.

Silva had wanted to make a second presidential bid all along, and polls showed that she was the most popular of Rousseff’s potential opponents. When her attempts to form a new party failed, Silva partnered with Campos, joining his center-left Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party) and serving as the party’s vice presidential candidate. In mid-August, she became the only clear choice to replace Campos on such short notice.

She peaked in late August, when a Datafolha poll showed Silva tied in the first round with Rousseff at 34%, Neves trailing with just 15%, and leading Rousseff with a nearly double-digit margin in a potential runoff.

Despite leading in the polls, despite having the support of a much stronger party organization in 2014, despite running a much more disciplined and politically moderate campaign and despite the sympathy of Brazilians mourning Campos, Silva failed.

So what happened? Here are five reasons that explain just why Silva will be sitting out the next round. Continue reading Brazil election results: Five reasons why one-time frontrunner Silva tanked

Brazil election results: Neves will face Rousseff in runoff

dilmaaecioPhoto credit to Ricardo Moraes/Reuters.

It’s a stunning resurrection for a politician who spent most of the past two months languishing in third place.brazil

But Aécio Neves, a Brazilian senator and the center-right candidate of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB, Brazilian Social Democracy Party), will face incumbent president Dilma Rousseff, the candidate of the center-left governing Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Workers Party), in an October 26 runoff.

Rousseff led with around 41.5% of the vote to just 33.5% for Neves and 21% for Marina Silva, the one-time frontrunner and the candidate of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party). Silva became the party’s presidential candidate only in late August after her original running mate, former Pernambuco governor Eduardo Campos, died in an airplane crash on August 13.

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RELATED: In Depth — Brazil

RELATED: Will Marina Silva be squeezed out of the Brazilian runoff?

RELATEDNeves struggles to puncture the Dilma-Marina Show

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In the days and weeks after Campos’s death, Silva, a former environmental minister and a one-time Rousseff ally, vaunted to the top of the polls, which showed for weeks that she would easily advance to the runoff against Rousseff, and that she had a shot at defeating Rousseff in a one-on-one contest.


Instead, Rousseff will face Neves, the former governor of Minas Gerais, who suddenly seems to have the best chance of unseating the PT in the 12 years since it first came to power under the still popular former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Continue reading Brazil election results: Neves will face Rousseff in runoff

Will Marina Silva be squeezed out of the Brazilian runoff?

nevesdilmaPhoto credit to Miguel Schincariol, AFP/File.

On the Friday before Brazil’s first-round general election, the biggest story is that the runoff that everyone expected — a showdown between incumbent president Dilma Rousseff and former environmental minister and presidential candidate Marina Silva — may not actually happen.brazil

It’s a stunning turn of events. Silva, the candidate of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party), is still the favorite to advance to a runoff against Rousseff, the candidate of the governing Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Workers Party), which has led Brazil since the 2002 election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

But it’s going to be a lot closer than anyone thought for the past six weeks, while Silva benefited from the sympathy of being the candidate to replace her late running mate, former Pernambuco governor Eduardo Campos, who died in a plane crash on August 13.

Can anyone guarantee, 48 hours out from election day, what will happen?

In a word, no.

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RELATED: In Depth — Brazil

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The latest Datafolha poll, taken between October 1 and 2, shows Rousseff, the candidate of the governing  with 40% of the vote to just 24% for Silva, and 21% for Aécio Neves (pictured above with Rouseff). When all undecided voters are allocated or eliminated, Rousseff wins 47% of the vote — just short of a stunning outright victory on Sunday. Rousseff would win a runoff against Silva by a margin of 48% to 41%.

Neves, a senator and the former governor of Minas Gerais, the candidate of the center-right Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB, Brazilian Social Democracy Party), could actually pip Silva to the runoff.

It’s not likely, but it’s a much more possible outcome than anyone believed even earlier this week.  Continue reading Will Marina Silva be squeezed out of the Brazilian runoff?

How Marina Silva became Brazil’s leading conservative candidate


On the eve of Sunday’s Brazilian general election, I write in The National Interest on Friday that Marina Silva, the candidate of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party), has become in many ways the most conservative candidate in the three-way presidential race.brazil

Though her poll numbers have dipped since she took a narrow lead in August and early September, she’s still expected to advance to an October 26 runoff against the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff. The latest Datafolha poll shows Rousseff with 40%, Silva with 25% and center-right challenger Aécio Neves with 20%. That’s a far different story than an August 28-29 survey that showed Rousseff and Silva tied at 34% each, with just 15% for Neves. That’s to be expected, perhaps, given that the sympathy for her party’s former candidate, Eduardo Campos, has subsided. Campos was killed in an airplane crash in early August.

Rousseff also leads in the runoff by a 49% to 41% margin. But Silva’s conservatism could help narrow that gap, especially with equalized financing for television advertising in the three weeks between the first round and the runoff. If Neves and his party, the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB, Brazilian Social Democracy Party) endorse Silva in the runoff, expect the polls to tighten again.

A member of Brazil’s growing evangelical community, Silva is anti-abortion and recently flip-flopped on same-sex marriage. But for a former environmental activist and the 2010 candidate of the Partido Verde (Green Party, PV) was, she has also become surprisingly conservative on economic policy, which has heartened Brazil’s business and investor class: Continue reading How Marina Silva became Brazil’s leading conservative candidate

Petrobras scandal highlights 12 years of Brazilian corruption

petrobrasPhoto credit to Geraldo Geraldo Falcão.

The most striking thing the latest sensational scandal involving Brazil’s state oil company is that president Dilma Rousseff’s poll standing has actually increased since the story broke three weeks ago.brazil

If Rousseff, as polls predict, wins the first round presidential vote on October 5, it will be largely because Brazilian voters have shrugged off the latest scandal involving Petrobras and several leading Brazilian figures, along with 12 years of scandals that have now accumulated after three consecutive terms of rule by Rousseff’s Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Workers Party).

Former Petrobras executive Paulo Roberto Costa, who was arrested in the spring during an investigation into money laundering, has allegedly testified that dozens of top officials, mostly within Rousseff’s own party, routinely took a 3% kickback on some of the company’s contracts dating back to 2004, when Rousseff, then the minister for energy and mines, technically oversaw Petrobras’s operations.

Among the politicians that Costa singled out was former Pernambuco governor Eduardo Campos, the former presidential candidate who died in a plane crash in August; Henrique Eduardo Alves, the president of the Câmara dos Deputados (Chamber of Deputies), the lower house of the Brazilian congress; and Edison Lobão, the minister for energy and mines, and a member of the centrist Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (PMDB, Brazilian Democratic Movement Party).

Campos’s alleged involvement may be why the allegations haven’t apparently hurt Rousseff’s ratings against Marina Silva, Campos’s former running mate and now the candidate of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party). Campos’s party spent much of the past 12 years supporting the governments of both Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Marina Silva, then a member of the Workers Party, served for five years as environmental minister.

But Rousseff’s other major rival, former Minas Gerais governor Aécio Neves, the candidate of the center-right Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB, Brazilian Social Democracy Party), has been unable to generate much success by emphasizing the scandal. Neves generally trails both Rousseff and Silva in polls ahead of Sunday’s first-round presidential vote. If, as expected, no candidate wins 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will advance to a runoff on October 26.

But as audacious as the Petrobras scandal could turn out to be, it will take its place under a penumbra of troubling corruption that dates back to Lula da Silva’s first term as president. Continue reading Petrobras scandal highlights 12 years of Brazilian corruption

Neves struggles to puncture the Dilma-Marina show


A month and a half ago, when Brazil’s investor class proclaimed its doubts about the reelection of president Dilma Rousseff, no one stood to gain more than Aécio Neves.minasgeraisbrazil

The grandson of a distinguished pro-democracy activist, Neves (pictured above) represents the next, post-lulista generation of Brazil’s center-right politics. Three decades younger than Brazil’s last conservative president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and more charismatic than former São Paulo governor and mayor José Serra, Neves brought to the race a strong pedigree and an accomplished record as an economic reformer as the two-term governor of the powerful, sprawling state of Minas Gerais.

That was before the airplane crash that killed former presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, which suddenly catapulted his running mate, the popular Marina Silva, into the presidential race.

Where Neves once had credible hopes of becoming Brazil’s next president, he now seems likelier to play a kingmaker role in what’s shaping up to be a fiercely contested runoff between Rousseff and Dilma.

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RELATED: Why Marina Silva must now step up for the Brazilian left

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Within days, Silva leapt to the lead in polls for the race to become Brazil’s next president. Though Rousseff has now recovered a first-round lead in many polls, Neves is still languishing in third place, far behind both Rousseff and Silva, a reverse from the summer, when Neves held a solid second-place position against the late Campos, who was leading a coalition anchored by the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party) that, until recently, supported the Rousseff government.

Polls show that the October 26 runoff will be incredibly tight between the two women, and many officials within Neves’s party, the center-right Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB, Brazilian Social Democracy Party), popularly known as the tucanos (‘toucans’) was already talking a month ago about how they’ll support Silva, a former environmental minister under Rousseff’s mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in the runoff. Armino Fraga, a former central bank president known for stabilizing the Brazilian real in the early 2000s, who returned to the fray to help elect Neves, is now being floated instead as a possible finance minister in a potential Silva administration. Fraga, for now, refuses to serve in any administration other than Neves’s.  Continue reading Neves struggles to puncture the Dilma-Marina show

Brazilian Socialists finalize Silva-Albuquerque ticket


One week after the tragic airplane crash that ended the life  of Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, his party has quickly minted a new ticket for the October general election.brazil

As widely expected, Campos’s running mate Marina Silva agreed to run in Campos’s place as the candidate of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party), which only last year broke with its longtime alliance with the governing Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Workers Party), the party of Brazil’s incumbent president Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

For her part, Silva is a former PT legislator and environmental activist, who served as Lula’s environmental minister between 2003 and 2008 before she broke with Lula. She subsequently joined the Partido Verde (PV, Green Party) to run for president four years ago — winning nearly 20% of the vote against Rousseff in the first round of the 2010 election. 

In 2014, difficulties in registering a new party forced Silva to shelve, however reluctantly, her presidential ambitions and she joined the Brazilian Socialists. Campos, the former popular governor of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, named Silva as his running mate.

That all changed last week with the air crash in São Paulo state that killed Campos and brought the Brazilian election campaign to a halt as Rousseff, Silva and the rest of Brazil’s political class paused to mourn Campos.

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RELATED Campos, Brazilian presidential candidate, dies in plane crash
: Why Marina Silva must now step up for the Brazilian left

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With 10 days to select a new candidate, and with just weeks to go before the election’s first round on October 5, the PSB chose Silva over the weekend to lead its ticket, on the condition that Silva, who hasn’t always been the most disciplined candidate in the past, and who is a newcomer to the PSB, will continue to honor the party’s electoral program and regional alliances. Technically, like Rousseff and center-right challenger Aécio Neves, Silva will head a coalition of parties in the presidential race. Silva’s coalition, though dominated by the PSB, also includes five smaller parties, such as the    Partido Popular Socialista (PPS, Popular Socialist Party). 

The whirlwind of events brings to the presidential race a candidate who, ironically, garnered much more support than Campos ever had. Continue reading Brazilian Socialists finalize Silva-Albuquerque ticket

Why Marina Silva must now step up for the Brazilian left


It will take more than ten days for the followers of former Pernambuco governor Eduardo Campos to mourn the untimely death of their candidate in the presidential election that’s now less than eight weeks away.brazil

But within the next ten days, the party that Campos led, the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party), coordinating with the coalition that supported his presidential candidacy, must turn to the pressing reality of selecting a new candidate, who must then hit the ground running as the general election campaign is set to begin.

There’s no way to underestimate the impact of Brazil’s October general election. With around 203 million people, Brazil is the world’s fifth-most populous country, and it’s the most populous country in Latin America, where the Brazilian president holds significant regional political clout. Despite recent troubles with growth and the value of its currency, Brazil’s $2.25 trillion economy is also the largest in Latin America and the seventh-largest economy in the world, and its status as one of the BRICs makes it one of the leading global emerging markets.

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RELATED: Eduardo Campos, Brazilian presidential candidate,
dies in plane crash

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There’s no rule that Campos’s running mate will automatically succeed him, but no one is more prepared to take on that challenge than vice presidential candidate Marina Silva (pictured above, as Campos looks on), the former environmental minister who placed third in the last presidential election in 2010.


Silva, visibly shaken earlier today, was reportedly set to join the fatal flight that took not only Campos’s life, but the lives of six other individuals. She spoke briefly to reporters today after the crash, and she is now on her way to Santos, the port city in São Paulo state where Campos’s flight fell:

“A imagem que eu vou guardar dele é da nossa despedida de ontem, cheio de alegria, cheiio de sonhos, cheio de compromissos”, lembrou Marina. [“The image that I’ll save is our farewell yesterday, full of joy, full of dreams, full of compromises,” said Marina.”]

Tragically, Campos’s death now provides Silva the best chance of her political career to become Brazil’s president. Continue reading Why Marina Silva must now step up for the Brazilian left

Eduardo Campos, Brazilian presidential candidate, dies in plane crash


Eduardo Campos, a popular former two-term governor of the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco, and a former minister of science and technology nearly a decade ago under former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, died at age 49 today in a tragic airplane crash while campaigning in the coastal state of São Paulo earlier today. Pernambucobrazil

Campos was one of seven people on board the small plane, all of whom died when the aircraft crashed into a neighborhood in the port city of Santos, reportedly due to poor weather.  

Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, and Campos’s rival in the upcoming October presidential election, called for a three-day period of national mourning and suspended her own campaign activities. 

Campos (pictured above) was selected as the presidential candidate of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party). Once a supporter of Lula da Silva and his successor, Rousseff, the Brazilian Socialists, under Campos’s leadership, left Rousseff’s broad government coalition last November, and the party has been gaining support in recent years.

Polls generally showed that Campos trailed Rousseff, who is seeking reelection as the candidate of a wide coalition headed by her own Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Workers Party), as well as the more center-right candidate, Aécio Neves, the candidate of Serra’s center-right Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB, Brazilian Social Democracy Party). The most recent Ibope survey, dated August 3 to August 6, gave Rousseff 38%, Neves 23% and Campos 9%, though the race was expected to narrow as more Brazilians paid increasing attention to race. 

Accordingly, Campos and his popular running mate, Marina Silva (who was not on the flight with Campos), were capable of building a serious campaign alternative to both Rousseff and Neves, with possible banks of support among urban progressives in cities like Rio de Janeiro and Brasília; rural voters from Campos’s Nordeste region, who have tilted tilting more to the left in recent years; and former lulista supporters disenchanted with the growing centrism of the Worker’s Party.

The PSB, and the wider coalition that had united to support Campos, has ten days to decide how to replace Campos, but Silva would almost certainly be the best to carry forward Campos’s legacy, and she’s by far the most well-known candidate who could so quickly replace Campos.

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RELATED: Rousseff holds weak lead as reelection challenge
looms in Brazil

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Late last year, Campos formed an alliance with former presidential candidate Marina Silva, a former environmental minister, green activist, evangelical and prominent Afro-Brazilian figure who won nearly 20% of the vote in the last presidential election in 2010.

Though Silva was running as Campos’s running mate in the current election, and she even formally joined the Brazilian Socialists to do so, many of her fans believed that Silva — and not Campos — should have led their joint ticket. Running on the strength of Campos’s legacy, her own popularity and the broad leftist platform that the PSB and its allies espouse, Silva’s candidacy could upend the race into a close three-way contest.

Campos comes from a long line of Brazilian politicians in Pernambuco, where his grandfather, Miguel Arraes, served three times as state governor, in addition to serving as mayor of Recife and as a member of the Brazilian parliament, despite a 15-year exile during Brazil’s military government of the 1960s and 1970s. Continue reading Eduardo Campos, Brazilian presidential candidate, dies in plane crash

Rousseff holds weak lead as reelection challenge looms in Brazil


It’s still Lula’s Brazil. And it’s perhaps easier to think that Brazil’s October election is less a referendum on president Dilma Rousseff’s reelection, and more the challenge of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Workers Party) to win a fourth term in the presidential palace at Planalto.brazil

If Rousseff, as polls currently predict, wins a second term, the Workers Party will have governed Brazil from 2003 until at least 2019 — nearly half of the period since the fall of Brazil’s last military regime in 1985.

But polls can be also misleading, and they can easily change over the course the next 65 days until Brazilians vote.

Just ask Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, who watched a wide double-digit lead evaporate between March and May, when he narrowly lost the first round of Colombia’s presidential election to the more conservative candidate, former finance minister Óscar Iván Zuluaga. Though Santos ultimately defeated Zuluaga in the runoff two weeks later on June 14, it was an incredible scare for the incumbent — and it could have tanked the Colombian government’s historic peace accords with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

The stakes of Brazil’s general election on October 5 (and runoff, if necessary, on October 26, in the presidential and gubernatorial elections) are no less vital. In addition to the presidency, Brazilian voters will elect all 513 members of the Câmara dos Deputados (Chamber of Deputies), 54 of the 81 Brazilian senators, and the governors of all 26 states and the Distrito Federal.

Brazil remains the largest economy in Latin America, with promising offshore oil exploration, a rising middle class and a dynamic political marketplace. Just two decades ago, the country was rising out of military dictatorship, marked inequality, hyperinflation and economic misery. Rio de Janeiro, the country’s second-most populous city, is set to host the Summer Olympics in 2016, the first South American city to do so.

Nevertheless, Rousseff’s lead is every bit as precarious as Santos’s was in Colombia. In the October 2010 election, Rousseff was forced into a runoff by her more conservative rival José Serra, a former senator and former São Paulo mayor and governor. Though Rousseff ultimately defeated Serra in the second round by a margin of 56.05% to 43.95%, many Brazilians were surprised that Rousseff didn’t win the first-round election outright, as her predecessor, Lula  (pictured above with Rousseff), did in 2006.


This time around, she’ll face Aécio Neves (pictured above), the candidate of Serra’s center-right Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB, Brazilian Social Democracy Party). Continue reading Rousseff holds weak lead as reelection challenge looms in Brazil

14 in 2014: Brazil general election


13. Brazil general election, October 5 (presidential runoff on October 26).brazil

Though Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff holds a wide polling edge that favors reelection, her broad support is not necessarily deep, as demonstrated by the massive anti-government protests in 2013 that resulted from increased public transportation fees and eventually targeted Brazil’s stagnant economy, poor job opportunities and political corruption.  An economy that was not long ago soaring grew by just 0.9% in 2012 and is expected to grow by a hardly stellar 2.5% in 2013.  What’s more, Rousseff (pictured above) still has to get through most of 2014 — and there’s plenty of time for the opposition to upend her lead.  She’s running for what would be the fourth consecutive presidential term for the social democratic Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Workers Party), itself testament to the enduring popularity of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Her prospects became more difficult in October 2013, when former presidential candidate Marina Silva decided to join forces with the candidate of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party), Eduardo Campos, the two-term governor of Pernambuco state in northeastern Brazil.  Though it unofficially supported Lula da Silva’s reelection in 2006 and formally supported Rousseff in 2010, the PSB left Rousseff’s government in September 2013.

Though Campos is (for now) the presidential candidate, his running mate is by far a much more popular figure nationally.  One of Brazil’s most prominent politicians of African descent, Silva served as Lula da Silva’s environment minister between 2003 and 2008, where she earned a reputation as a staunch defender of Brazil’s fragile rain forests and often found herself at odds with the more business-friendly instincts of others within her own government.  Running as the candidate of Brazil’s Partido Verde (PV, Green Party), she won 19% of the vote in the first round of the October 2010 presidential election, and she was trying to found a new ‘sustainability party’ in 2013 before obstacles made that path impossible.  Campos, who likewise served in Lula da Silva’s administration as minister for science and technology between 2004 and 2008, became Pernambuco’s governor in 2007 and was reelection with 82% of the vote in 2010.

The combination makes for an amazingly balanced ticket.  Campos’s geographic base is Brazil’s northeast, while Silva has more support in the south and southeast.  Campos is popular among business interests and could credibly appeal to conservatives who chafe under the increasingly regulatory intervention of Rousseff’s administration, while Silva is popular among younger Brazilians who are disenchanted with politics as usual.  They’re both opposition candidates who nonetheless have ties to Lula da Silva, bringing some continuity with Brazilian policy over the past decade.  Together they could build a credible anti-Rousseff coalition from among voters to her left and to her right, especially in a runoff.

Brazil’s center-right Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB, Brazilian Social Democracy Party) will likely be represented by Aécio Neves, who served as governor of Minas Gerais, the second-most populous state in Brazil and home to Belo Horizonte, from 2003 to 2010.  As governor, Neves cut the state’s budget and promoted investment, transforming the state’s fiscal outlook in a way that attracted national and international regard.  In 2010, he was elected to the Senado Federal (Federal Senate), the upper house of Brazil’s Congresso Nacional (National Congress), and in 2013, he became the leader of the PSDB, making him the favorite to become its 2014 presidential contender as well.

With so much time until the election, the presumed candidates aren’t fully settled — and parties don’t have to make decisions until 2014.  Silva and Campos could change places on the ticket, for example.  Conceivably, Rousseff could step aside for former president Lula da Silva, though he announced early in 2013 that he wasn’t running and that he was supporting Rousseff for reelection.  If Neves falters on the campaign trail, José Serra, the former São Paulo mayor, São Paulo state governor, planning minister and health minister could replace him on the ticket.  But at age 71, Serra is seen as yesterday’s man — he lost the 2002 presidential race to Lula da Silva by a wide margin and lost a second bid in the October 2010 race to Rousseff by a margin of around 56% to 44%.  What’s more, he lost a comeback bid to return as mayor of São Paulo in October 2012 by a similarly wide margin.

Brazil will also elect one-third of its Senate (27 out of 81 seats) and all 513 members of the Câmara dos Deputados (Chamber of Deputies), the lower house of the National Congress.  Despite over a dozen major parties with at least 10 deputies, the parties align into a ‘lulista’ bloc and a center-right bloc, which gives Rousseff a majority in both houses, including 50 senators and 325 deputies.  Other parties who support Rousseff’s government, however, are still undecided as between Rousseff and Campos, including the second-largest party in the National Congress, the big tent Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (PMDB, Brazilian Democratic Movement Party), and the center-right Partido Progressista (PP, Progressive Party).

Next: US Midterms