Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More on Dilma's re-election in Brazil

Al Jazeera English reports on the Brazilian election, Dilma Rousseff re-elected Brazil president 10/26/2014:

Euronews also has a brief spot on the election results, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff wins second term 10/26/2014:

Much of the reporting on Dilma Rousseff's re-election Sunday as Brazil's President has understandably stressed the relatively narrow margin of her vote, 51.6% vs. 48.4% for her opponent Aécio Neves, according to a 10/26/2014 Reuters report. Reuters called it "one of the closest, most divisive campaigns in Brazil in decades." (Brian Winter and Alonso Soto, Leftist Rousseff narrowly wins second term in Brazil 10/26/2014)

Then again, a clear majority is a clear majority. And, as Eric Nepomuceno points out, Brazil is not a small country; three percentages points amount to around three million votes. (Brasil reafirmó su confianza en Dilma Página/12 27.10.2014) So it's not as if this election turned on hanging chads in a single Brazilian state or something.

And Martin Granovsky adds further perspective. (Las claves de la alegría y el alivio Página/12 27.10.2014) With 55.5 million votes, Dilma's PT is the most-voted-for left party in the world right now. (Granovsky is presumably excluding the one-party elections in China featuring the Communist Party.) After her second term is done, that will represent 16 consecutive years of the PT as the ruling party. Her Presidency follows the two terms of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. And Dilma's policies are broadly a continuation of Lula's. Neither are thought of fondly be advocates of the neoliberal "Washinton Consensus." Emir Sader writes (Por el camino iniciado por Lula Página/12 27.10.2014):

En el enfrentamiento entre el modelo neoliberal de la oposición y la vía de salida del neoliberalismo del gobierno, por cuarta vez los brasileños han reafirmado el camino que Lula ha empezado. Serán por lo menos 16 años seguidos de gobiernos del PT, el período más largo de continuidad de un partido en el gobierno, en período democrático en Brasil.

[In the confrontation between the neoliberal model of the opposition and the path away from neoliberalism of the government, for the fourth time Brazilians have reaffirmed the path that Lula began. There will be at least 16 successive years of PT governments, the longest period of continuity of a party in the government during a democratic period in Brazil.]
Granovsky also calls attention to outsized role played by major media companies, not least of them TV giant Red Globo and the magazine Veja. The overtly partisan role of major media is a widely-recognized fact of life in various South American countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela. In all three countries, the weight of media influence is against the governing party, despite the routine claims in the US media about how the Venezuelan government dominates the press or even controls it.

And he notes that Dilma's re-election was widely seen as a victory for the broader reforms movement (democratic reform, not neoliberal reactionary "reforms") in South America:

El triunfo en Brasil fue recibido como propio en la Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador y Chile, y con satisfacción por el colombiano Juan Manuel Santos, que por Twitter felicitó y dijo que espera “seguir trabajando por el bien de nuestros dos países y la región”.

[The triumph in Brazil was received as their own in Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile, and with satisfaction by the Colombian {President} Juan Manuel Santos, who tweeted congratulations and said that he expects to "keep working for the good of our two countries and the region."]
Presumably because of its physical size, population and economy, Gronovsky argues, "Dilma y Lula consiguieron la victoria electoral más importante de los proyectos de reforma con inclusión en Sudamérica" ("Dilma and Lula have achieved the electoral victory of the reform projects with inclusion in South America"). Inclusion refers to civil rights for minorities, including aboriginal peoples, and for gays and lesbians. Same-sex marriage is legal in Brazil.

This is a Portuguese-language report on Dilma's post-election speech; Portuguese is the main language in Brazil. Discurso de Dilma Rousseff após ser reeleita Presidente do Brasil 10/26/2014:

TV Pública argentina provides this Spanish-language post-election analysis, which also discusses yesterday's Presidential election in Uruguay, Visión 7 - Análisis sobre el resultado de las elecciones en Brasil y Uruguay 10/27/2014:

Nepomuceno writes that Dilma's speech as, ""emotivo, sincero, de compromiso" ("emotional, sincere, in a spirit of engagement"). He notes that she will face a stubborn rightwing opposition. Some of whom are "más que conservadores, son radicalmente conservadores" ("more than conservatives, they are radically conservatives"). He gives an example of far-right sentiment: "En Río, el más votado ha sido un militar retirado que defiende la dictadura y dice que prefiere tener a un hijo muerto que a un hijo homosexual" ("In Río, the candidate winning the most votes was a retired general who defends the [last Brazilian military] dictatorship and says he would prefer a dead son than a homosexual son").

Dilma's Worker's Party alliance (Partido de los Trabajadores/PT) won a majority in both houses of Congress. But one of Dilma's main allies, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB/Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro) may not be consistently reliable. Separate parties in Brazil and Argentina will often combine into an umbrella party or electoral coalition in national elections. Nepomuceno reports that the PMDB was split, with about half supporting Dilma and the other half Neves.

I generally don't attach much significance to stock market changes after elections or disasters. But Brazilian stocks did dip after Dilma defeated Neves, who was conventionally assumed to be more "pro-business." (Maria Tadeo, Brazil elections: Currency and stocks tumble after Dilma Rousseff is re-elected The Independent 10/27/2014) Tadeo gives us a hint of what those "pro-business" policies were:

Neves, a senator and former governor of the state of Minas Gerais, had promised to speed up economic reforms, make the central bank more independent and encourage foreign investment against a backdrop of rising inflation, falling commodity prices and a slowdown in the economy.

"We anticipate that the re-election campaign will act as a wake-up call for Rousseff, helping to recognise the inadequacies of her past policies," said Kunal Ghosh, manager of the Allianz BRIC Stars Fund.

"We will continue to maintain an underweight position in state-owned enterprises and banks in Brazil as policy changes will take time," he added.

On Sunday, Rousseff struck a conciliatory tone and vowed to tame inflation, which is running above six per cent, and "make improvements" when it comes to Brazil's public finances.

Rousseff had previously announced Guido Mantega, the country's finance minister, would be replaced, presumably by a more pro-business minister, if she won a second term.
Dilma carried Minas Gerais, the state where Neves had been governor.

There were notable polarizations along class and regional lines. The less prosperous northeastern states are the main voting base for the PT, and they came through for Dilma in Sunday's runoff. Eric Nepomuceno writes in another article, Dilma otra vez Página/12 27.10.2014:

Al fin y al cabo, ella perdió, y de lejos, en las regiones más ricas del país. En São Paulo, por ejemplo, más desarrollada y poblada provincia del país, Dilma perdió por siete millones de votos. Una tremenda derrota: Eche logró 64 por ciento de los votos de la provincia más industrializada, más rica del país, frente al 36 por ciento de Dilma. Ya en los estados pobres del nordeste su ventaja ha sido aplastante. Un dato importante: en Minas Gerais, provincia natal de los dos adversarios, Dilma ganó con relativa tranquilidad. E igualmente ganó en Río, provincia clave. Todo eso tendrá peso específico de aquí en adelante.

[When all is said and done, she lost by a wide margin in the richest regions of the country. In São Paulo, for instance, the most developed and populous province of the country, Dilma lost by seven million votes. A tremendous defeat: She managed to lose 64% of the votes in the most industrialized province versus 36% for Dilma. Yes, in the poor states of the northeast her window {of victory} was enormous. An important fact: in Minas Gerais, the home province of her two adversaries {in the first round}, Dilma won with relative tranquility. And same won the same way in Río, a key province. All of this will have specific weight going forward from here.]

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