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. Can Help Increase Voter Turnout and Decide the Presidential Election

By: José Azel - Aug 8, 2016, 9:38 am

ISideWith is a website that purports to help asses how our beliefs align with the various presidential candidates in this electoral cycle. Started by two friends with very different political views, ISideWith avows it is not affiliated with any political party or interest group. Its objective is to educate voters and boost voter turnout. According to the site, over 37 million voters have taken the quiz. Intrigued, unhappy with the dominant political options and challenged by my wife, I decided to try it. The quiz I took consisted of a total of 89 questions subdivided into eleven issue categories: Social, Environmental, Economic, Domestic Policy, Healthcare, Electoral, Educational, Foreign Policy, Criminal, Immigration and Science. // For each question a simple yes or no answer could be recorded, but also more nuanced responses were offered. Each question also included a “learn more” link expanding on the question as well as an opportunity to rate the particular topic in terms of its importance to the quiz taker. Granting all the imperfections and limitations inherent in this sort of assessment instrument, the quiz seemed well constructed and comprehensive, so I took about 20 minutes to respond thoughtfully to all the questions. At the risk of coming across as egocentric, I will share with the reader my ISidewith’s political profile to illustrate the feedback. According to the ISideWith algorithm, I side with Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson on 82 percent of the 2016 election issues. The site further instructed me that: “Your political beliefs would be considered modestly libertarian on an ideological scale, meaning you tend to support policies that promote social and economic freedom.” ISideWith informed me that I side with Libertarians on most economic and social issues. On science issues I side with Democrats, Socialists and Green Party. I side with Republicans on most foreign policy, domestic, environment and healthcare issues. On election issues I side with the Constitution party, and on crime issues I side with Democrats, Libertarians and Green Party. Hmmm… But ISideWith was not finished assessing me; it proceeded to analyze my thought processes. Apparently, I am a moderate imperialist, meaning I believe we should proactively address potential issues before they turn into a serious and immediate threat. I side moderately toward laissez-faire since I believe government intervention in economic markets leads to long-term negative results. ISideWith also labeled me as a slight elitist that often considers important decisions are best made by those with the most experience and knowledge. I am a moderate capitalist signifying I support an economic system that features private ownership of wealth. In terms of privacy versus security, ISideWith tells me I side with security, thinking government should do everything within its power to ensure the security of its citizens. I am a globalist and not a protectionist, judging that globalization is necessary to increase the economic strength, prosperity and standard of living of the nation. I am anthropocentric reasoning that humankind is the central element of existence. ISideWith claims I lean slightly toward progressive, because I judge that we should be a nation that values personal freedom, expression and diversity. Also that I prefer decentralization, because I believe that administrative power and decision-making should be handled at the local level. I am not a collectivist, but an individualist, supporting free market policies that create opportunity for personal liberty and success. I favor deregulation deeming that government regulations often stifle innovation and economic prosperity. ISideWith explains that I am not tender, but side slightly toward tough love with little sympathy for those that break the law or make bad choices. I consider that government is overly bureaucratic, inefficient and wasteful. I lean moderately toward unilateralism and militarism trusting we should use whatever force is necessary to protect ourselves against foreign threats according to ISideWith. Who knew? For voters of my generation, ISideWith may be inconsequential, but judging by the intense interest the site has generated among millennials, it may very well fulfill its aim of increasing voter turnout and help decide the next President of the United States.

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