Brazil 2014 – The Presidential Campaign

2014 is an important year for Brazil. Not only because the country will be hosting the FIFA World Cup, but mainly because during the second semester Brazilians will elect their new President, or reelect President Dilma Rousseff.

Although there are still nineteen months before presidential elections take place, the scenario for the campaign is already being defined by the most important parties and politicians.

Most analysts agree that if there are no surprises until October 2014, the four main candidates are already defined: Dilma Rousseff (Workers’ Party), Marina Silva (Sustainability Network), Aécio Neves (Party of Brazilian Social Democracy) and Eduardo Campos (Brazilian Socialist Party).

Dilma Rousseff ran for the first time for an elected position in 2010, when she won the Presidential election backed by Lula and the high approval rates of his government. Running for reelection is natural, and recent movements have shown that the Workers’ Party is trying to strengthen its alliances with other parties. Their alliance with Brazil’s biggest party (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party), which indicated Ms. Rousseff’s  Vice-President in 2010, shall be maintained for 2014. On her side, Dilma Rousseff will once again count on the public support of Lula, who played an essential role in her previous victory. However, analysts agree that the economic performance of Brazil in 2013 may play a determinant role in the election’s results: after the impressive results of the Brazilian economy during most part of Lula’s government, Brazil experienced modest GDP growth in the last two years (2.7% in 2011 and 0.9% in 2012) and some raise doubts on the government’s ability to control inflation rates in the near future.

Marina Silva is the only contender among the aforementioned candidates that has run for President in the past. A former member of the Workers’ Party, Marina Silva became the Green Party’s candidate in the 2010 election, when she impressively obtained almost 20 million votes. After leaving the Green Party, Marina Silva announced the creation of a new party – the Sustainability Network last month. With a speech on  different ways of doing politics, the Party will have to show that it has the power and capacity to mobilize the resources needed to obtain a positive result in the coming elections during the coming months.

Senator Aécio Neves is the natural candidate from the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB) – or at least that is the opinion of former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. After governing the country from 1994 to 2002, the PSDB became the main opposition party after Lula’s election. Aecio Neves is backed by his famous family name (he is the grandson of Tancredo Neves, elected president in 1985, but who died before taking office) and by the political capital that he built during his two terms as Governor of Brazil’s third largest state. It is clear that PSDB will try to use in its favor the weak economic results of Ms. Rousseff’s government so far, and the corruption scandal known as Mensalão, which involved leaders of the Workers’ Party during Lula’s first term and that was judged by the Brazilian Supreme Court in 2012. However, the defeats during the three last national elections and mainly the strong internal struggles within the party may diminish Neves’ chances of securing the presidency next year. Moreover, the state level corruption scandal involving the party’s former president, Eduardo Azeredo, has not been ruled as of yet by the Supreme Court, a fact that will probably be leveraged by adversaries during the campaign.

Finally, Eduardo Campos has been a rising as a new leader in the Northeast of Brazil during the past years. This region is extremely important to election results and has been a region highly dominated by Lula and the Workers’ Party during the last presidential elections. If Campos decides to become a candidate next year, the influence of the Workers’ Party in the region may diminish, potentially affecting the final result of the elections. Although the party is currently an ally of Ms. Rousseff’s government, analysts believe that Campos may break with the government if he feels that he has a chance of winning the elections next year. He would be backed by the party that has recently gained more power and strength and by the approval rates of his government in the State of Pernambuco, where he has governed since 2007, being reelected in 2010.

In conclusion, the next months in Brazil will involve intense disputes and preparations for the country’s most important event of 2014: the presidential campaign.

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About Paulo Marzionna

CLASS Secretary - MS/PhD Candidate at Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations
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