Monthly Archives: October 2014

Rousseff reelected means the beginning of the 3rd round of Brazil elections

The campaign about change became the campaign about rejection: about 40% said no to continuity with change and about 40% said no to change with continuity — 20%, as usual, simply abstained. In the end, after bitter three weeks, President Dilma Rousseff was reelected with the support of 38% of the actual Brazilian electorate, in the tightest election the country has ever seen. She has the Presidency and 100% of the ministers and government officials, but the mandate is thin. Until January 1st 2015, when she inaugurates her second term, there will be a third round: pressure is coming from all sides and she will have to make concessions to govern. The question is who will get their way and who will be frustrated enough to become a great obstacle.

Rousseff’s mandate is thin for a number of reasons. The first one is the perception she has micromanaged Brazil’s economy. That is why opposition’s Aécio Neves focused his criticism on inflation — which deeply affects income — and the low growth in the last few years. The president has insisted jobs were at a very high level despite the sluggish economy. She also said that social programs cannot be targeted by budget cuts. But now comes the hard part: she will have to show how to do that and lose minimum political capital. From one side, she has social movements insisting she has to better those wealth distribution mechanisms. On the other she has fiscal conservatives saying inflation should be stopped. Stock brokers want that and higher gas prices to help Petrobras.

The name of the next finance minister is important to show where the president is going. Still a less interventionist Rousseff matters much more to the market than the person she picks for the job — and her role from now on is far from clear. Of course speculators in the stock market can always find a way to go bullish after a sell-off. But the folks in Brazil’s decaying industry are a different business.  If jobs start shrinking because of the economic difficulties Brazil might face in times of adjustments, the president’s popularity can be affected and changes for the Worker’s Party to remain in the Palácio do Planalto in 2018 can start to wane. Never forget the two main drivers of Brazil’s political landscape are jobs and income — all the other aspects are extra.

That doesn’t mean the extras have left the scene, though. Corruption at Petrobras has just begun to be investigated. A very partisan magazine linked Rousseff and Lula to the scandal, which angered many voters in opposition stronghold state of São Paulo. In that state alone, Neves won by 7 million votes. The president eliminated that difference by winning in the poor Northeast by 11 million votes. That contrast between the North and the South has also sparked many racist incidents coming from the losing side, which has certainly affected Brazil’s social fabric in the last few days. Rousseff will have to support the investigations, even if they hurt those close to her, show she is truly independent and, at the same time, cool off the hatred seen since her victory.

Politically the situation is now much more complex for the president. Congress has gone conservative enough to stop major reforms that she would approve of. It is also much more pulverized between political parties (there is even a G10 in Congress to separate those that actually have a large group of MPs from those that elected just a few). Opposition supporters are signing petitions asking for her impeachment, based on a baseless cover of a partisan magazine. The heavy defeat in São Paulo state can be lethal to the chances of Lula in 2018 if his mayor Fernando Haddad doesn’t hold the powerful state capital for the Worker’s Party. All these things will be on Rousseff’s mind in 2015.

There is certainly loads of speculations that have earned media interest since Sunday, but I think there are more doubts than certainties in the next administration. It certainly looks like Rousseff has won the debate on the importance of social programs and the strengthening of the minimum wage. But if fiscal difficulties are not sorted soon those will also be at risk.




Everything you always wanted to know about Brazilian elections (according to me)

Let me reintroduce myself. I am a reporter since 2004.In 2006 I covered Brazil presidential elections for Reuters. In 2010, I was working for UOL, Brazil’s most popular news site. Soon afterwards I became their senior correspondent in Brasilia, writing stories about Congress, President Dilma Rousseff, ministers and Supreme Court trials. I left in 2012 to cover the Olympic Games for the third time and to take my master’s in London. Now I am a freelancer, mostly to English speaking outlets, and also a Brazilian politics specialist. This Sunday I will be on Al Jazeera many times during election day to talk about the future of Brazil.

Thanks to all readers who have endured this gruesome campaign with me. I have to say I am excited. No preference at all: Dilma Rousseff can resist a more conservative Congress like the one Brazil just elected, but Aécio Neves can also frustrate radicals who want him to throw successful social programs away. They are both moderates and very similar, to be honest.

If you need a Brazil analyst or a freelancer, get in touch.

So here are links of every political story I wrote in this blog since the June 2013 protests — before that moment I barely touched this, I have to admit. I think I have been reasonably right about most of this political process, but you are all free to disagree.

2014 campaign trail from October to August

The four most important moments of the Dilma Rousseff administration
President Dilma Rousseff is a moderate. Her fans are a bit crazy, though
Top 5 jingles in Brazilian presidential elections
Opposition’s Aécio Neves is a moderate. His fans are a bit crazy, though
Brazil’s run-off: continuity with change or change with continuity?
Brazilian elections for dummies: what is at stake in the first vote
And winner of Brazil’s presidential elections is… Lula da Silva
Brazil presidential hopefuls face tough challenges until October 5
Presidential hopeful Marina Silva is whatever you want — that’s why she is rising
Who was Eduardo Campos and why his death matters so much
What really matters in Brazil’s presidential elections

2014  from June to January

The Brazilian 1% at the World Cup opener: an elite in need of a reality check
It is the World Cup that has to be ready for Brazil
Brazilian elite uses the World Cup to show their discomfort in being Brazilian
What does the Brazilian military do now?
Brazil is so democratic 50 years after coup that mainstream politicians were all against the dictators
Protests, and the World Cup – Changing attitudes
How to detect a Brazilian political idiot
Brazil does not have apartheid, exactly
Flashmobs at malls beg the question: what is the role of the Brazilian elite?
Fourteen predictions for Brazil in 2014

2013 from December to June

After 3 years of sluggish growth, Brazil needs to change its economy
The 2014 World Cup and politics – a love story
Brazil in my 10 years as a journalist
World Cup spending shows Brazilians can’t tell policies from corruption
Brazilian opposition alliance is an improvisation, not a symbol of power
Snub on the US makes Rousseff the favorite again for re-election in Brazil
Brazil’s debt relief in Africa shows how confusing our foreign policy is
Mark my words: protests in the World Cup will be small. Maybe violent, though
Why is Brazil important?
Brazilian doctors don’t like foreigners. Specially when they come to help
New Brazil HDI shows how much the dictatorship hurt the country
Brazilians love Pope Francis for similar reasons they still miss President Lula
Top 10 most unbelievable things Brazilian politicians do
Goodbye to the Brazilian protests. Now the political aftermath awaits
Brazilian protesters reexplained: it is about us, not the World Cup
Protests in Brazil and Turkey: not much in common. Try Chile instead
Unacceptable hatred for the press unites protesters and police in Brazil
The day the politics of no transformed Brazilian protests in riots
Brazilian political parties: the losers after first massive protests
Brazilian protests explained — it’s not the economy, stupid