What Factors Will Decide Brazil’s Presidential Race?

August 5, 2014

Inter-American Dialogue – Latin America Advisor, 8/1/2014

Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva

Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva

Q: Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is maintaining a lead over main opposition candidate Aecio Neves ahead of the country’s October elections and would beat him in a potential second round, according to a recent poll by Ibope. However, other recent polls have shown the two candidates neck-and-neck in a runoff. With just over two months to go before the election, what factors will have the largest influence on the vote’s outcome? With Brazilians also voting for national and state legislatures and state governors, what are the other key races to watch?

A: Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva, global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: “At this point of the presidential campaign in Brazil, it seems that the odds in favor of Dilma Rousseff’s re-election are better in the election’s first round than in the runoff if it becomes necessary. President Rousseff has a relatively comfortable advantage over the two main opposition candidates in public opinion polls in the first round. But in the runoff simulations, she appears in a virtual tie with Aecio Neves and with a larger but not huge majority over Eduardo Campos. This is probably because the runoff will appear as a kind of referendum on her government. Her chances to be re-elected in the first round will increase if the present inclination of around one-fourth of all voters (according to the most recent polls) to nullify their votes or to vote blank remains. If this happens, with more than a dozen candidates on the ballot, Rousseff may get more than 50 percent of the valid votes and avoid a runoff. The record amount of voters who say they do not want to vote for anyone reflects a growing frustration among Brazilians with the country’s political system. The immense majority of poll respondents say they want change. But most do not seem happy with what the candidates have offered them as possible change. The same polls show that health and public security are the main concerns of the population. But the dissatisfaction is also huge with public transportation, education and other social public services. To these problems, in recent months have been added serious doubts regarding the economy, chiefly about inflation and unemployment. All these will be the main issues in the campaign.

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Brazil’s great moment of hope: interview with Paulo Sotero

July 11, 2013

Warren Hoge – Global Observatory, 06/28/2013

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“People in power are really ignoring the common man’s plight, and I think that is what made this thing boil over,” said Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, of the recent protests, where hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in over 100 cities.

The size of the protests caught even the organizers by surprise, and though they began after the government announced a modest rise in bus fare, Mr. Sotero, speaking from São Paulo, said a deeper sense of disappointment in the government is what really made the protests catch fire. “It’s not bus fare rises, it’s not per se the lavish expenditures on the stadiums. It is the irritatingly slow pace of change in a country that has experienced the emergence of a middle class that was promised and has seen some of the benefits of a middle class life with some degree of equity, but that suddenly see that life is very hard, that they may not get there because the economy is stalling, because inflation is on the rise again, because there is too much corruption,” Mr. Sotero said.

Mr. Sotero said that the Worker’s Party, which many Brazilians felt, “had been a party that valued ethics in politics, a party that came from the bottom of society, the only grass roots party in the history of Brazil,” changed once it was elected to the federal government, where it’s goal became to keep power and to have access to public funds for their own objectives, creating disillusionment among its supporters.

Click here for full article, transcripts and audio.

Paulo Sotero is the Director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Yassin


Brazil’s Challenging 2013 Outlook

December 18, 2012

Michael Darden – Brazil Institute , 12/18/2012

Dilma, elections, originalThe following is a the event summary for the Brazil Institute event held on 11/20/2012

As the administration of President Dilma Rousseff struggles to reverse the trend of declining rates of economic growth in an adverse global scenario, Brazil’s domestic outlook in 2013 will be impacted by the consequences of two major political events – municipal elections that took place in October and the Federal Supreme Tribunal’s unprecedented hearings of the largest political corruption trial in the country’s history, which concluded with guilty verdicts for 25 of the 37 people indicted. On November 20th, the Brazil Institute convened a panel of experts to analyze and give insight into the landmark events and assess political and social outcomes for the upcoming year.

David Fleischer, professor emeritus at the University of Brasilia, offered an overview of the elections of mayors and city council members in Brazil’s 5,568 municipalities and analyzed trends that emerged from the polls. In the first round of vote held on October 7 the turnout of over 140 million was 7.2 percent higher that of the previous elections held in 2008. The number of female candidates running for office also increased in the mayoral campaigns by 2.5 percent over a four year period, resulting in more women mayors in Brazil.  Compared to 503 females that were elected in 2008, 674 will take office on January 1, 2013, or 12.2 percent of all mayoral positions. However, there was a significant decline in the number of female city council members elected, falling from 8.9 percent of the total in 2008 to 5.2 percent in 2012.

Another trend noticed by Fleischer, as well by other speakers, is the continued electability of incumbents. A majority, 67.5 percent, of mayors running for reelection in the largest cities were given another term. Within parties, 75 percent of those elected belong to seven parties, six of which have dominated mayoral races since 1996. The rise of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), led by the outgoing mayor of São Paulo Gilberto Kassab, was seen as not significant politically, since most of its members came out of the Democrats, formerly the Party of the Liberal Front, which has declined.

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Brazil in 2013: Can Rousseff rise to the occasion?

December 11, 2012

Paulo Sotero – CNN, 12/10/2012

120604025757-dilma-rousseff-story-topThis is the first in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.

Editor’s note: Paulo Sotero is director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington D.C. The views expressed are his own.

In her first two years as Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff did the improbable. A neophyte in elective politics seen by many as a mere extension of her revered predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Rousseff is today more popular at home than her creator. Remarkably, she gained the trust of the Brazilian people while her economic team and policies lost investors’ confidence – GDP growth moved in the opposite direction of her approval rating, shrinking from 7.5 percent in 2010 to 2.7 percent in 2011, and somewhere around 1 percent this year.

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The Brazilian challenge: how to manage asymmetrical regional relations beyond the OAS

May 7, 2012

Paulo Sotero – Revista CIDOB d’afers Internacionals, April 2012

ABSTRACT – Viewed by the Lula administration as a relic of the Cold War, the OAS was mostly viewed as an observation post. Diplomats were instructed to maintain a defensive stance and to prevent actions perceived as contrary to Brazilian interests. Indifference turned to ill-disguised anger, however, in the first months of the Dilma Rousseff administration, after the Inter-American Human rights Commission (IHRC) issued an injunction instructing Brazil to cease construction of the controversial Belo Monte Hydroelectric Power Plant. Brazil’s reaction included the recalling of its ambassador to the OAS. This has compounded the OAS’s existential problems by making the organization’s financial position even more precarious. If it goes unresolved, however, the clash could complicate Brazil’s strategy to assert its regional and global leadership as a champion of human rights and multilateralism.

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*Article is in Spanish


Understanding Brazil

April 19, 2012

William Sapp – Geopolitical Monitor, 04/12/2012

*Dr. Tedd Hewitt, a Public Policy Scholar with the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, discusses Brazil-Canada relations.

Dr. Hewitt is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada and Visiting Public Policy Scholar at the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

In this 45 minute interview, Dr. Hewitt offers critical insight into Brazil’s role in the 21st century and its ascendency to global power.  Dr. Hewitt addresses a wide spectrum of issues ranging from the history and shape of Brazilian-Canadian relations to what Canada can learn from Brazil’s technological advancement and expertise.

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As Brazil grows, U.S. refits relationship

April 16, 2012

NPR, 04/14/2012

*Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute speaks to Linda Wertheimer on the Summit of the Americas

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visited the White House this week, and the two nations are meeting again at this weekend’s Summit of the Americas. Guest host Linda Wertheimer speaks with Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, about developments in U.S.-Brazil relations.

Listen to the interview…


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