Friday, October 10, 2014

Brazilian Presidential elections on 5 October extend to a second round on 26 October

Since none of the candidates got the required fifty percent majority in the Brazilian Presidential elections held on 5 October, there will be a second round on 26 October between the centre-left President Dilma Rouseff and centre-right Aecio Neves. As of now polls predict Dilma win but the Braziian electorate is known for giving surprises.

Brazilian Presidential elections on 5 October extend to a second round on 26 October

President Dilma Rouseff got 41.59 percent of votes while her rivals Aecio Neves got 33.55 % and Marina Silva 21.32%. According to the Brazilian electoral law if the leading candidate does not get 50%, there has to be a second round of elections between the top two candidates. So, Dilma and Neves will fight in the second round to be held on 26 October.

The results are somewhat close to the opinion polls held last week although Neves got more than what was predicted. Till a week back Neves was trailing in the third position and overtook Marina only in the last week. In early September, Marina Silva was predicted to win in the second round with her double digit lead over Dilma. But in the last one month Marina was discredited by the aggressive negative campaign of the Dilma machinery which exposed the contradiction between the pro-big business approach of Marina and her claim to be on the side of the poor people. The personal attacks made especially by Lula had hurt Marina more severely. Marina was seen as having compromised her idealism and environmental activism for getting the votes of business and religious groups. Marina failed to defend or clarify her positions effectively and paid the price. Before the sudden surge of Marina last month, Dilma was comfortably leading ahead of her rivals and was widely expected to get reelected in the second round if not in the first. 

President Dilma is happy to have the centre-right Neves as the opponent rather than Marina who would have encroached on her vote bank of the poor. Now it is a clear fight between the business-friendly Neves and Dilma who will claim to represent the masses. Recognising the fact that about 60% had voted against her, Dilma said, ' My second term will be better than my first. I clearly understand the message from the streets and from the ballot box'. She will scare the poor people with the message that Neves might scrap the pro-poor programmes like Bolsa Familia. Dilma is encouraged by the fact that her Workers Party candidate has become the governor of Minas Gerais, the home state of  Neves beating the candidate of his Social Democratic Party. But Dilma's Workers Party has lost to Neves's party her home state of Rio Grand do Sol as well as Sao Bernardo do Campo, the home of Lula and where he founded the Workers Party. Dilma is also on weaker ground on the poor performance of the economy, her unpopular interventionist policies and the corruption scandals which have tainted the image of her Workers Party.

Neves has got a tremendous confidence boost by the fact that he got just 8% less votes than that of Dilma. He needs to work on the beneficiaries of the poverty alleviation programmes of the government of President Dilma that he would also care for them. Although Marina has not openly announced her endorsement of any candidate, she seemed to be inclined towards Aecio when she said, " Brazil clearly showed it does not agree with what is out there ". The candidature of Neves is quite strong given his background as the two term successful governor of Minas Gerais the second most populous state in Brazil. He left office in 2010 with more than 90 percent approval rating. He is the grand son of Tancredo Neves who was chosen as the first post-dictatorship civilian President in 1985 but died before taking over the office. His Social Democratic Party, which ruled Brazil before Dilma's Workers Party until 2002, has a solid national network and campaign machinery. 

As of now President Dilma is expected to get reelected in the second round on 26 October. But the Brazilian voters might change their mind in the next three weeks. If Dilma is reelected she will continue her low key approach to foreign policy and to partnership with India. Neves is likely to take more interest in foreign affairs. He has never visited  India although his state Minas Gerais has been active in business with India. 

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