Gritty Elections in Brasil

Brasil, with the world’s seventh largest economy and a total estimated GDP of $2.4 trillion according to Forbes, is holding their presidential elections today; October 5, 2014.

Original candidates running are incumbent President Dilma Rousseff, Brasilian Socialist Party Candidate Eduardo Campos, and Aecio Neves Brasilian economist and former president of the Brasilian Social Democracy Party.  However in August 2014, the foreseen elections took an unfortunate turn.

The Brazilian Socialist Party candidate died when the private Cessna Citation in which he was traveling crashed into a residential area of the coastal city of Santos, about 35 miles south of São Paulo,” as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Taking over Campos’s place was Marina Silva an environmentalist and politician is was a former member of the Workers Party (WP).

So why is this election so important to the global community? What does each candidate stand for and how does it effect the future of Brasil?

Electing a new president is an exciting thing, and this Sunday the new face (or the same) of Brasil is to be voted on. The ideologies of each candidate would represent something different for the country; in the wake of inequality protests, a fallen economy and scandal, the chosen leader will distinctly shape the future of the country and its reactions to outside relations.

President Rousseff, is the 36th incumbent president and the first woman to be president in Brasil. The daughter of a Bulgarian businessman, Rousseff grew up in the middle class and joined a socialist movement during her younger years, eventually leading to her arrest as she was apart of a Marxist Urban guerilla that fought against a military dictatorship.

Current Brasilian president, Dilma Rousseff.
Current Brasilian president, Dilma Rousseff.

In 2002 Rousseff began to work in the committee of energy and policy under former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. From there in 2005 she became Minister of Energy working until 2010 when she stepped down to run for president and won.

Despite Rousseff’s radical roots, her ideology has changed drastically from Marxism to a pro-capitalist framework. Although from the get-go it was assumed Rousseff would be pro-privatization and neoliberalism, her policies and actions over privatization have been ambiguous. According to the New York Times,

The election has been followed closely throughout Latin America, with Ms. Rousseff’s government supporting leftist allies in Venezuela and Cuba. The campaigning has also fueled volatility in financial markets as big investors expressed anxiety over some of Ms. Rousseff‘s policies, which have expanded the influence of big state companies in the economy.”

A strong competitor to Rousseff, is Marina Silva, “the daughter of impoverished rubber tappers from the Amazon, ” as Reuters describes her in an article. Silva, of Portuguese and African descent, comes from a humbling background, that is relate-able to many regions and groups within Brasil.

Asked in an interview with Reuters last week what it would mean to be Brazil’s first black president, Silva replied: “Not just (that) … I’d also be the first environmentalist. I’m very proud of my identity as a black woman,” she continued. “But I don’t make political use of my faith, or my color. I’m going to govern for blacks, whites, (Asians), believers, non-believers, independent of their color or social conditions.”‘

Marina Silva, an environmentalist and politician, in the running in Brasil's presidential election this Sunday.
Marina Silva, an environmentalist and politician, running in Brasil’s presidential election this Sunday.

Silva, as an environmentalist and winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, plans to protect the amazon region and maintain other environmental stability projects. However, Silva is more conservative than expected as she has openly embraced large scale hydroelectricity projects and offshore oil development. According the The National Interest,

On foreign policy, Silva and her team have signaled that they would like to enhance Brazilian trade with the United States, and they have indicated that a Silva administration would pursue a more balanced foreign policy, which will delight Washington and spook both Caracas’ increasingly desperate government and the glacial, gerontocratic government.”

This is a very important point, as Rousseff was working with her allies of Venezuela and Cuba to move away from the United States and increase partnerships with China and Russia.

Silva also points out that mass deforestation has been the due to the policies and lack of protection under Rousseff, according to the New York Times. Silva wants to:

shift toward energy sources viewed as having less of an impact on the environment. With the Amazon gaining importance as a strategic pillar of Brazil’s economy — which is the largest in Latin America — the jump in deforestation has each candidate lashing out at the other.”

Deforestation in the Brasilian Amazon.
Deforestation in the Brasilian Amazon.

Last, but not least is candidate Aecio Neves, who introduced the idea of a “Management Shock.” Under this idea, a set of reforms would be implemented designed to bring the state budget under control by reducing government expenditure and promoting investment. Unfortunately, in the most competitive election since the reestablishment of democracy in Brasil in the 1980’s, the odds are not in the favor of Neves as he has about 1/5 voter support, according to Bloomberg News.

The chosen representative for the PSDB (Brasilian Social Democrat Party), many of Neves’s ideas align with Silva’s in slowing inflation to the target number of 4.5 percent and pledging to adopt stricter “fiscal discipline,” as sited by Bloomberg News.

Aecio Neves, Brasilian economist, PSDB member, and presidential candidate.
Aecio Neves, Brasilian economist, PSDB member, and presidential candidate.

Although Rousseff, the estimated leader in the polls, greatly attracts the working class and the majority of Brasil in-spite of the economic recession and a slowed economy, economic gains have been made to bring Brasil to where it is and the people will not forget that. What many have realized however, is

…that Rousseff has placed vanity projects, like hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, over more fundamental issues like the cost of public transportation, health care and education.”

As said by The National Interest, prior to and in the wake of the 2014 World Cup, the Rousseff administration has seen widespread protests and fended off corrupt allegations.

Brasilian protests of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Brasilian protests of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Protestors gather in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, June 18, 2013.  Some of the biggest demonstrations since the end of Brazil's 1964-85 dictatorship have broke out across this continent-sized country, uniting multitudes frustrated by poor transportation, health services, education and security despite a heavy tax burden. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)
Protestors gathered in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Sao Paulo, Brasil, Tuesday, June 18, 2013. Some of the biggest demonstrations since the end of Brasil’s 1964-85 dictatorship have broke out across this continent-sized country, uniting multitudes frustrated by poor transportation, health services, education and security despite a heavy tax burden. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)

 

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