Supreme Court Justice defends political reform in Brazil at event in Washington DC

Henrique Gomez Batista – Globo, 07/06/2016

Justice Dias Toffoli, from Brazil’s Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal), stated this Wednesday morning, during a presentation at the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute that he believes that the “Car Wash Operation” investigation is doing a good job. When questioned on his opinion of Judge Sergio Moro, responsible for the “Car Wash” investigation in Curitiba, Toffoli repeated his opinion and stated that whileMoro has done a “good job” he is not responsible for the “judicial transformation in Brazil”.

He stated  “It is not the one judge changing the history of Brazil, but rather civil society in general”

Justice Toffoli reminded the audience that the  “Car Wash Operation” has come this far due to prior modifications of the constitution, which were approved by many politicians who are being investigated, such as the law that allows the use of plea bargains. Toffoli also emphasized that these changes started under Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government.  It was during Cardoso’s government that the law of Fiscal Responsibility was instituted which gives the Public Ministry the transparency and liberty to elect the new Attorney General of the Republic.

“Obviously, there is also the Mensalão case, which saw big name politicians and business executives become indicted, giving further legitimacy to the rule of law,” he said.

Toffoli also defended the habeas corpus that some Justices granted during the Car Wash investigation by saying that it is a normal part of the legal process. Toffoli also defended a legal reform to end the “coalition presidentialism”, by emphasizing that the best thing for the country would be to adopt the district vote in the Chamber of Deputies, as opposed to the current proportional system implemented in the country.

Original Article (Portuguese) can be found here…

Translated into English By Julia Fonteles and Therese Kuester


What 10,000 Brazilians Think About Ousted President Dilma Rousseff

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 06/13/2016

Can 10,003 Brazilians be wrong? Out of that number, only 5% of them think ousted Workers’ Party president Dilma Rousseff will survive her impeachment trial in the Senate. A total of 92% say Dilma is a goner. The survey did not ask whether or not people felt she should be removed from office, however. No trial date has been set, but rumor has it that it will take place before the Summer Olympics in early August.

Washington DC based Brazil Institute from the Woodrow Wilson Center commissioned Ideia Inteligencia to conduct the telephone poll between May 30th and June 5th, roughly two weeks after a Senate committee agreed to proceed with an impeachment hearing against the president. The number of respondents who told Idea that Dilma will be impeached is much greater than the roughly 63% who told a recent poll by MDA Pesquisa.

When asked who is to blame for the current economic crisis plaguing the nation, 55% blamed Dilma and her former Vice President Michel Temer. Individually, 28% laid the blame solely on Dilma while 12% said interim president Temer was to blame. If Dilma manages to return to the presidency, 45% said Brazil will be worse off, while 30% said it will be the same as it is now (which is already pretty bad). A mere 10% said Brazil would be better off if Dilma returned, suggesting that only party loyalists are sticking to the cause at this time.

Read More…


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.

Read more…

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

Warren Hoge – Global Observatory, 06/28/2013


“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

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.

Read more…

Brazil in 2013: Can Rousseff rise to the occasion?

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.

Read more…