What Factors Will Decide Brazil’s Presidential Race?

August 5, 2014

Inter-American Dialogue – Latin America Advisor, 8/1/2014

Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva

Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva

Q: Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is maintaining a lead over main opposition candidate Aecio Neves ahead of the country’s October elections and would beat him in a potential second round, according to a recent poll by Ibope. However, other recent polls have shown the two candidates neck-and-neck in a runoff. With just over two months to go before the election, what factors will have the largest influence on the vote’s outcome? With Brazilians also voting for national and state legislatures and state governors, what are the other key races to watch?

A: Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva, global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: “At this point of the presidential campaign in Brazil, it seems that the odds in favor of Dilma Rousseff’s re-election are better in the election’s first round than in the runoff if it becomes necessary. President Rousseff has a relatively comfortable advantage over the two main opposition candidates in public opinion polls in the first round. But in the runoff simulations, she appears in a virtual tie with Aecio Neves and with a larger but not huge majority over Eduardo Campos. This is probably because the runoff will appear as a kind of referendum on her government. Her chances to be re-elected in the first round will increase if the present inclination of around one-fourth of all voters (according to the most recent polls) to nullify their votes or to vote blank remains. If this happens, with more than a dozen candidates on the ballot, Rousseff may get more than 50 percent of the valid votes and avoid a runoff. The record amount of voters who say they do not want to vote for anyone reflects a growing frustration among Brazilians with the country’s political system. The immense majority of poll respondents say they want change. But most do not seem happy with what the candidates have offered them as possible change. The same polls show that health and public security are the main concerns of the population. But the dissatisfaction is also huge with public transportation, education and other social public services. To these problems, in recent months have been added serious doubts regarding the economy, chiefly about inflation and unemployment. All these will be the main issues in the campaign.

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The Outlook of Brazil’s October Elections by the Country’s Leading Pollster

August 4, 2014

main-image-datafolha

During the Brazil Institute’s event on July 29, 2014, Mauro Paulino and Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva provided their insight on the upcoming Presidential elections in Brazil. Paulino, through his work with the prominent Brazil-based research institute, Datafolha, revealed past as well as present statistics and predictions to shed light on the development of voter intention in the upcoming October elections.

The general electorate in Brazil is younger and more educated than it was in the past, leading to a higher distrust in political parties. The speakers note that because of this, the current candidates would do well in distancing themselves from the government and its reputation for corruption by offering a new and separate alternative, but it is unknown as to whether or not this will come to fruition.

Paulino points out a Brazilian anomaly in that although television time is generally thought to enhance candidates’ chances of getting elected, this notion is statistically not true in Brazil. This-coming election also holds the largest percentage of people who are currently unsure for whom they would vote or who would not select any of the candidates by submitting a blank vote. Read the rest of this entry »


Brazil has a capacity to do the unexpected

August 1, 2014

Brazil Institute Director Paulo Sotero will be taking part in the prestigious Chautauqua Institution’s lecture series this week, entitled, “Brazil: Rising Superpower.”

Following is the piece he authored on Brazil in a global context which will be the basis of his lecture on Friday, August 1.

Paulo Sotero – The Chautauquan Daily, 7/31/2014

Not a country for beginners, as composer Antônio Carlos Jobim famously said, Brazil often does what is least expected. It did the unexpected in the World Cup — twice. First, by losing the soccer tournament it was overwhelmingly favored to win at home, and secondly hosting an excellent event, free of the logistical nightmares that were predicted by some and feared by most. It could do it again in the October presidential contest and frustrate the re-election plans of President Dilma Rousseff, who until recently was seen as heavily favored to renew her mandate for four more years.

Here is another surprise: The embarrassing World Cup performance of Brazil’s beloved Seleção and Rousseff’s electoral troubles are unrelated. A Datafolha opinion poll released last week showed that the sour national mood detected by a Pew Research Center survey before the event returned as soon as the games ended. With the economy stagnating and Brazilians increasingly worried about rising inflation and other adverse economic news, 54 percent now say the World Cup brought more costs than benefits to the country, down 8 points since July 1 despite the overall perception that the tournament was a success. Read the rest of this entry »


“You have the right to your own opinions, not your own facts.”

June 30, 2014

Patrícia Campos Mello – Folha de S. Paulo, 6/27/2014

“You have the right to your own opinions, but you don’t have the right to your own facts.”  This phrase, from the great American Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), sums up well the state of things in the Brazilian press, mainly in the blogosphere.

On Thursday, during a debate with the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in which I participated via Skype, one of those present asked the following question: As the Brazilian media is each time more polarized and partisan, does this demonstrate a maturation of the Brazilian press?

In my opinion, no.  This instead shows that we are nearing the United States’ practice of polarization in the media – and this is bad news. Read the rest of this entry »


Brazil in 2014: Will Rousseff change course?

January 7, 2014

Paulo Soter0 – CNN, 12/30/2013

Editor’s note: Paulo Sotero is director of the Wilson Center Brazil Institute. The views expressed are his own. This is the latest in the ‘14 in 2014‘ series, looking at what the year ahead holds for key countries.

Three consecutive years of disappointing economic performance, with an average GDP growth of barely 2 percent and deteriorating fiscal and external accounts, should be enough to convince President Dilma Rousseff to move Brazil away from the inward policies and micromanaging style she introduced after succeeding her popular mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in January 2011. The same mindset has affected Brazil’s international affairs, with similar results.

A leader with little appetite or patience for diplomacy and focused by necessity on domestic challenges, Rousseff implemented a modest foreign policy agenda when compared to her predecessor and became the first Brazilian president to fire a foreign minister, over a preventable incident. There are both negative and positive incentives for Rousseff to change course as she faces reelection in October 2014.

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“Protests, bombs, and enthusiasm: the Pope visits Brazil,” featuring Paulo Sotero

July 24, 2013

Forum with Michael Krasny – NPR, 07/24/2013

Director of the Brazil Institute, Paulo Sotero, shared his take on the Pope’s visit to Brazil amidst civil unrest on Forum (NPR), with Michael Krasny.  Guest speakers, including Juanita Darling, assistant professor of international relations at San Francisco State University, Juliana Barbassa, Associated Press reporter, and Philip Pullella, Vatican correspondent for Reuters, discussed the current economic, political, and social landscape of Brazil.

Paulo Sotero is the Director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Click here for audio.


The Brazil Institute mourns the passing of journalist Ruy Mesquita

May 22, 2013

The Brazil Institute, 05/22/2013

Ruy Mesquita, publisher of the influential  daily O Estado de S.Paulo, died Tuesday at 88.  A grandson and son of journalists who helped shape the institutions of the Brazilian republic, from the 1950s Mesquita lived intensely by his country’s struggles to develop as a stable democracy and emerge in the global scene. “He was key in the resistance against the military regime,” said former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a friend, alluding  to the dictatorship installed in 1964 in Brazil with his newspaper initial support, in the height of the Cold War.

The break with the military came in 1967, after the rulers in Brasilia betrayed their promise to hold elections and pushed the country to a state of emergency to cover up violations of human rights and press freedom. A lawyer with deep liberal convictions, Ruy Mesquita and his older brother, Julio Mesquita Neto, led the fight against censorship, making sure readers would know when editorials and articles were cut by replacing them with verses of Lusíadas, the epic of Portuguese language. An anticommunist, like his father Julio Mesquita Filho, he did not hesitate to hire and protect journalists affiliated with the Communist Party and other leftist organizations. In 1978, Ruy Mesquita conducted a historic interview with union leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva which was instrumental in opening the dialogue between the future president and the conservative elites of São Paulo.

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