Marina’s rise, not unforeseen, changed the outlook of Brazil’s October presidential elections

September 2, 2014

Paulo Sotero, 09/02/2014

Dilma_Rousseff

With one month left in Brazil’s presidential and general election campaign, environmental leader Marina Silva emerged as the opposition’s strongest challenger to President Dilma Rousseff and to the continuation of the twelve-year rule of the Workers’ Party. A Datafolha poll released Saturday, August 30, showed Silva, known as Marina, tied with Rousseff in the first round of votes on October 5th and ten points ahead in the runoff scheduled for October 26th.

The phenomenal rise of the former senator and Environmental Minister from a frustrated politician without party affiliation as of late last year to a leading candidate started, unpredictably, with the tragic death of presidential candidate Eduardo Campos. Campos, a popular former governor whom Marina joined after a failed attempt to create her own political party, died in an airplane crash on August 13th.

The potential success of Marina’s political career was not, however, unforeseen. She received an impressive 20% of votes in 2010, when she first ran for president as candidate of the small Green Party, after leaving the Workers’ Party. More recently, political analysts viewed Marina as the principal political beneficiary of massive street protests that erupted in June 2013 in dozens of Brazilian cities, to the surprise of the government, the opposition and the media.

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Why recession won’t affect the result of Brazil’s presidential election

September 2, 2014

J.P. – The Economist, 09/01/2014

Recession is never good news for an administration. And in the run-up to a general election it can be a death knell. With five weeks to go before polling day, Brazil’s opposition must therefore have quietly rejoiced at official data released on August 29th, showing that GDP had dipped by 0.6% in the second quarter and by 0.2% in the first. Yet the dismal figures may not matter as much to electoral calculus as President Dilma Rousseff’s rivals would have hoped. Why is that?

Ms Rousseff blames the contraction on weak global recovery from the 2009 financial crisis, as well as a “surfeit of public holidays” (and thus fewer working days) during the month-long football World Cup in Brazil, which concluded on July 13th. These extra holidays were added by the authorities in a bid to ease pressure on public transport in World Cup host cities. But critics point out that this does not explain the fall in output during the first three months of the year—and the government had previously promised a Copa-related economic bonanza. Of the 45 countries which have reported second-quarter GDP so far, only war-torn Ukraine has fared worse.

Instead, Ms Rouseff’s critics blame the slowdown on flagging business confidence and falling investment as a result of her interventionism, fiscal laxity and failure to address chronic problems: the shoddy infrastructure, tangles of red tape and arguably the world’s most convoluted tax system.

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Brazil’s Silva looks presidential, but not a shoo-in

September 2, 2014

Brian Winter – Reuters, 09/01/2014

Popular environmentalist Marina Silva looks capable of winning Brazil’s presidential election in October but a major campaign gaffe and mounting attacks from other candidates and the media suggest the race is still wide open.

Polls have shown Silva with a lead of about 10 percentage points over President Dilma Rousseff if the Oct. 5 election goes to a runoff, as seems likely. Silva’s meteoric rise has led Brazilian stocks to rally 10 percent in the last three weeks on hopes she would be more business-friendly than Rousseff and help stir a stagnant economy.

In the last week, Silva has successfully begun to address some of the doubts voters have about her – namely, whether she has the personal gravitas and organizational support to govern this continent-sized nation of 200 million people.

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Will Brazil elect Marina Silva as the world’s first Green president?

September 2, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 08/30/2014

It started with the national anthem and ended with a rap. In between came a poignant minute’s silence, politicised football chants and a call to action by the woman tipped to become the first Green national leader on the planet.

The unveiling in São Paulo of Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva’s platform for government on Friday was a sometimes bizarre mix of tradition and modernity, conservatism and radicalism, doubt and hope: but for many of those present, it highlighted the very real prospect of an environmentalist taking the reins of a major country.

In a dramatic election that has at times seemed scripted by a telenovelawriter, Silva has tripled her coalition’s poll ratings in the two weeks since she took over from her predecessor and running mate, Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash. Following a strong performance in the first TV debate between candidates, polls suggest she will come second in the first-round vote on 5 October and then beat the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, in the runoff three weeks later.

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Rival Brazil Candidates Train Fire on Silva After Poll Rise

September 2, 2014

Raymond Colitt and Anna Edgerton – Bloomberg, 09/01/2014

Marina Silva’s rise to the top of opinion polls in Brazil’s presidential race has forced her rivals to step up criticism of her proposals on such subjects as energy, gay rights and economic policy.

President Dilma Rousseff, whose lead over Silva vanished in less than two weeks, said in a televised debate today the former environment minister hasn’t said how she would finance increased spending on public services. Senator Aecio Neves, who trails third in polls, mocked Silva’s change in posture on economic policy, saying her proposals were contradictory.

With discourse that taps into widespread discontent and positions that are friendly to business and investors, Silva has become the focal point of the campaign since she entered the race Aug. 20. Having presented her government platform on Aug. 29, she is now subject to scrutiny by media and rivals who will test her resilience in polls, said David Fleischer, a University of Brasilia professor who follows Brazilian politics.

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Recession puts brake on Brazil’s once-booming car industry

September 2, 2014

Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 08/31/2014

Workers in Brazil’s automotive industry have become accustomed to seeing their sector break new records, with Latin America’s biggest country becoming the fourth largest car producer in the world over the past decade.

But last week, 930 employees at General Motors’ plant in São José dos Campos near São Paulo were forced to accept a five-month “lay-off” or suspension to avoid outright dismissals.

The country’s weak economy, which was revealed on Friday to have slipped into a technical recession in the second quarter, is undermining the industry, leading it to report its first annual fall in car sales in a decade last year – a trend that has continued into 2014.

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Brazil Government Primary Deficit Moves Farther From Target

August 29, 2014

Paulo Trevisani – The Wall Street Journal, 8/29/2014

The Brazilian government moved further away from its annual fiscal target with a primary deficit in July, according to data released by the central bank Friday.

The total government, including central, state and municipal levels, recorded a primary deficit of 4.7 billion reis ($2.1 billion) in July. In June, the result was negative as well, at 2.1 billion reis.

With July’s results, this year’s accumulated primary result is a surplus of 24.7 billion reis, comparing with a 99 billion reis annual target.

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