Brazilians likely to give government a ‘pass’ over World Cup

July 14, 2014

Larisa Epatko – PBS Newshour, 7/11/2014

The FIFA World Cup, which ends Sunday, has been a rollercoaster ride for Brazilians and no less so for the government.

When Brazil was playing well and advancing, President Dilma Rousseff rode the wave, visibly supporting the team and the tournament.

After Brazilian soccer star — known to fans simply by his first name Neymar — hurt his back during a match, taking him out of the rest of the tournament, Rousseff called him a “warrior” in a public letter of encouragement.

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The Political Hangover from Brazil’s World Cup Defeat

July 14, 2014

Antônio Sampaio – Foreign Policy, 7/12/2014

The World Cup isn’t over yet, but Brazil’s politicians are already facing fallout from the devastating defeat of the national team at the hands of Germany on July 8. That some Brazilian fans decided to react with violence comes, perhaps, as little surprise. The day after Brazil’s historic 7-1 loss to the Germans, rioters burned more than 20 buses in São Paulo, the country’s economic hub. In Belo Horizonte, the city that hosted the match, a gathering of thousands of people turned nasty when protesters set a Brazilian flag on fire and others threw rocks at the police.

The government has now decided to send reinforcements to security forces in both of those cities as well as to Rio de Janeiro, the site of the final match. All this comes in addition to thousands of soldiers already sent to the main host cities as a contingency measure at the start of the Cup. Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo has expressed particular concern about renewed activity by the anarchist Black Bloc movement, masked youths who have provoked numerous clashes with the police in recent months.

But the political repercussions from the defeat are likely to go farther than the actions of a few dozen football hooligans. After all, it was precisely Brazil’s plans to host the Cup (at a cost of some 11 billion dollars) that triggered an unprecedented wave of demonstrations, protests, and political activism a year ago — all of it underlining that futebol no longer occupies the same place in Brazilian hearts that it once did. Now the beautiful game is at the center of an agonized national rethink, a mass, middle-class movement against outdated infrastructure and failing services. And the crushing July 8 defeat is giving new momentum to the demands for reform.

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For Brazil, it’s not the end of the world

July 11, 2014

Simon Kuper – Financial Times, 7/11/2014

Despite Brazil’s 7-1 thrashing by Germany, the country could have had a much worse World Cup. Early in the tournament, I took the Rio metro to a match at the Maracanã stadium. I had never been in such a packed carriage. For minutes it was hard to breathe. When we got to the stadium, everyone tumbled out alive. It could have been different.

Then there was the stairway at the Maracanã, which began wobbling when hundreds of Argentine and Bosnian fans walked up it. It held, and was later reinforced. An overpass in Belo Horizonte built for the tournament did collapse, killing two people. Still, things could have been much worse.

With some luck, Brazil pulled off the World Cup – the organisation, at least. Now comes the question: what’s the legacy? The tournament won’t make Brazilians richer, and yet it has changed the country.

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The political tide turns

May 27, 2014

The Economist, 5/24/2014

BRAZIL likes to think of itself as o país do futebol—the football country. So it is extraordinary that just three weeks before the World Cup kicks off in São Paulo, a recent poll found less than half of Brazilians saying they were happy to host it. True, this may change once the tournament gets going, especially if fears of transport chaos prove misplaced. Yet that poll result betrays not just public anger at the inflated cost of the tournament, but also wider grumpiness.

Although the cup will doubtless see a few protests—some have already begun—the public mood will be tested more clearly in the presidential election on October 5th. Many pundits, especially outsiders, take it for granted that Dilma Rousseff, the president, will win a second term. That is what the polls have long suggested.

Although the cup will doubtless see a few protests—some have already begun—the public mood will be tested more clearly in the presidential election on October 5th. Many pundits, especially outsiders, take it for granted that Dilma Rousseff, the president, will win a second term. That is what the polls have long suggested.

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Return of Lula as Brazil’s president unlikely, but possible

May 2, 2014

Brian Winter & Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 5/1/2014

It’s the catch phrase of the moment in Brazil’s capital, seen on posters and even a few bumper stickers: “Come back, Lula.”

As President Dilma Rousseff sags in polls ahead of this October’s election, there are growing calls for her popular predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to take her place as the Workers’ Party candidate.

Lula, who presided over an economic boom as president from 2003 to 2010, remains Brazil’s most popular politician by far. His legendary schmoozing ability and pragmatic policies are a source of nostalgia among many investors and others frustrated with Rousseff’s more hermetic personal style and heavy hand in the economy, which has sputtered on her watch.

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Dilma sees a 46% percent reduction in support by state governors

April 23, 2014

Paulo Celso Pereira – O Globo, 4/23/2014

At two months and a half from the electoral campaigns, the main candidates for the presidency are in the final stages of assembling their support among Brazilian states. Today, 24 of the 27 governors have already publicly stated who they will support.  In comparing the current scenario with 2010, President Dilma Rousseff has clearly lost space among the local executive leaders. Four years ago, Dilma had the support of 19 of the 27 governors, representing 75.3 million voters. This year, so far, the president has only secured the support of 13 governors, who rule over 55.7 million voters – a reduction of 46% percent – representing a decreased influence over approximately 20 million voters.

Read full article in Portuguese here. 

PSDB will launch the presidential campaign of Aécio Neves on June 14, in SP

April 23, 2014

Erich Decat – O Estado de S. Paulo, 4/22/2014

During a National Executive meeting of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSBD), members of the party’s leadership set June 14th as the date for the official launching of the presidential campaign of Senator Aécio Neves (MG). The event will take place in São Paulo, the largest constituency in the country, governed for over twenty years by the Social Democratic Party.

Read full article in Portuguese here.

Brazil’s Campos targets taxes, Petrobras to boost economy

April 17, 2014

Brian Winter & Jeferson Ribeiro – Reuters, 4/17/2014

Eduardo Campos, the centrist former state governor running third in Brazil‘s presidential race, plans to lower the tax burden and set a formula to automatically raise fuel prices at state-run oil company Petrobras if he wins the October election.

In a wide-ranging interview, Campos defended those and other reforms championed by Brazil’s business community, which has largely soured on left-leaning President Dilma Rousseff after three-plus years of slow economic growth.

Recent polls show Rousseff with a clear lead as she seeks a second term. She has around 40 percent support thanks to strong backing from poorer Brazilians who are happy with government welfare programs and unemployment still at record lows.

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Brazil socialist kicks off presidential campaign

April 15, 2014

Paulo Trevisani – The Wall Street Journal, 4/14/2014

Socialist politician Eduardo Campos on Monday kicked off his outsider tilt at becoming Brazil’s next president, the first salvo in a campaign that will likely focus on the economy as a potential weakness for incumbent President Dilma Rousseff.

Mr. Campos, who recently stepped down as governor of Pernambuco state in northeastern Brazil, confirmed he will head the ticket for the Brazilian Socialist Party, or PSB, while former environment minister Marina Silva will be his vice presidential running mate.

“Brazil needs to discuss the economy. We can’t grow at just 1%. We still have too much inequality,” Mr. Campos told a crowd of around 700 supporters at a hotel in the capital of this nation of 200 million people.

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