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Economics, Not Ideology, Will Determine Brazil’s Future Leadership

By: María Teresa Romero - @mt_romero - Aug 8, 2016, 10:30 am
Brasília - O vice-presidente Michel Temer e a presidenta Dilma Rousseff participam da cerimônia de anúncio dos critérios de outorgas de radiodifusão AM para FM, no Palácio do Planalto (José Cruz/Agência Brasil)
Michel Temer and Dilma Rousseff, once running mates, now politicial enemies. (wikimedia)

EspañolA recent survey revealed the Brazilian people are more concerned about how their country’s current situation will affect their pocketbooks than they are about any political or ideological outcomes, according to the Datafolha Institute.

In a survey collected between July 14 and 15, 50 percent of Brazilians said they want interim President Michel Temer to remain in power until the 2018 elections, despite his administration’s approval rating having fallen to 31 percent.

Brazil was the leader in economic growth on the continent over the last decade, but currently faces significant political uncertainty. In a few days, the fate of President Rousseff — suspended from office since May 12 on charges of violating tax regulations in the federal budget — will be decided.

Rousseff defended herself from the allegations by arguing that her alleged manipulation of accounts is a practice commonly used by presidents not only in Brazil, but in other countries as well. She branded the trial as “a farce,” comparing it with the recent attempted coup in Turkey.

“The attempted coup in Turkey is disturbing,” she said on social media. “An elected government cannot be overthrown, neither with violence nor with legal trickery.”

Demonstrations both for and against the Brazilian Congress’ decision in Brazil and in the rest of the hemisphere followed the Rousseff suspension. Most countries preferred to remain neutral, though many defended constitutional order and Brazil’s government institutions.

Former President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva has defended her conduct, even announcing his intention to run for Brazil’s presidency in the 2018 elections as the undisputed leader of the Workers Party.

The survey also found between 22 and 24 percent of Brazilians would vote for Lula in 2018, largely because of the economic boom experienced during his administration. Though Lula has the early lead right now, his advantage could disappear when faced with some of the competition yet to be solidified.

These would be environmentalist and former Minister of Environment Marina Silva, who also faced Rousseff in 2014, and Aécio Nunes, who came in second in the last election.

Brazil’s opinion today is not based on political and ideological criteria, but on the difficult economic situation they are living. It is also clear that the majority of the people and local entrepreneurs are convinced of the bad economic legacy the Rousseff administration is leaving.

Even with interim President Michael Temer’s poor image, the country has begun to breathe a little bit. This might be why 50 percent of Brazilians want him to stay in power a little while longer.

María Teresa Romero María Teresa Romero

Romero is a journalist with a PhD in political science, specializing in international politics. She's a professor at the Central University of Venezuela, a columnist in several Venezuelan and international newspapers, and the author of several books. Follow her at @MT_romero.