Brazil’s presidential election: The battle for Brazil

September 26, 2014

The Economist (print edition), 9/27/2014

To describe the final weeks of Brazil’s presidential campaign as dramatic would be putting it mildly. There was tragedy, when Eduardo Campos, leader and candidate of the centrist Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), perished in an aeroplane crash in mid-August. There were tears: Marina Silva, Mr Campos’s running-mate-turned-candidate, broke down after being criticised by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in whose cabinet she had once served as environment minister but whose protégée and successor, Dilma Rousseff, is seeking a second term. This being Brazil, there was also scandal, as a former executive at Petrobras, the statecontrolled oil firm, alleged that politicians from Ms Rousseff’s left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) and some coalition allies were involved in a kickback scheme there.

The twists and turns have led to lots of head-scratching among pollsters and pundits. With days to go before the first round of voting on October 5th, firm predictions are scarce. Mauro Paulino, boss of Datafolha, a big polling company, says the way the campaign as a whole has unfurled is “incomparable”. And not just with any prior Brazilian election, but with anything that has happened anywhere in the world, at least in living memory, according to José Toledo of Estadão Dados, a data website.

The prediction that commands most confidence is that Ms Rousseff will not secure an outright majority in the first round and that the election will go to a run-off on October 26th. There she will almost certainly face Ms Silva, who in the weeks following Mr Campos’s death has surged past Aécio Neves, the candidate of the centre-right Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB). The latest second-round simulations show Ms Rousseff and Ms Silva running neck and neck.

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Brazil’s Presidential Race Grows Closer

September 10, 2014

Paulo Trevisani – The Wall Street Journal, 9/9/2014

Brazil’s presidential race is growing tighter, a new poll showed Tuesday, as a corruption scandal and slowing economic growth affect the campaign.

Brazilian Socialist Party candidate Marina Silva’s lead over President Dilma Rousseff shrank to a technical tie less than a month before the vote, according to a survey by the MDA polling company for Brazil’s National Confederation of Transport, or CNT.

According to the poll, Ms. Rousseff, of the Workers’ Party, would get 38.1% of the vote in the first round on Oct. 5, compared with 33.5% for Ms. Silva and 14.7% for Aécio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party.

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Brazil Finance Minister Seen Stepping Down

September 8, 2014

Paulo Trevisani – The Wall Street Journal, 9/5/2014

No matter who wins Brazil’s October elections, one thing has become clear: the man who oversaw an economic boom turned bust is likely to depart.

Guido Mantega’s eight-year stretch as Brazilian finance minister is seen ending whether frontrunner Marina Silva, the Socialist candidate, beats President Dilma Rousseff, or not.

Ms. Rousseff, in response to polls showing she would lose a potential second-round runoff to Ms. Silva, said this week that if she was re-elected, she would assemble a new team. Her comments were widely seen as a confirmation that Mr. Mantega, one of the longest-serving finance ministers ever, is on his way out.

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Brazil: No Government Member Accused in Corruption Case

September 8, 2014

TeleSUR, 9/7/2014

The Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff (Workers’ Party – PT, center-left) denied on Sunday that there was any concrete evidence that could involve any members of her government in the corruption case freshly uncovered by the national press.

“I think that [the denunciation] does not involve the government, as no one in the government has been accused of anything,” said Rousseff in a press conference held in the presidential palace of the Alvorada, after a meeting with Brazilian youth.

The national press relayed on Friday and Saturday the alleged declarations of a former director of the national oil company Petrobras, Paulo Roberto Costa, to the police. In the declarations he would have accused dozens of politicians of corruption.

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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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Insight: Brazil’s slump hits job market as election approaches

August 25, 2014

Brad Haynes and Silvio Cascione – Chicago Tribune, 8/22/2014

Many of Brazil’s biggest retailers, homebuilders and carmakers are cutting jobs as Latin America’s largest economy teeters on the edge of recession, a fresh blow to President Dilma Rousseff’s re-election bid.

For years, low unemployment was key to Brazil’s emergence as an economic power and important gains in the fight against poverty.

The unemployment rate remains near record lows of around 5 percent and the leftist Rousseff regularly touts it as a success of the ruling Workers’ Party over the last 12 years.

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LatamWatch: Brazil Presidential Poll, First Debate Tues

August 25, 2014

Charles Newbery, James Young and Daniel Horch – MNI News, 8/25/2014

Brazil’s presidential race enters the stretch this week, six weeks before the October 5 vote, with a new poll and the first presidential debate, both Tuesday.

This poll will be the first since Marina Silva became the PSB party’s official candidate after the death of its original standard-bearer, Eduardo Campos, in a plane crash August 13. A poll last week showed her in second place in the first round of voting, ahead of market favorite Aecio Neves, then defeating President Dilma Rousseff in a runoff round October 26.

But the poll’s margins were slim, and Silva may have been benefitting from sympathy over Campos’ death. She also has not yet faced any attacks from the other candidates, and recently discord in her party, which she joined only a few months ago, has emerged.

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