A ‘New Chapter’ between Brasília and Washington

Paulo Sotero – O Estado de S.Paulo, 6/29/2015

The relations between Brazil and the United States have been stagnated since 2011, marked by Lula’s failed attempt to mediate a nuclear agreement between Iran and the international community. President Obama tried to reenact the bilateral dialogue weeks after, as soon as President Dilma Rousseff took office, but NSA’s espionage of Rousseff was not well taken by Brazil, and relations went back to where they had been. Both governments kept emphasizing the importance of a bilateral partnership but didn’t actually do anything to enforce it.
According to the White House’s security adviser, Ben Rhodes, a “new chapter” is about to start with Rousseff’s visit to the United States this week. Rousseff’s agenda includes visits to New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco. She will be meeting with presidents of companies, and attend panels for high executive leaders in New York. In California, she will visit Google and discuss new technologies and innovation. In Washington DC, she will be meeting with President Obama to discuss commerce, investment, security and defense, regional cooperation, science and technology, and very importantly, climate issues.
The timing of the visit is also very significant for the Brazilian leader, since her approval ratings are at a record low. She needs a successful visit and U.S.’s support to push away the discredit her government currently faces. The biggest deliverable of the visit is to rebuild trust, but the biggest uncertainty is if the political drama that Rousseff is facing in Brasilia will allow her a happy ending.

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5 reasons why the impeachment of Dilma is improbable, according to Brazilianists

Alessandra Corrêa – BBC Brasil, 3/2/2015

A series of problems confronted by President Dilma Rousseff in the start of her second mandate was already indicated by some as a signal of a threat to her government.

In response to the Financial Times blog post published last week on ten reasons why Dilma should be impeached, BBC Brasil offers five reasons why this likely will not happen. These reasons include the lack of solid grounds for impeachment and the absence of evidence proving the involvement of Dilma in the Petrobras scandal. Brazil Institute Fellow Matthew Taylor states, “Until now, there is still no evidence that Dilma is guilty of anything other than bad management (in the case of Petrobras).” Taylor also goes on to show why the opposition parties are not interested in having Dilma go through the impeachment process, observing, “I don’t think that the PSDB would have much to gain. Furthermore, they would need the support of the PMDB and other parties in the government’s coalition. And frankly, none of these parties would like to see Dilma suffering an impeachment.”

The article continues with evidence showing that Dilma’s support in congress is still much higher and stronger than that of former president Fernando Collor de Mello, who was impeached in 1992. Another reason for the unlikelihood of impeachment is that the current problems in Brazil are not rare for the region. Brazil is not alone in the lack of investor confidence and therefore unlikely to stand out by themselves by inciting an impeachment process. Taylor concludes by noting that the Petrobras scandal has left the country “warily optimistic.”

For full article [IN PORTUGUESE], click here.

Translation and summary by Brazil Institute intern Erica Kliment.

Brazilians to elect a new president in an atypically sour mood

Paulo Sotero – The Brazil Institute, 10/24/2014

With their country’s economy at a standstill, Brazilians go back to the polls this Sunday in an atypically sour mood to decide whether to extend the mandate of President Dilma Rousseff for four more years or replace her with Senator Aécio Neves, a popular former governor of Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second richest state after São Paulo. Opinion polls released this week showed Rousseff gaining on Neves for the first time, who pulled a stunning turnaround to end in second place in the October 5th first round of vote, way ahead of once favorite candidate, environmentalist Marina Silva. Failures in first round opinion polls were made. However, the unusual volatility of the race even made analysts that seemed convinced of Rousseff’s reelection hedge their bets by avoiding making definitive predictions. One pollster who worked for campaigns of gubernatorial candidates of the president’s coalition told former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at a rally held in the Southern capital of Porto Alegre on Wednesday that his analyses indicated Aécio Neves could win the race.

Three weeks of second round campaigning that ended Friday, October 24th, with a nationally televised debate between the two contenders did little to lighten the poisonous political atmosphere created in the race’s initial 40-days of highly negative electoral tactics used by all major candidates, but especially by Rousseff’s camp. Continue reading “Brazilians to elect a new president in an atypically sour mood”

What Factors Will Decide Brazil’s Presidential Race?

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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The Outlook of Brazil’s October Elections by the Country’s Leading Pollster


During the Brazil Institute’s event on July 29, 2014, Mauro Paulino and Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva provided their insight on the upcoming Presidential elections in Brazil. Paulino, through his work with the prominent Brazil-based research institute, Datafolha, revealed past as well as present statistics and predictions to shed light on the development of voter intention in the upcoming October elections.

The general electorate in Brazil is younger and more educated than it was in the past, leading to a higher distrust in political parties. The speakers note that because of this, the current candidates would do well in distancing themselves from the government and its reputation for corruption by offering a new and separate alternative, but it is unknown as to whether or not this will come to fruition.

Paulino points out a Brazilian anomaly in that although television time is generally thought to enhance candidates’ chances of getting elected, this notion is statistically not true in Brazil. This-coming election also holds the largest percentage of people who are currently unsure for whom they would vote or who would not select any of the candidates by submitting a blank vote. Continue reading “The Outlook of Brazil’s October Elections by the Country’s Leading Pollster”

Brazil has a capacity to do the unexpected

Brazil Institute Director Paulo Sotero will be taking part in the prestigious Chautauqua Institution’s lecture series this week, entitled, “Brazil: Rising Superpower.”

Following is the piece he authored on Brazil in a global context which will be the basis of his lecture on Friday, August 1.

Paulo Sotero – The Chautauquan Daily, 7/31/2014

Not a country for beginners, as composer Antônio Carlos Jobim famously said, Brazil often does what is least expected. It did the unexpected in the World Cup — twice. First, by losing the soccer tournament it was overwhelmingly favored to win at home, and secondly hosting an excellent event, free of the logistical nightmares that were predicted by some and feared by most. It could do it again in the October presidential contest and frustrate the re-election plans of President Dilma Rousseff, who until recently was seen as heavily favored to renew her mandate for four more years.

Here is another surprise: The embarrassing World Cup performance of Brazil’s beloved Seleção and Rousseff’s electoral troubles are unrelated. A Datafolha opinion poll released last week showed that the sour national mood detected by a Pew Research Center survey before the event returned as soon as the games ended. With the economy stagnating and Brazilians increasingly worried about rising inflation and other adverse economic news, 54 percent now say the World Cup brought more costs than benefits to the country, down 8 points since July 1 despite the overall perception that the tournament was a success. Continue reading “Brazil has a capacity to do the unexpected”