Brazil’s Rousseff working to prevent a debacle in 2014

November 22, 2013

Brian Winter & Cesar Bianconi – Reuters, 11/22/2013

Seen from Brazil’s modernist, glass-walled presidential palace, 2014 looks like a minefield.

The economy, already sputtering, will probably slow even further. A downgrade of Brazil’s credit rating seems possible, if not likely. The World Cup of soccer, which Brazil will host in June and July, could end up revealing to billions of TV viewers the shoddy government planning and transportation bottlenecks that have frustrated investors here for years.

To top it all off, leftist President Dilma Rousseff is up for re-election in October – meaning if any of those things go horribly awry, she might lose her job.

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Brazil electoral court rejects new opposition party

October 4, 2013

Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 10/03/2013

In a decision that could boost President Dilma Rousseff’s chances of re-election next year, Brazil’s electoral court ruled on Thursday that her main potential rival failed to gather enough signatures to register her new party in time.

Environmentalist Marina Silva has until Saturday to decide whether to run on the ticket of an existing party to make her second bid for president next October.

The court ruled 6-1 against the creation of her party, called the Sustainability Network, because it fell short of the required 492,000 signatures. Silva blamed electoral notaries across Brazil for failing to validate 95,000 names on time.

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Snub on the US makes Rousseff the favorite again for re-election in Brazil

October 1, 2013

Mauricio Savarese – RT, 09/30/2013

One year to go until the Brazilian elections. It was supposed to be dull. But the June protests created havoc in the political scenario of Latin America’s powerhouse.

New players came onto the pitch and a shift in power became a bigger possibility. Now things seem to be going back to normal. That could mean a second term for center-left President Dilma Rousseff, and could prompt a thank you call from her to US President Barack Obama.

The key for her to be back on the driving seat is her snub on the United States, a poll suggests. Before the unrest during the Confederations Cup, Rousseff had a 79 percent approval rating. It plummeted to 40 percent in the beginning of September. Now it is at 54 percent. When asked about the main driving force behind Rousseff’s recent increase in popularity, 21 percent of Ibope poll respondents mentioned the rift with the Americans for their spying on Brazil.

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Almost out of time: an interview with Marina Silva

September 30, 2013

The Economist, 09/30/2013

MARINA SILVA was born into a family of rubber-tappers in Acre, a state in Brazil’s Amazon region. She survived hunger, severe illnesses and hard childhood labour to become one of the founders of the movement of environmentalists and activists for workers’ rights. In the 1970s and 1980s they organised the opposition to the big landowners who kept rubber-tappers in indentured servitude and cleared rainforest for large-scale ranching. Since being elected a senator for Acre in 1994 she has ploughed on in Brazilian politics, acting as environment minister under Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, before stepping down in protest at pressure to weaken environmental laws, and then leaving the president’s Workers Party (PT) altogether.

As the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2010 Ms Silva received 19.6m votes, putting her in third place. Recent opinion polls have found 16-22% support for her as a candidate in next year’s presidential elections, even though she is currently without a political party. That puts her second in the running behind the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff of the PT.

Since 2011 Ms Silva has been working to set up a new party, Rede Sustentabilidade (Sustainability Network). Brazil’s electoral laws require Rede to collect 492,000 signatures backing its formation and have them authenticated by notaries before it can be registered. Unless this is done by October 5th—exactly a year before the next elections—the party will not be eligible to field candidates, putting Ms Silva’s political future in doubt. Though it has managed to collect more than 900,000 signatures, only 450,000 had been authenticated by September 27th, when The Economist’s São Paulo bureau chief spoke to Ms Silva in her private office in Brasília about Rede’s programme for government—and its race against the clock. An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

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Brazil’s Rousseff sees popularity recover after protests

September 10, 2013

Reuters, 09/10/2013

President Dilma Rousseff’s approval rating rose almost 7 percentage points over the last month, as her popularity recovers from a battering by the massive street protests that shook Brazil in June, a poll published on Tuesday showed.

The number of Brazilians who approve of her government’s performance rose to 38.1 percent in August from 31.3 percent in July, according to the new poll commissioned by private transport sector lobby CNT and conducted by MDA Pesquisa.

Those who disapprove of the government’s performance dropped to 21.9 percent from 29.5 percent in July, the survey said.

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Brazilian opposition politician Marina Silva aims to have new party officially recognized

August 29, 2013

Associated Press – 08/26/2013

A Brazilian politician who opinion polls indicate could seriously challenge President Dilma Rousseff’s re-election bid next year initiated on Monday the process to have her party legally recognized.

Marina Silva and fellow members of her Sustainability Network party delivered a petition for the party’s legal recognition to Brazil’s Electoral Tribunal. Recognition of the party is required for her to run for the presidency next year under its banner.

Under Brazilian law, the court must receive 492,000 voter signatures validated by notaries. The party turned in more than 637,000 signatures but fewer than half of them have been validated. Notaries across the country are examining the others and are expected to send the court signatures as they are approved.

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Talk turns to a Lula comeback as Brazil’s president tumbles in polls

August 19, 2013

Juan Forero – The Washington Post, 08/19/2013

Living in a military dictatorship, a young Dilma Rousseff, seething against the inequities of Brazilian society and the authoritarian government, joined a Marxist guerrilla group with one central objective: to topple the state.

Forty years later, it’s President Rousseff who is being tested by rage: daily protests across hundreds of cities in June, followed by simmering discontent.

The anger over corruption and substandard services is directed at the entire political class, leading to sometimes-violent demonstrations against the governor in Rio de Janeiro and outbursts against politicians in other corners of the country. But on a national level it is Rousseff, 65, who has been most battered by unrest that her center-left government failed to see coming.

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Brazil government recovers some of its lost popularity

August 12, 2013

The Associated Press, 08/10/2013

Brazil’s Datafolha polling institute says President Dilma Rousseff’s government has recovered some of the popularity it lost in the wake of massive protests that swept the country in June.

Datafolha says 36 percent of respondents rated Rousseff’s government as “great/good” against the 30 percent who gave it that rating in its previous poll conducted in late June. The government’s approval rating had been 57 percent earlier in June.

The poll was published Saturday by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.

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Own goals: consolation for a weakened president

August 9, 2013

The Economist, 08/10/2013

UNTIL a couple of months ago polls suggested that Dilma Rousseff was one of the democratic world’s most popular leaders and was sailing towards a second term in a presidential election due next October. Then Brazil was suddenly engulfed by protests. They have died away—but Ms Rousseff’s popularity has suffered damage. Confidence in the presidency fell from 63% last year to just 42% in a poll published this month by Ibope.

The polls have a silver living for Ms Rousseff and her Workers’ Party (PT). Despite her problems, most of her opponents have failed to make much progress. The protests were in part a cry of anger against the whole political class. Support for Aécio Neves, the likely candidate of the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), the main opposition, has only nudged up, according to Datafolha, another pollster (see chart). Mr Neves had two successful terms as governor of Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second-most-populous state. But since moving to the Senate in 2011, he has made little impact on the national scene.

Mr Neves has recently been preoccupied with internal wrangling. Party chiefs are attempting to anoint him as their candidate. But he faces a challenge from José Serra, the losing PSDB candidate in 2002 and 2010. Aged 71, Mr Serra’s ambition is undimmed, despite his party’s reluctance to back him. He wants a primary, on pain of a reported threat to switch to another party, which would weaken Mr Neves.

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Marina Silva’s voter appeal is on the rise

August 5, 2013

The Economist, 08/05/2013

A July survey conducted by pollster, Ibope, found that Marina Silva, a former environment minister under Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-11) and a senator from the Partido Verde (PV) who polled 19.3% in the second round of the 2010 presidential election, would come second if the presidential election, scheduled for October 2014, were held today.

In the Ibope survey, Ms Silva garnered 22% of voter intentions as compared with 30% for the president, Dilma Rousseff, 13% for Aécio Neves, the likely candidate of the centrist Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB), and 5% for Eduardo Campos, the leader of the leftist Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB)and governor of Pernambuco state—whom a recent poll designated as the most popular state governor in Brazil. Moreover, if the elections went to a second round, Ms Silva would get 34% of the votes, versus 35% for Ms Rousseff. This is much higher than voter intentions for Mr Neves or Mr Campos (26% and 19%, respectively) and suggests that Ms Silva has benefited from her strong anti-establishment credentials in the aftermath of a protest movement that swept the country in June, as also confirmed by the fact that voter intentions in her favour increased by 10 percentage points between March and July.

Ms Silva has become a leading figure in Brazilian politics in her 30-year political career. But she has broken ranks with both the PT and the PV, and has yet to get her new party, the Rede Sustentabilidade, officially registered by the electoral court—for which her supporters have to validate 500,000 signatures by early October. With her programme mixing progressive environmentalism with moral conservatism, Ms Silva’s appeal appears to go beyond voters disgruntled with traditional politics, to include high-income voters attracted by her long-term commitment to sustainability.

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