Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in runoff election

Dilma Rousseff, the incumbent President of Brazil, won a 42% plurality in Sunday's Presidential election, putting her into a run-off on October 26 with Aécio Neves of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB/Brazilian Democratic Movement Party).

Rousseff is part of the pro-democracy, pro-worker reform movement in South America, which includes - depending on who's making the list - Argentina (elections next year), Bolivia (elections next Sunday October 12), Ecuador, Uruguay (elections on the 26th, the same day as Brazil's runoff), and Venezuela. She is the candidate of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT).

Dilma Rousseff, 2011

Greg Grandin describes Neves as a "neoliberal technocrat." (Why Brazil’s Elections Matter The Nation 10/06/2014)

As Grandin also explains, the reform movement in Brazil has made it an important counterweight to the neoliberal economic policies still pursued by the United States, even under the Obama Administration, who has not been noted for any particular friendliness toward Latin America:

A second term for Rousseff will be especially important in the realm of international affairs. Since coming to power in 2003 with Lula, the PT has steered a foreign policy fairly independent of Washington. First under [PT President Luiz Inácio] Lula [de Silva] and then Dilma, Brasilia’s diplomacy hasn't been “radical.” It's not Havana in the 1960s seeding insurgent movements throughout Latin America or in the 1970s sending tens of thousands of troops into southern Africa to overthrow Washington-backed white supremacy. And it hasn't been confrontational. It's not Hugo Chávez standing up in the UN and waving away George W. Bush's lingering smell of sulfur.

But as the region’s economic center of gravity and an important member of the so-called BRIC countries, Brazil has been absolutely indispensable in countering Washington on trade, war and surveillance. At the United Nations, for instance, in 2004, Brazil and Argentina took the unprecedented step of sharing the two-year seat reserved for temporary Latin American members of the Security Council (Brazil sat the first year, Argentina the second). The cooperation has continued. Argentina currently holds the seat and Brazil backed its efforts to slow down Washington’s rush to war in Syria (that is, the first time around, in the fall of 2013). And it has worked with Germany to promote a General Assembly resolution on “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age,” meant to rein in NSA snooping. Brazil also passed a similar national “Bill of Digital Rights” law ([conservaqtive business magazine] Forbes complains that the law is “breaking the internet,” while one of the pioneers of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, says the law will “unleash a new era — in which the rights of citizens in all countries are protected”). [my emphasis]
In the first round, Wall Street's favorite candidate, as Grandin describes her, was Marina Silva the candidate of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB). Which may be surprising for woman who was the Presidential candidate of the Green Party in 2010. (Marina Silva — PSB Buenos Aires Herald 10/05/2014) She won only 21% of the vote in the first round.

As Martín Granovsky explains, the economic elite in Brazil were particularly fond of two of her proposals, independence for the central bank and a "committee of fiscal responsibility," i.e., promising a corporate-owned central bank and cuts in social services, both favorite parts of the neoliberal menu. Granovsky also notes that she agreed with Neves on closer relations with the US (on corporate-friendly terms, of course!) and making the Mercosur alliance more flexible, that is, weakening it to please American multinationals. (Martín Granovsky, El esfuerzo del PT en diez claves Página/12 06.10.2014)

In Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis (2012), Jamie Galbraith writes of Argentina and Brazil:

The legacy of chaos [in the economic crisis of 2001] placed Argentina among the new radicals, close to the antineoliberal governments of Venezuela, Uruguay, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Meanwhile, despite the left-wing roots of its highly popular government, Brazil remained closer to the centrist camp, which includes Chile and Costa Rica.

Despite these differences, the recent evolution of inequality in both countries departs in similar fashion from the sorry experience of the 1980s and 1990s, reflecting the common change in external conditions and the similarities, more than the differences, in how they responded. In both places, economic inequality declined after the crisis. In both, the distributive patterns underlying this decline involve a sharp drop in the share of income passing through the hands of the banks, a modest recovery in the share passing through the state, and a moderate gain in the relative wealth of the hinterlands as compared to the major cities. In other words, declining inequality in this part of Latin America appears directly linked to a weakening of the political forces that supported neoliberal globalization in the first place. [my emphasis]
Extreme inequality, of course, is a good thing in the neoliberal gospel.

Partido Democratico Trablhista (PDT/Democratic Labour Party) is the official social-democratic party of Brazil, i.e., the Brazilian affiliate of the Socialist International. It is part of the coalition united as Dilma's PT.

As Telesur reports (Brazil: Rousseff's Coalition Will Have Majority In Parliament 10/06/2014), the PT won a solid majority in Parliament in Sunday's elections:

The Supreme Electoral Council (TSE) of Brazil confirmed the results Sunday night. Rousseff's coalition will control the chamber of deputies as well as the senate. Rousseff's coalition includes: Social Democratic Party, Progressive Party, Party of the Republic, Republican Party of the Social Order, Democratic Labor Party, Communist Party of Brazil, Brazilian Republican Party, Brazilian Democratic Movement Party and of course the PT.

The nine parties that supported Rousseff won 294 seats, more than half of the country's 513 congressional leaders. The PT obtained 70 senators but lost 16 in the lower legislature. Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) received 66 seats.
Dilma is quoted at her website (Dilma Governa Para Todas As Classes Sociais Dilma's website 07.10.2014):

Fizemos uma política no Brasil em que todos ganharam. Nós estreitamos a parte de baixo da pirâmide. Diminuímos o número de pobres, aumentamos a parte do meio da pirâmide. A classe média do Brasil foi a que mais cresceu. E também aumentamos as classes A e B. Por isso, houve uma mudança significativa na estrutura da distribuição de renda do Brasil.

[We have made a politics in Brazil in which all win. We are narrowing a part of the base of the pyramid. We have reduced the number of the poor, we have increased a part of the middle of the pyramid. The middle class of Brazil was that which grew the most. And we also increased the A and B classes {the upper classes}. For this, there was a significant change in the structure of the distribution of income in Brazil.]
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