Brazilian poll shows Rousseff gaining momentum as election nears

October 20, 2014

Walter Brandimarte – Reuters, 10/20/2014

President Dilma Rousseff gained steam but remained locked in a dead heat for votes with challenger Aecio Neves ahead of Brazil’s Oct. 26 presidential runoff, an opinion poll showed on Monday.

Rousseff had 45.5 percent of voter support versus 44.5 percent for Neves, according to the survey by polling firm MDA, its first since the election’s first-round vote on Oct. 5. The difference between the two is statistically insignificant because it is within the poll’s margin of error.

Excluding undecided voters, spoiled and blank survey responses, Rousseff has 50.5 percent against 49.5 percent for Rousseff.

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Conservatives Gaining Force in Brazil Congress

October 20, 2014

AP – ABC News, 10/18/2014

With its Carnival reputation and skin-baring beach life, Brazil may look like a liberal bastion. But unease over a worsening economy and deteriorating public safety, plus a backlash against recent gay-rights gains, are propelling a conservative rise that will shape the next administration, regardless of who wins the presidency.

The general election held earlier this month saw a greater share of Brazil’s National Congress seats go to various conservative caucuses, which now control nearly 60 percent of the 513 seats in the lower house. They include evangelical lawmakers who oppose gay marriage or access to abortion; the “ruralistas” whose pro-agriculture positions counter environmentalists and indigenous groups; and a law-and-order faction that demands a crackdown on crime.

Ahead of the presidential runoff Oct. 26, there’s no doubt such conservatives are giving greater support to center-right challenger Aecio Neves over left-leaning President Dilma Rousseff. But it’s also clear that neither presidential candidate is as socially conservative as the increasingly powerful elements of Congress.

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Brazil Ex-Candidate Silva Defends Her Campaign

October 16, 2014

John Lyons and Luciana Magalhaes – The Wall Street Journal, 10/15/2014

Former candidate Marina Silva defended her decision not to retaliate against a barrage of attack advertisements that many observers say snuffed out her chance to become president and enact a platform of political and environmental reforms.

“I would never fight with the same weapons, because once you do, you become exactly what you are fighting against,” said Ms. Silva, in her first major interview since placing third in Brazil’s Oct. 5 election, and exiting the race. What “we have today is a country where everything we’ve gained is under threat because of the degradation of politics and political institutions, because of corruption, because of the lack of credibility, because of the logic that ‘anything goes’ to take power.”

Ms. Silva cut an extraordinary figure on the Brazilian political stage when she burst into one of Brazil’s tightest election races since the country returned to democracy in 1985. She was a late entrant in August, replacing the Socialist Party candidate Eduardo Campos after he died in a plane crash. At one point, polls showed her defeating incumbent President Dilma Rousseff by as much as 10 points.

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Petrobras scandal adds fuel to Brazil’s fiery election campaign

October 16, 2014

Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 10/15/2014

Common wisdom has it that Brazilians have become so desensitised to political scandals – so frequent are they on all sides of the political spectrum – that they make little difference in elections.

But there are signs that what could end up being Brazil’s biggest corruption case – the alleged kickbacks from state-owned oil company Petrobras – could be different. Politicians from the Workers’ party-led ruling coalition are accused of skimming 3 per cent off billions of dollars of contracts signed by Petrobras ahead of the election of incumbent president Dilma Rousseff in 2010.

Not only are Brazilians taking more notice of this scandal – one Facebook user complained last week it meant he was paying 3 cents of every dollar to the Workers’ party, or PT, whenever he fills his car with petrol. “Better to ride a bicycle,” he said.

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Brazil’s Presidential Candidates in Dead Heat

October 16, 2014

TeleSUR, 10/16/2014

Latest poll released by Ibope and Datafolha show Dilma Rousseff and Aecio Neves in a technical tie, ahead of the second round of elections to be held on October 26.

Two polls released on Wednesday by polling companies Ibope and Datafolha show that candidates Dilma Rousseff and Aecio Neves are in a statistical dead heat ahead of the second round of presidential elections to be held on October 26.

The polls give Neves a slight lead over Rousseff, by 45 percent against 43 percent. But the margin of error in the polls makes it a tie. With the race looking very tight, Rousseff’s campaign has been focusing on the poor record of previous governments under Neves’ Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB).

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Why Brazil needs change: Voters should ditch Dilma Rousseff and elect Aécio Neves

October 16, 2014

The Economist Print Edition, 10/16/2014

In 2010, when Brazilians elected Dilma Rousseff as president, their country seemed at last to be living up to its huge potential. The economy expanded by 7.5% that year, setting the seal on eight years of faster growth and a steep fall in poverty under Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Ms Rousseff’s political mentor and the leader of the centre-left Workers’ Party (PT). But four years later that promise has disappeared. Under Ms Rousseff the economy has stalled and social progress has slowed. Sanctions-hit Russia aside, Brazil is by far the weakest performer in the BRIC club of big emerging economies. In June 2013 over a million Brazilians took to the streets to protest against poor public services and political corruption.

Ever since the protests the polls have shown that two-thirds of respondents want the next president to be different. So one might have expected them to turf out Ms Rousseff in the first round of the country’s presidential election on October 5th. In the event she secured 41.6% of the vote and remains the narrow favourite to win the run-off ballot on October 26th. That is mainly because most Brazilians have not yet felt the economic chill in their daily lives—though they soon will. And it is partly because her opponent, Aécio Neves of the centre-right Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), who won 33.6%, has struggled to persuade poorer Brazilians that the reforms he espouses—which the country urgently needs—will benefit rather than harm them. If Brazil is to avoid another four years of drift, it is vital that he succeeds in doing so.

Mr Neves’s task has been made harder by a campaign scarred by tragedy and upended by fate, as dramatic as a Brazilian telenovela. Two months ago the third-placed candidate, Eduardo Campos, died in a plane crash on his way to a rally. His former running-mate and replacement, Marina Silva, surged into the lead in the polls. An environmentalist, Ms Silva is the darling of the protesters, the symbol of a “new politics”. But attractive though her lack of a political machine might have seemed, it was a liability. Faced with sometimes underhand attacks from Ms Rousseff, Ms Silva wobbled. It did not help that she is an evangelical Protestant in what is still a largely Catholic country. In the end her 21% share of the vote was scarcely bigger than she managed in 2010. Rather than a “new politics”, the run-off will repeat the battle between the PT and the PSDB that has defined all Brazil’s presidential elections since 1994.

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In Brazil, old parties and debates dominate presidential runoff vote

October 16, 2014

Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 10/16/2014

With Brazil’s presidential runoff election less than two weeks away, a volatile race that recently promised to deliver “new politics” has fallen back upon the parties and debates that have dominated Latin America’s largest country for 20 years.

Social Democrat Aecio Neves and President Dilma Rousseff of the governing Workers’ Party focused as often on the legacies of their predecessors — Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who won elections in 1994 and 1998, and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who triumphed in 2002, respectively — as they did on their plans for the country during their first head-to-head debate Tuesday night.

“You had 11,400,000 people unemployed” in 2002, Rousseff said, referring to the last year of Cardoso’s presidency, before the expansion of the Workers’ Party’s flagship Bolsa Familia social program for the poor.

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