Obligatory voting, socialism and corruption: Brazilians tell us what they think about Rouseff’s re-election

October 30, 2014

The Guardian, 10/29/2014

A woman, being re-elected in a traditionally sexist Latin country as ours, first of all means that we can learn to be a little less prejudiced. Secondly, but no less important, it means that Brazil has decided to be more inclusive. The last 12 years have seen huge advancements for the country: we have left UN’s hunger map and have brought nearly 50 million people into the middle classes. This is the real impact of a leftist government – underprivileged people can now plan to go to university (public universities in Brazil are 100% free and the Labour government has built almost 200 of them). There are more schools and hospitals spread around the country than ever before.

Today, around 56 million people claim benefits and some 12 millions have given them up in the past years because they felt they no longer needed this government support. This means that many people in low paid jobs were able to go back to school, better themselves, make plans for the future – which of course makes all the difference! People who used to live from hand to mouth can now plan to buy a house through government programmes, can get a decent education and move up in life.

We cannot deny that there’s been corruption, there’s been embezzlement and white collar crimes. But to believe that the right-wing candidate was going to be the one to end it is childish and naive! He himself is involved in many corruption scandals and it’s hard to see why he’d do anything about it! Corruption is part of the political game and only a reform in the system would make it possible to end it – and this has never been in the right-wing agenda, but Dilma has already said she plans to have a referendum to know what people want on that matter.

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Brazil shocks with interest rate hike in wake of election

October 30, 2014

Alonso Soto – Reuters, 10/29/2014

Brazil’s central bank raised interest rates on Wednesday, surprising investors with a bold move that signals President Dilma Rousseff could make more market-friendly policy changes after her narrow re-election victory on Sunday.

In a divided vote, the central bank’s board decided to raise its benchmark Selic rate by 25 basis points to 11.25 percent. All 43 economists surveyed in a Reuters poll this week expected the bank to keep the Selic at 11 percent.

With the hotly contested presidential race over, the central bank moved swiftly to anchor inflation expectations at a time when markets are wondering if Rousseff is willing to overhaul her policies to regain the trust of investors.

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Brazil’s Exhausting Election

October 30, 2014

Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 10/30/2014

It was a typical election in Brazil. Jesus and Osama bin Laden were running for Congress, as well as Barack Obama, Bob Marley, Santa Claus and Battman (with two Ts). The self-styled “Hamburger Face” unfortunately wasn’t elected, nor was a candidate just called Congresswoman. (When the results were released, it turned out she didn’t get a single vote — not even her own.) But a famous clown named Tiririca won a second term in the House, after starring in a kitschy TV campaign. Next year, 35 percent of our members of Congress will be millionaires.

In São Paulo, which is proving to be more conservative than most of Brazil, the number of legislators in the so-called Bullet Caucus will increase by 30 percent. They are usually former military police officers, with a right-wing posture and a belligerent discourse; they stand for lowering the age at which teenagers can be tried as adults (currently 18); for increasing police repression; and against gun control. Their mottos are: “the only good thief is a dead thief” and “human rights are for right humans.”

The second-most-voted-for congressman in my state was an evangelical Christian ex-cop who recently produced his own comic book. In 32 pages, he describes “two brand-new police cases.” In one, an angel supposedly helped him during a chase so he could catch two fugitives. (In real life, however, three suspects were killed by the police.) After the elections, he urged independence for the wealthiest states from the poorest ones that “preferred charity over work.”

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Dilma Rousseff has a second chance to invigorate Brazil’s foreign policy

October 30, 2014

Bianca Suyama and Gonzalo Berrón – The Guardian, 10/30/2014

After an election campaign that was more unpredictable and nerve-wracking than Brazil’s popular soap operas, President Dilma Rousseff will lead the country for another four years.

Brazil’s government has defined its foreign policy as “active and prominent”. This is a legacy of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who wanted to lead Brazil towards greater autonomy and relevance in the global order. He wanted Brazil to contribute to a more democratic and multipolar world; diversify its partnerships – with particular focus on countries in the global south and the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa); and promote South American integration.

However, these initiatives were not without their tensions and contradictions. Rousseff appeared to give less priority to foreign policy and some of the achievements of Lula’s administration stagnated under her. What should she focus on now the election is out of the way?

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Another emerging markets crisis looms as Brazil opts for the politics of stagnation

October 29, 2014

Jeremy Warner – The Telegraph, 10/28/2014

The definition of an emerging market, it was sometimes said – in the days before Goldman Sachs led the stampede of Western money into the developing world – is one from which it is impossible to emerge in a crisis. Investors will know the feeling as they survey the damage to their wealth inflicted by the re-election of the centre left Dilma Rousseff as president of Brazil this week.

In dismay, the Brazilian Ibovespa was down a stomach churning 6.2pc and the Real, in precipitous decline for some years now, fell another 3pc. Investors had hoped for a return to the “Plano Real” and the pro-business agenda of Fernando Henrique Cardoso in the mid-90s to early noughties; instead it’s at least another four years of Workers Party interventionism they have to look forward to.

Brazil is not yet in fully-blown crisis mode, of the type which Latin America seems perennially prone to, but it is self-evidently already on a very slippery slope. Growth has slowed to a virtual standstill, inflation is again climbing towards double digits, and investment has slumped.

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Rousseff says Brazil will recover, avoid credit downgrade

October 29, 2014

Walter Brandimarte – Reuters, 10/28/2014

Newly re-elected President Dilma Rousseff said on Tuesday that the Brazilian economy will recover in her second term and avoid a downgrade of its credit rating.

In television interviews two days after narrowly defeating market darling Aecio Neves, Rousseff repeated her offer to sit down with business leaders to hear their views on the state of the economy and discuss changes in policy.

Earlier on Tuesday, a senior analyst at Moody’s Investors Service said the ratings agency was in no rush to decide whether to cut Brazil’s rating but could act quickly if it determines that Rousseff is not making significant changes in her second term.

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Can Brazil’s Socialist Iron Lady Defy The Markets?

October 29, 2014

John Cassidy – The New Yorker, 10/28/2014

I know, I know, there’s a lot going on: Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie are busy making jackasses of themselves; the midterms are next week; Rex Ryan’s Jets are imploding. I wouldn’t blame you if you overlooked the news that Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s socialist “Iron Lady,” was reëlected as the President of the world’s fifth most populous country. From what I saw, the broadcast networks barely covered it. Monday’s Times relegated the story to an inside page.

No surprise there, you might say. It’s nearly five thousand miles from New York to São Paulo, and Americans got their fill of Brazil during the World Cup. Who cares that Rousseff came from behind in the polls to defeat her opponent, Aécio Neves? Does it really matter to people outside Brazil?

It does, for at least two reasons. First, Rousseff’s victory has significant implications for the world’s financial markets. And, second, it extends Brazil’s decade-long effort to reduce poverty and inequality, which, despite great skepticism among the country’s business community (and free-market economists), has gone some ways towards spreading the wealth in what has long been one of the world’s most inegalitarian countries.

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