Brazil`s Presidential Election – Today

Re-emerging Blog… Elections again

It seems to me I have been too silent, too long, and it is time I re-emerged for the benefit of my “reader”, to whom, my apologies. (I hope at least someone noticed I wasn`t here! Since about June I think…but carry on reading.) A couple of reasons for the absence… firstly I have had my head down trying to convert my novel into a film/TV series script and I will say more about that another day to bring you up to date, including a trip to Hollywood (no, don`t get too excited, it was to a conference of scriptwriters, not to a studio! It will be a longer haul than finding such immediate recognition!) That process has taken rather longer than I realised, and will yet take longer still, but, again, I will say more another time.

Secondly, and this accounts for almost a month`s delay of the overall gap since my last blog, is that I came back from Hollywood with a dose of “gripe” as they say here in Brazil (pronounced grip, by the way, not gripe!). Anyway, my “gripe” (influenza) turned out to be pneumonia – something one of my friends referred to as “the old man`s friend” (too much information, thank you!!) I have to say it rather takes it out of you, recovering from pneumonia. What made it worse, and added at least a week to my recovery time is that I then suffered a bout of food-poisoning – the good side of which is that I now look a little slimmer and I am using an extra notch on my belt!

OK, that`s enough of the entirely personal, let me say something of more general interest. Let me reflect a little on the upcoming elections here in Brazil. But even that brings me back to the “personal” because it means I have been here – and blogging – long enough to comment on TWO sets of elections! This time around, however, the election includes the election for the Presidency.

And, as I write this piece, today is ELECTION day. For me quite a memorable day because we also had bacon, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms for breakfast – quite an unusual feast for breakfast here. Indeed, I cannot recall the last time we had bacon – several months ago, I guess. But, of course, I should not have bacon too often, otherwise that extra notch of the belt will slip back to being unused! Anyway, back to the official blog…

The Election

Initially it seemed that, for the 2014 election, it was going to be a fairly straightforward process of re-electing the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, who seemed to have done enough to waft away any real challenge, even though she and the Government had a fairly rough time of the run-up to the Football World Cup. They were being criticised for spending money on flashy new football stadia in some places that really did not need, nor would use, them AFTER the World Cup. Instead, so the criticism went, they should be spending money on a Health Service that is not currently fit for purpose; a Health Service where poor people are treated with little dignity, by too few doctors, in poor quality hospitals and health centres.

President Dilma also seemed to have done enough, and been independent enough, on the issue of Corruption (with a capital “C”) to distance herself from the creeping tentacles of corrupt practices that had begun to emerge again rather close to her former boss, President Lula. Lula himself had survived the original mensalão scandal (with VERY high popularity levels) to be re-elected after it first hit the headlines in 2005 and he appeared to do enough to let the investigation go where it needed to go (for more information see these links http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensal%C3%A3o_scandal or http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/11/economist-explains-14 or http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-19081519 )

As it was, Lula denied any knowledge of the scandal which had been “masterminded” by his chief of staff, but some questions were being raised again in 2013 after the guilty verdicts of the main culprits. But, again, his underlying popularity seems to have protected him. And Dilma had never been implicated, so it seems not to be an issue in this year`s election at all, despite some attempts to muddy the waters.

And then Fate took a hand. An accident to a small aircraft, in which one of Dilma`s opponents was travelling with several of his key aides, killed all on board. Eduardo Campos led the Socialist Party, but was apparently making little headway in the opinion polls against Dilma. There had been a little boost when he took as his vice-presidential candidate Marina da Silva, but he was trailing in third place, behind Aecio Neves, leader of the Social Democrats. Campos was on about 10%, to Dilma`s 38% and Neves 22% .

So Marina da Silva as running mate had made Campos`s candidacy a little more colourful because of her history as a bit of a maverick, but overall had not made him much more electable. Marina comes from a very poor background as the daughter of a rubber-tapper in the Amazon forest and had been illiterate until the age of about 16. She had been a member of the same centre left Worker`s Party as Dilma and had been Environment Minister in President Lula`s first term of office, leaving in 2008.

Since the election campaign had already begun, there was little time for mourning, but after a short pause (Dilma declared a three day break to recognise the decencies of civility) the Socialists had to choose a replacement candidate and chose Marina to take over. As a “charismatic centrist” she surged in the polls to take over second place, taking some support from Dilma but taking support to a greater extent from Neves. Opinion polls on the day of her announcement as the Socialist official candidate put her on 33% against Dilma`s 37% and Neves` 15% for the first round of the election (that is the one taking place today, 5th October). The same polls indicated she would then beat Dilma in the second round in a three week`s time.

Honeymoon over

This surge in popularity immediately following her selection has been subjected to serious attacks by President Dilma, who has taken the gloves off in what has been regarded as rather a negative campaign in Brazilian terms. At the same time the centre-right candidate Neves (whose grandfather Tancredo Neves had been elected by an electoral college in 1985 to take over as President after 21 years of military dictatorship but then died before taking office) has been chipping away at Marina Silva`s abilities to deliver her proposed programme . He has continually referred to her surge in popularity as a “passing wave” and it seems that people have been listening and taking notice to that message.

Neves made a name for himself as a competent Governor of the Minas Gerais State between 2003 and 2010, following in Tencredo Neves footsteps there as well. And since 2010 Aecio Neves has been a member of the Brazilian Senate. He has a strong local record on social programmes and during his governorship Minas Gerais became the first social programme partner for funding from the World Bank without financial charge. For more on Aecio Neves go here… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%C3%A9cio_Neves

Too close to call

So, here we are on election day and President Dilma looks set to win the first round of elections but with less than 50% of the vote, so there will have to be a second round of elections at the end of October. Marina Silva`s support has declined somewhat and Neves support has rebounded substantially, so that the latest poll puts him back in second place. But the margin between Silva and Neves is only two percentage points which is within the margin of error for polling. Nevertheless the last week`s momentum has been with Neves so pundits here are saying the second place position which will determine who Dilma will be fighting on 26th October is “too close to call” and still hangs in the balance.

http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21622767-president-dilma-rousseff-enters-election-day-handsome-lead-battle-second-place-too

More soon I hope.

K

About Keith Melton - Green Lib Dem

Retired English liberal environmentalist living in Nottinghamshire; spent six years in Brazil. Author of Historical Novel - Captain Cobbler: the Lincolnshire Uprising 1536. Active member of the Green Liberal Democrats - (pressure group in Liberal Democrats) - was Founding Chair of GLD in 1988
This entry was posted in Brazil General, Elections, Environment & Sustainable Development, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Brazil`s Presidential Election – Today

  1. Liz says:

    Good you are back, what an eventful time you have had! Wow a film of the book, look forward to that in the future. Liz x

  2. Nice to see you back would love to have a chat about the convention, sounds fun. I enjoyed your post…I’ve had my head down working hard on a couple of new sites and completely forgot about the elections, I’m not Brazilian only a guest here in this special country but I wish the best for Brazil, whoever it may be…
    maggie@expatbrazil

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