Arthur Pinheiro Machado – Forbes, 4/1/2015
Before the recent presidential elections in Brazil, an intense discussion emerged: is the family grant program (Bolsa Família) an effective instrument for social inclusion and reduction of inequality or is it a mere instrument to win votes from citizens in the lower class? The conversation arose during one of the most polarized and radical debates in the Brazilian political scene over the last couple decades and within the context of the tightest election season of the Brazilian democratic period. This was far from an honest questioning about the effectiveness of the social program itself. Instead, the focus was on the political clout of approximately 41 million people (around 20% of the Brazilian population) who benefited from the government program.
In fact, many believe the overwhelming victory of the current government in deprived areas, such as the Brazilian Northeast, was because of the program. It has been touted as the deciding factor in the recent elections. However, such an argument lacks a political basis. After all, the opposition candidate lost due to insufficient votes in his own home state where, in addition to having been governor, he is also a senator. Since the election, the debates have continued and the program has been viewed as a leftwing Bolivian philosophy, more than a serious policy for social inclusion.