Challenger Upends Brazilian Race for Presidency

September 16, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 09/15/2014

When Dilma Rousseff and Marina Silva were both cabinet ministers, they clashed on everything from building nuclear power plants to licensing huge dams in the Amazon.

Ms. Rousseff came out on top, emerging as the political heir to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and ultimately succeeding him as president. But she now finds herself locked in a heated race with Ms. Silva, an environmental icon who is jockeying for the lead in polling ahead of the Oct. 5 election as an insurgent candidate repudiating the power structure she helped assemble.

Ms. Silva’s upending of the presidential race is a symbol of the antiestablishment sentiment that has roiled Brazil, including anxiety over a sluggish economy and fatigue with political corruption. Her rising popularity also taps into shifts in society like the rising clout of evangelical Christian voters and a growing disquiet with policies that have raised incomes while doing little to improve the quality of life in Brazilian cities.

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The Silva surger

September 5, 2014

The Economist (print edition), 9/6/2014

Her rise has been extraordinary. In August Marina Silva was propelled from running-mate to the top of the centrist Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) ticket after the death in a plane crash of its leader, Eduardo Campos. Since then Ms Silva has taken support from both the left-wing incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, and Aécio Neves of the centre-right Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), once the presumptive challenger in presidential elections in October. In a run-off she would beat Ms Rousseff by seven percentage points, according to polls published on September 3rd.

Ms Silva’s appeal stems partly from her endless fortitude and her humble origins—she is the daughter of poor rubber-tappers from Acre, a state in Brazil’s Amazon region. Her ethereal silhouette—not short, just extremely thin—is explained by hunger and disease, including malaria and mercury poisoning, endured in childhood. She taught herself to read at 16, before going on to become a history teacher.

In the early 1980s, during the military dictatorship, she spearheaded Brazil’s green movement. Later she helped Ms Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to found the Workers’ Party (PT). She served as a senator and, from 2003 to 2008, as Lula’s environment minister, before quitting the government, and subsequently the PT, over the ungreen polices pursued by others in the cabinet.

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Exclusive: Volkswagen spied on Lula, other Brazilian workers in 1980s

September 5, 2014

Brian Winter – Reuters, 9/5/2014

Volkswagen AG spied on Brazilian union activists in the 1980s and passed sensitive information about wage demands and other private discussions to the country’s military dictatorship, according to newly uncovered documents seen by Reuters.

The company covertly monitored its own workers as well as prominent union leaders of the era. One of VW’s targets was Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who went on to become Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010 and remains one of its most influential politicians.

The documents were recently discovered in government archives by a special “truth commission” that, at the request of Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff, is investigating abuses that occurred during the 1964-1985 regime.

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Political Chameleon Marina Silva is all things to all people, which is why she is rising

September 3, 2014

That can surely be different in government if she wins — a scenario that is less and less unlikely. But so far presidential candidate Marina Silva has one important advantage over her competitors: she can make many Brazilians from opposite backgrounds believe that she actually represents their best interests and hopes. That is an asset she shares with hugely popular former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, unlike incumbent Dilma Rousseff and opposition’s Aécio Neves. The former Environment Minister’s victory depends on keeping that fresh air sensation for almost two months, despite having little time on TV. Although experts say she is likely to win, my experience covering politics for 10 years says this won’t be an easy ride.

If you are a liberal, Silva’s civil rights platform could be very forward thinking (if she got rid of some radical religious leaders). If you are a fiscal conservative, your eyes will twinkle with promises of an independent Central Bank and zero tolerance with inflation. If you believe social programs are essential, she is the living proof they are important. A hardcore evangelical faithful herself, she defends the State has to be lay.

Some will notice the 56-year-old is a walking contradiction, weak on debating specifics and even a risk since she doesn’t the have willingness to negotiate with politicians in Congress. But as of now the two things that seem to matter to a big chunk of the electorate is to beat the Worker’s Party (PT) after 12 years and to try someone new.

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Coordinator for Marina Silva Wants Former Presidents Lula da Silva and Fernando Henrique Cardoso as Allies

August 25, 2014

Mariana Carneiro – Folha de S. Paulo, 8/25/2014

On the morning of Friday, Aug. 22, economist Eduardo Giannetti da Fonseca was excited with the result of research done by the PSB and financial market institutions that suggested growth of electoral preferences of the party’s presidential candidate, former senator Marina Silva.

The research indicates that Silva, who Giannetti met on the 2010 campaign trail, has settled into second place in the presidential race this year and has the potential to defeat Dilma Rousseff (PT) in the second round.

The possibility of victory tends to feed speculations of the purpose of Giannetti, who describes himself as a person “without political ambitions,” in any future government. But he says he has no interest in being the next finance minister.

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Brazil’s presidential campaign

August 22, 2014

The Economist (print edition), 8/23/2014

IN HIS presidential bid Eduardo Campos, the former governor of Pernambuco, set out to break the mould of Brazilian politics, polarised between the ruling left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) of President Dilma Rousseff and the centre-right Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), the main opposition. By cruel irony, Mr Campos’s untimely death in a plane crash on August 13th may have improved the chances of a “third way” in October’s election.

A poll by Datafolha taken after the tragedy and published on August 18th gave Mr Campos’s running-mate, Marina Silva, more than double his most recent showing (see chart). On August 20th Campos’s centrist Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) duly blessed Ms Silva as his replacement, naming Beto Albuquerque, one of its congressmen, as her running mate.

Ms Silva is better known than Mr Campos was, thanks to her run at the presidency as a protest candidate in 2010, when she came third with nearly 20m votes. A daughter of poor rubber-tappers in the Amazon region, she is a founder of Brazil’s environmental movement as well as of the PT. She served as environment minister under Ms Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, until resigning in 2008 over ungreen development projects pursued by other ministries.

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