The eyes of the entire world were turned towards Brazil during this summers FIFA’s World Cup. However, the World Cup wasn’t the only mayor event in Brazil this year, as the worlds 5th largest democracy is currently preparing itself to elect a new president on October 26th, after an exciting first round in early October. This article explores the recent events in Brazil’s captivating election, before its definitive round. Brazilian citizens and international markets remain observant to the path that one of the world biggest economic players is about to take; in an election that has been marked by football, a plane crash, religion and more.
Earlier this year, the news was invaded with footage from Brazilian protesters; it was the biggest rallies the Brazilian government had witnessed in the past 20 years, comparable to those of the Corinthians’ democratic movement. Brazil’s 20th century history has been marked by military rule, instability and systematic violations of human rights; yet, the turn of the 21th century looked quite different, as Brazil’s economy boomed and the country celebrated its 3rd fully democratic election. In 2003 Lula da Silva was sworn as president, being the first president from the Workers Party (PT) in Brazil’s history. The years that followed Lula’s election were marked by reductions in extreme poverty and malnutrition, low levels of inflation, stability and growth. But Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s successor, has been less successful with discontent growing in Brazil, which was fuelled by World Cup corruption scandals.
The first round of elections this year took place on October 5th; it was a spectacular and intense first round in which Brazil’s two largest political parties (which have dominated since the return to democracy in 1985) were challenged by former PT’s environmental minister Marina Silva. Marina, the former PT cabinet member arrived at the elections as the vice-presidential ticket for the Socialist Party (PSB); but in a twist of fate, the tragic death of presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash promoted Marina into the presidential ballot. Just a week before the first round, the polls placed Marina as Dilma Rousseff, from the Workers Party (PT) and incumbent presidential candidate, biggest opponent. But Marina, born into a family of rubber tappers in one of Brazil’s poorest regions, failed to gain the votes to go into definitive runoff with Dilma. Now, both of the first round winners Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party (PT) with 41. 5% of the votes and Aecio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) with 33.5% of the votes are seeking to win the hearths of Marina’s 20% share of the electorate. Though, Marina has already sided with Neves, allegedly in consequence of the tough media campaign displayed by the Workers Party against her in the weeks prior to the first round, it remains unclear in which direction her voters will go.
Dilma’s political figure, as a former left-guerrilla fighter brought her a great deal of popularity back in 2011, but now after 4 years in power and continuous corruptions scandals around the PT party, and a stagnating economy, her popularity has declined. Her supporters argue that Brazilian stagnating economy is not the result of Dilma’s mismanagement, but that it has been negatively affected by the deteriorating situation in Argentina and the Chinese growth slowdown. However, large parts of the populations remain discontent and increasingly infuriated by the constant corruption scandals in which the preparations for FIFA World Cup 2014 and the Rio Olympic Games 2016 has played a significant part.
As Brazil economic growth has slowed down, the country’s economy has come to the forefront of the presidential campaign with two opposite, but not distant, views. Aecio Neves is the grandchild of former elected president Tancredo Neves and the youngest governor of Minas Gerais history. Aecio and his party platform based on fiscal austerity measures that aim to make Brazil more appealing for business and international investors alike. Minas Gerais is priced as the most business friendly state of Brazil and Aecio believes that Brazils’ needs to change its current economic interventionist path in order to foster economic growth.
On the other hand Dilma and the PT enjoy high levels of popularity despite the corruption scandals and current economic recession. During its time in office, the PT has lifted millions of Brazilian out of poverty, and has reduces the skewed income distribution; Brazil currently enjoys record low levels of unemployment. Also during both Lula and Dilma’s time in office, Brazil has emerged into the world scene as economic actors fostering economical integration with different groups. Dilma has also promised to appoint a new finance minister if re-elected in order to continue with the reforms needed to boost Brazil’s economy. Moreover, PT’s flagship anti-poverty program Bolsa Familia emerged as one of this election winner as none of the candidates questioned its continuity; though, Dilma has promised to expand it in the near future.
The time for Brazilians to decide which model of society and development they will follow has come. Will Dilma and PT retain office or will the traditional elites retake the reins of the country? The country’s economy remains at stake and millions of Brazilians expect it to reactivate and gain momentum, but who is to deliver it?
Camilo Téllez Robayo