Brazilian Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff handily beat Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) candidate José Serra on Sunday in the second-round of voting to become Brazil’s first female president-elect. The final tally gave her 56.05 percent support (55.7 million votes) to 43.95 percent (43.7 million votes) for Mr. Serra. The outcome was no surprise to most observers, as polls had shown Ms. Rousseff with a substantial lead over her rival in the weeks leading up to the election.
President-elect Rousseff spoke after news of her victory in equally compelling language about her goals for handling poverty and the Brazilian economy saying, “We can not rest as long as Brazilians are hungry, while there are families living on the streets, while poor children are abandoned to their fate." She then also stated that "it is necessary, multilaterally, to establish clearer rules for the restoration of capital markets, limiting excessive speculation and leveraging, which increase the volatility of capital markets and currencies."
One day after her electoral victory, Ms. Rousseff maintained a busy schedule at her home in Brasilia. According to local media sources, she was visited by political allies including PT President José Eduardo Dutra, former Finance Minister Antonio Palocci, and special presidential adviser for international affairs, Marco Aurélio Garcia—all of whom have been tapped to assist in preparations for the transition.
Marco Aurélio Garcia, President Lula’s special advisor for international affairs, announced that Rousseff will accompany the president to Mozambique and then on to the G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea, on November 11-12.
Reports from Brazil this week indicate that the presidential candidates’ positions on abortion are becoming a significant factor in the country’s October 31 second-round contest between Worker’s Party candidate Dilma Rousseff and her Social Democracy Party opponent José Serra. Abortion has not historically played a prominent role in national elections in Brazil despite having the world’s largest Catholic population and a growing number of evangelical Christians.
The rise to prominence of the abortion issue is likely tied to the candidates’ efforts to woo supporters of Green Party candidate and evangelical Marina Silva, who dropped out of the race after winning an unexpectedly high 19 percent of the national vote. Analysts are now suggesting that the Workers’ Party’s traditional support for abortion and gay marriage may have cost Dilma Rousseff in the first round of voting and could play a defining role in the increasingly tight race's outcome.
In a televised debate last Sunday, Rousseff and Serra publicly clashed on the abortion issue. Serra accused Rousseff of changing her previous stance, while Rousseff responded that Serra “has a thousand faces” and accused him of slander.
Abortion is illegal in Brazil except in cases of rape or if the mother’s life is at risk. Estimates vary, but the Brazilian Ministry of Health claims one million illegal abortions are performed per year and are the fourth largest cause of maternal mortality.
Although stocks are not likely to be affected by yesterday’s election, the Brazilian real is likely to continue appreciating ahead of what will now be a second round of voting.
Catching some observers by surprise, presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff, the former chief of staff to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, received 46.9 percent of total votes cast in national elections on Sunday—just shy of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff election against former São Paulo Governor José Serra. Mr. Serra won 32.6 percent of the votes, followed by Green Party candidate Marina Silva, who captured 19.3 percent.
Going into the election, the Brazilian real, traded at about 1.68 per dollar, its highest level since the September 2008 financial crisis in the United States. This is a clear change from most past elections that have been preceded by market jitters.
With the presidential decision now on hold until a second round on October 31, the government is unlikely to make any moves that could affect the exchange rate. "In the near term, the Brazilian real is likely to continue to strengthen as the government will put off any announcements of policies to help weaken the currency," said Doug Smith of Standard Chartered Bank.
Stay tuned for more election coverage from AQ Blogger, Paulo Rogerio.
(Homepage photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho.)
In a spell of good news for the handpicked candidate of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, an Ibope poll released yesterday shows Dilma Rousseff leading opposition candidate José Serra, 40 percent to 35 percent.
According to Rafael Lucchesi, director of operations for the national confederation of industry, which commissioned the poll, Dilma’s position is bolstered by “the economy, the popularity of the government, the popularity of the president, and his capacity to influence the electoral process." Economic growth reached 9 percent in the first quarter of 2010, the best performance in 14 years, despite continued malaise in the global economy.
Lula’s effect on the race is also growing. He has a 75 percent approval rating—the record for a Brazilian president—and is working with his party, the Partido dos Trabalhadores, to raise Dilma’s name recognition among voters. In March, Ibope found that only 58 percent of Brazilians could identify the candidate that Lula supports; in yesterday’s poll, that number grew to 73 percent.
The campaign for the October 3, 2010, presidential vote is still in its early stage. The candidates formally accepted their nominations just two weeks ago, and until the World Cup is over on July 11, much of Brazil’s attention is on South Africa.
Dilma Rousseff, the former cabinet chief for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, accepted the formal nomination on Sunday of Lula’s Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) for the October presidential election. Among her opponents will be José Serra of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) who also received his party’s nomination this past weekend.
In accepting her nomination, Rouseff pledged to continue Lula’s policy of reducing poverty and improve the tax system, but sought to distinguish herself from Lula as well, announcing that she would govern with the “heart and soul of a woman.”
Serra, an economist who has long served in state and federal government, criticized the current administration for turning a blind eye toward corruption and announced his concern for human rights issues. Lula has engaged closely with Cuba and Iran, despite their poor track record on human rights.
An Ibope poll released on June 5 reveals a close race, with each of the leading candidates registering 37 percent approval. It also showed that Rousseff is more popular among female supporters than her counterpart, Serra.
Lula is barred from a third consecutive term by the Brazilian constitution.
As próximas eleições presidenciais brasileiras não só marcarão o fim da chamada "era Lula"—quando o atual presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva finaliza o seu segundo mandato, mas também será a primeira vez que o uso das redes sociais como Twitter, Orkut, Facebook e Ning será autorizado pelo Tribunal Superior Eleitoral nas campanhas políticas. Por esses e outros motivos, esse pleito eleitoral pretende entrar para história como um dos mais complexos e disputados.
Até 2009, a legislação brasileira proibia campanhas eleitorais pela internet, com exceção dos sites oficiais destinados a este fim, que tinha o final ".can". Nas últimas eleições, por exemplo, a rede social Orkut foi obrigada a deletar arbitrariamente perfis de jovens que adicionavam números dos candidatos em suas fotos de apresentação ou faziam apologias político-partidárias nos fóruns. Uma ação quase inquisitória em um ambiente tradicionalmente livre da Internet, além de ferir a liberdade de expressão.
Brazilian President Lula da Silva today announced a $550 billion long-term infrastructure investment plan called the PAC II, which is the second installment of the government’s accelerated growth program. When combined with the $504 billion in budget allocations outlined by PAC I in 2007, Brazil’s targeted infrastructural investments should eventually total more than $1 trillion over a 10-year period.
The timing of today’s announcement was likely intended to coincide with the resignation of Dilma Rousseff—chief minister to President Lula da Silva and his chosen successor to the presidency—so that she can begin preparations to kick off her presidential campaign in July. Ms. Rousseff is expected to tout the PAC II investments as evidence that Lula's center-left government is rapidly improving Brazil’s dilapidated infrastructure and promoting robust economic growth.
The most probable centrist opposition candidate in Brazil’s October presidential elections, former health minister José Serra, who has been leading in local opinion polls, dismisses the program as government propaganda and points to widespread delays during the first phase of the program as evidence of its shortcomings.