The Results Are In: Brazil Presidential Elections Part 3

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Porto-União-da-Vitória-receberá-Dilma-Rousseff-amanhã-16.06.2014The results are in and Dilma Rousseff has been reelected as Brazil’s president. After a dramatic election season and a brutal run-off election, Rousseff squeaked out a victory with just 51.4 percent of the vote. Her win sent her opponent Senator Aecio Neves of the Social Democracy Party home on narrow margins.

Rousseff of the Worker’s Party was granted a second term as the country is at a tipping point economically. Brazil has been experiencing growing pains as a slowing economy and job market are not reflective of the successful social welfare policies championed by Rousseff that have lifted Brazilians out of poverty and the globalized economy that has helped Brazil soar onto the world stage as an upcoming leader.

By choosing Rousseff, the country (or at least 51.4 percent of it) has decided that the Worker’s Party strategy for economic and political stability will continue to bring Brazil success. Over the next four years, the country will again focus on state-led capitalism, controls over business markets will remain in place, and social welfare programs will continue to operate. However, it should be pointed out that while Rousseff is the victor, her victory was slim, as is her mandate to lead. Not a surprising result given vocal allegations of corruption throughout Rousseff’s first term.

Small Mandate to Lead

As for the remaining 48.5 percent of the country who did not vote for Rousseff, apprehension is building over her plan to bring a stronger economy to Brazil. In particular, the business community remains concerned for Brazil’s future. And with her small margin of victory, uniting the country will be difficult. In fact, the country was almost evenlysplit, as the northern poorer states voted for Rousseff and the rich, more-developed states in the south voted for Neves.

In addition, the Brazilian Bovespa Index took a hit on Monday following the election, dropping more than five percent, losing all of its 2014 gains. This reaction justifies the business community’s concern for Rousseff’s ability to find solutions to the country’s economic problems. All eyes will remain on the index and on other economic indicators as Rousseff’s executes her economic plan in the days and months to come.

Other concerns exist, including doubts over whether or not the Brazilian people made an education decision by voting for Rousseff. With voting in Brazil being compulsory, some have criticized this procedure, stating the requirement brings uneducated voters to the polls who cannot make an informed decision about the candidates on the ballot. Instead, people choose the most recognizable or familiar name, for example, selecting the incumbent. While this is not a new problem for democracy, it does point to the divide that exists between the educated rich and the lesser-educated poor in Brazil.

Finding Legitimacy

Although Rousseff did not have a sweeping victory, her fight to earn legitimacy will be an easier one. Her incumbency and the favorability of hermentor and predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will certainly help raise her stock. Rousseff has promised to reform the stagnate and corrupt parts of her administration and to try to find unity amongst the divide between Brazil’s rich and poor.

To accomplish this, Rousseff must employ a strategic economic plan that not only lowers unemployment but encourages more workers to reenter the labor market after years of exhausting joblessness. Moreover, Rousseff must continue to draw domestic and foreign investment by reassuring investors that Brazil’s expanding economy is not just a fad and that they can find stability in the Brazilians markets. Both are far from easy tasks to tackle.

Staying away from scandal and cleansing her administration of corruption are also important ingredients to reestablishing her mandate. Equally important is ensuring that her strong welfare programs will continue to benefit the Brazilian people and provide satisfactory education and health services to those who truly need them.

When Rousseff’s term is over, the Workers’ Party will have been in power for 16 years — quite the streak for any party in any forward-looking democracy. Unless Rousseff is able to set and execute an agenda that brings both economic prosperity and some unity to Brazil, a widening ideological and expanding wealth gap is destine to grow over the next four years. As the world continues to take note of Brazil’s rising power and importance, it is up to President Rousseff to bring the country the prosperity and wealth it has been clamoring for.

 

About Melaine Furey

Melanie Furey is a research professional from Cleveland currently working abroad in Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica. Most recently Melanie worked as US Senator George V. Voinovich's Research Coordinator where she carried out several research projects on topics including the Arab Spring, the Syrian Civil War, diversity in the United States and American political parties. Now Melanie works as a teacher and is conducting independent research on US foreign policy, Costa Rica and Central American issues and other related topics while abroad. Melanie holds a B.A. in Economics from Allegheny College and a Masters Degree in International Relations from Cleveland State University.
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