Saturday, October 2, 2010

Brazilian Elections: "She's the Man"

It still is unclear if Brazil is in for a run-off in the presidential election, where voters line up to (basically) decide, whether they will vote for Dilma Rousseff (depicted on the left), former chief of staff of the immensely popular president Lula from the PT (Worker's Party), or her rival José Serra, former governor of SP state and member of PSDB (Social Democrats). This week's The Economist has an editorial on the election an rightfully states that, unless disaster strikes, Brazil is in for a further four years of PT, albeit without the charm, charisma and popularity of Lula. According to the latest poll, Ms Rousseff, who has never held elected office and has risen through the ranks as a career civil servant, would receive roughly 50% of the vote - an absolute majority would carry her to a victory.

The stellar popularity of Lula, now to be transferred to Dilma, as she is popularly called, is due the reduction of poverty through social measures, but also inheriting and not reversing macroeconomic stabilizing measures from the previous government - or, as The Economist puts it:
"...Lula deserves praise for bringing into the Brazilian mainstream the once-novel idea that reducing poverty is a proper aim of government (though others sneer snobbishly). But when asked what Lula has done for his country, such people also point to the policies he inherited from his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso." (The Economist, Sep 30, 2010)
But on the sidelines, there are much more interesting things going on. In these elections, not only the future president will be elected, but the upper and lower chambers of the parliament and governor seats are also up for grabs, as are the offices of the state parliaments. On the lower levels, there are the examples of one candidate who appears to qualify for office, because his daughter was brutally murdered a few months ago and has the catchphrase: "Through suffering I have learned to fight - now I am fighting for your vote." 

But there are also two further examples that are at least curious, not to say frightening: The "Mulher Pera" (clicking the link may infringe your corporate IT policy), a starlet with... let's say physical attributes and the circus clown Tiririca (Slogan: "It ain't gonna get worse, than it is") are both running for the lower house of congress in Brasília. Both are candidates for small parties and are so called "Puxadores" (pullers), who are popularly known and thus do not need much marketing. As these candidates will most likely get more votes than they need, the Brazilian electoral system deems that excess votes be passed on to further candidates in their parties - in the case of Tiririca three most likely "pulled candidates" will be career politicians, currently up to their neck in campaign financing scandals and thus would most likely never be elected by popular vote.

These candidates and others are most likely in for their last term in any case - the Lei Ficha Limpa or "Clean Record Act" allows electoral courts to refuse registration of candidates already found guilty by a higher court. However, as this law on recently was pushed through congress and some of the wording is open to interpretation, thousands of appeals will be upheld. Still, today's Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper lists a total of 1248 candidates will not be able to be elected, although they are on the ballot. Of the total of 172 candidates for governor of Brazilian states a total of 15 (!) are in limbo due to pending court decisions.

All in all, even having a clear tally tomorrow evening will not mean that clarity will prevail once once these candidates are supposed to take their elected seats.

No comments:

Post a Comment