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Tag Archive for Dilma Rousseff

Brazilian Presidential election – 42% favour Dilma while Neves and Campos vie for run-off slot

candidatesLast week, I wrote a blogpost highlighting the new (and somewhat unholy) electoral alliance between former Green Senator Marina Silva and Pernambuco Governor Eduardo Campos.

Given that Silva had been polling in a clear second place behind incumbent Dilma Rousseff, her decision to support Campos only came about as a result of her failure to legally register her own political party by the deadline required for Presidential candidates.  Given that the highest support Campos had received in national polls to date was 8%, Silva’s exit had the potential to dramatically re-align the race.  And it has.

The latest Datafolha poll issued this weekend shows Dilma at 42% in the first round, the centre-right alliance’s Aecio Neves at 21% and Eduardo Campos at 15%.

One of the golden rules of polling in the United States – admittedly a much different landscape to Brazil – is that incumbents can only be considered “safe” if their stated support in early polls exceeds 50%+1.  It would be fair to say that Dilma remains in a dominant position at this stage in the cycle but, with only four in ten voters expressing a willingness to vote for her in the first round, these numbers are troubling for her.

With Silva’s exit, there was also the possibility that some of her hardened left-wing supporters may have returned to Dilma as the “best worst” option in a battle between the avowedly-establishment Neves and relatively unknown Campos.  In reality, her supporters seem to have transferred relatively evenly to both Campos and Neves.

If the two men can successfully polarise the Brazilian political landscape to the extent that 45% of voters stay doggedly loyal to Dilma, yet 55% are willing to vote for “anybody but Dilma” in the second round, either of them could find a path to victory.  It will be fascinating to see how the two men approach campaigning against each other as the race hots up.  Not being toxic to one another’s voter base will be crucial.

In the unlikely instance that Campos was to stand aside as the Socialist Party’s nominee (possibly to accept the Vice-Presidential role on a Marina Silva-led ticket), Dilma would poll 39% to Silva’s 29% and Neves’ 17%.  Silva hasn’t ruled this possibility out – but it would appear to be run contrary to her agreement with Campos and the wider Socialist Party.

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Looking beyond the headline figures, there’s one observation I think it more significant than any other.

Datafolha polled a third scenario which pitted Dilma against former Sao Paulo Mayor/Governor Jose Serra and Campos.  In this case, Dilma led 40 to Serra’s 25% and Campos’ 15%.  The inclusion of Jose Serra in this poll only seeks to highlight Neves’ relative strength in national polls.

Jose Serra has been a mainstay of Brazilian politics for more than twenty years, had a stellar record as Health Minister in the Cardoso administration and was the second-placed finisher to Lula in 2002 and Dilma in 2010.  Everyone knows him.  Nevertheless, his support doesn’t exceed 25% in national polls.  While Neves remains pretty much unknown outside his own state of Minas Gerais and amongst upper middle-class voters in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the fact he still polls 15% in a Dilma/Serra race and 21% against Dilma and Campos speaks to the strength of his candidacy.  Additionally, Neves hasn’t had the same kind of PR boost as that handed to Campos but is now polling in a clear second place.

With a year to go until polling day, Neves has a hell of a long way to grow.  It’s worth noting that, a year out from the 2010 elections, Dilma’s support in national polls stood at only 16%.

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You can find the full crosstabs of the poll here.

Brazilian Presidential election – Marina Silva’s exit shakes up the race, boosts Eduardo Campos

imageOne of the biggest surprises of the last Brazilian Presidential election was the expectedly strong showing by Green Party nominee Marina Silva.

While the majority of the race’s focus was trained on Workers’ Party candidate (and now President) Dilma Rousseff and the centrist Jose Serra, Silva’s quietly effective campaign saw her pick up 19% of the first round vote.

Since then, Silva has been a ubiquitous presence in Brazilian public life; staging rallies across the country, appearing on numerous television programmes and writing numerous newspaper op-eds. It was fairly clear to Brazilians that Silva was gearing up to run again in the 2014 election and polls repeatedly showed her to be the strongest possible challenger for Rousseff. Indeed, one poll last month showed her trailing Rousseff by only 14% in the first round of voting – 36% to 22%.

The snag for Silva, however, is that she didn’t have a political party. She left the Greens shortly after the 2010 election after a series of bust-ups with other members who were none to happy at Silva’s attempts to dominate the party. Brazilian Greens don’t confirm to the Western European stereotype of long-haired tree-huggers wearing tie-dye t-shirts but are ordinarily rather scholarly, cultured and wealthy in the mould of an effete Manhatten Democrat or Islington Liberal Democrat. Silva’s outspoken radicalism rather jarred with the party membership.

Under Brazilian law, a candidate must be a member of a political party’s for a year prior to a general election. In order to meet this requirement, Silva sought to gather the 492,000 needed to register her ‘Sustainability Movement’ as a political party. Regrettably for her, the Supreme Electoral Court found roughly 100,000 of her signatures to be invalid, leaving her 5,000 signatures short of what was need to form a party. Her appeal against the ruling was rejected on Thursday, leaving her until only Saturday October 5th (yesterday) to join a party and qualify to run in next year’s Presidential election.

Yesterday evening, Silva shocked the political establishment by joining the Brazilian Socialist Party and throwing her support to the party’s Presidential nominee Eduardo Campos, the popular Governor of the northern state of Pernambuco. Her decision has totally upended the election.

Over the past year, Silva’s support in 2014 polls has risen steadily from 18% to around 25% while Campos’ has been steady at around 5%. It’s clear what Campos has to gain from her endorsement but rather less obvious what advantage Silva gains.

Her decision is a politically risky one.

Firstly, it is far from clear that her largely poor and predominantly ethnic minority voters will be comfortable with backing the white and wealthy Campos. It’s possible she could be dismissed by these groups as having betrayed them by selling out to the political establishment, driving them into the hands of other leftist groups. There are plenty of other people active in Brazilian politics who could appeal to Silva’s base – including Rio de Janeiro Congresswoman Benedita “Bene” da Silva and former Alagoas Senator Heloisa Helena.

Secondly, by boosting Campos’ profile nationally she risks turning him into the de facto ‘leader of the opposition’ and helping him position himself for another run at the presidency in 2018 when Rousseff is term-limited. There is talk of her joining the Campos ticket as Vice-President but, as we all know, it’s the Presidential nominee that gets all the attention, not the Veep.

Thirdly, her alliance risks dividing left-wing voters between the incumbent President and the currently little-known Campos, making it more likely that the centre-right candidate Aecio Neves will make it to the second round. With Dilma’s polling numbers gradually declining, the popular and eloquent Neves may well have a shot at defeating her. It’s hard to see her supporters being happy with such an eventuality. As such, it may well have been wise for her to have exit the race and “risen above politics” rather than backing Campos.

Given how surprising Silva’s announcement was yesterday, no polling has yet been conducted on how it will impact upon next year’s election. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how her exit will shift the race.

Brazilian Presidential election 2014 – Dilma Rousseff: the establishment choice?

dlaIt’s now a little over a year until the next Brazilian Presidential election and the voting intention polls are starting to come thick and fast.

Last month, I wrote a piece examining the latest favourability ratings for President Dilma Rousseff and the polling match-ups between each of the main contenders for the presidency.  Looking at the results, I concluded that Dilma Rousseff’s personal popularity ratings had taken a hit following the summer riots but, barring the entry of former President Lula into the race, she remained the front-runner.

In some respects, nothing has really changed.  This month’s poll Ibope poll shows Dilma’s popularity ticking up slightly as the negative impact of the riot dissepates.  Ibope shows the proportion of people who judge her administration to be “good” or “excellent” increasing from 31% to 38% since July.  This is still way down from the 54% “good”/”excellent” rating she scores in June, suggesting that she hadn’t quite been forgiven by all voters yet.

The most interesting part of the poll for me, however, was the figures that show Rousseff leading former Environment Minister Marina Silva by a 38% to 19% margin with Senator Aecio Neves down at 13%.   Another poll published by MDA in the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper has Dilma at 36%, Silva at 22% and Neves at 15%.

These are probably the tenth consecutive sets of polls I have seen that shows Silva with a clear hold on second place behind Dilma.

If this trend was to continue all the way up to election day and Dilma were to be denied a 50%+1 first round election victory, there would be a run-off between her and Silva.

What would this mean?  Well, it would mean a landslide victory for Dilma.

While the President is a member of the Workers’ Party who claim to be a party of the radical left, their cosy relations with business groups and industrialists cast more than a shadow of doubt upon their genuine leftist credentials.  Silva, on the other hand, is a genuine creature of the left – an ecologist who is staunchly opposed to big business.

The majority of middle class and better educated voters are likely to vote for Senator Neves in the first round yet would, in a Dilma/Silva match-up, strongly line up behind the incumbent.  Dilma may preside over a system of government they see as corrupt and bureaucratic but the thought of a Silva administration and its talk of reneging on international debts, introducing moratoriums on oil drilling and gas exploration and putting up trade barriers against the EU and United States is viewed as unconsicionable.

As anyone who follows Brazilian politics would tell you, opinion polls in the country have a habit of changing rapidly.  As we get closer to the campaign’s formal kick-off, it’s likely that Ms Silva will struggle to compete with the financial resources of Rousseff and Neves.  For now though, it’s interesting to think that the Workers’ Party, who fought so hard and long against “the establishment”, stand at least a change of becoming the party of the establishment.

Dilma government refuses to back Syrian opposition

It came as little surprise to me to read this morning that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has refused join the steadily-increasing number of governments who have recognised the Syrian opposition coalition formed in Doha last week as the country’s legitimate government.

The Brazilian government has instead expressed issued a statement expressing its concern at the worsening violence in the country and called for an enlarged role for the United Nations in solving the conflict.  This stance is sadly entirely characteristic of Brazilian foreign policy over the last decade: abdicate responsibility and continue calling for multi-lateral solutions even when, as in this case, the time for UN-led negotiations has long since passed. Decepcionante…

What makes this decision all the more difficult to understand is that there is a significant number of senior political figures of Lebanese descent currently serving in the upper echelons of the Brazilian government who will no doubt be extremely familiar with the Syrian occupation of Lebanon that was in place for thirty years from 1976 to 2006.  Lebanese-Brazilians a enjoy significant influence of Brazil’s economic, cultural and political life – their ranks including Vice-President Michel Temer, Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin and outgoing Sao Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab.  Widespread protests by the influential Lebanese community could prove vital to forcing President Rousseff to change tack.

Last December I wrote an article for The Commentator expressing my outrage that Brazil had abstained from a vote on United Nations Security Council voted on Resolution 1973 ordering Muammar Gaddafi to call a ceasefire against opposition rebels and imposing a ‘no fly zone’ over Libya.  What was the Brazilian government’s solution to stop the carnage?  They issued a press release calling for “dialogue” between Gaddafi and the rebels.

In the piece, I argued that the Rousseff administration ought to refocus its approach to international relations in order to achieve a leadership role on human rights issues amongst countries in the new global democratic order.  In light of the country’s refusal to back the Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow the barbaric Assad regime, I’d say the article is as relevant today as it was then:

Brazil’s long-held belief in a foreign policy which actively avoids military conflict in favour of diplomacy need not fundamentally change. What must change, however, is the country’s willingness to sacrifice its own passion for the defence of human rights and democracy in the pursuit of a high-minded yet spineless policy of non-interventionism at almost all costs.

An aversion to sending troops into combat need not result in a refusal to impose trade barriers, cut off Brazilian government aid or to back the international community in UN resolutions condemning tyranny.

President Rousseff must ask herself a simple question: does Brazil want to lead a new global democratic order or continue as a quisling state that stands idly by while the same hatreds and injustices that once plagued Brazil rage on its border and overseas?

You can take a look at the extended piece by clicking here.