Thursday, 26 August 2010

Commentary: Brazil's presidential election

To the extent that polls can be relied upon, the three largest polling organizations in Brazil concur that the Partido dos Trabalhadores' (PT) Dilma Rousseff has indeed a significant and widening edge over the Brazilian Social Democracy Party's (PSDB) José Serra. Her victory in the first ballot is at this stage probable, but by no means a shoo-in. Surprises can happen.

Serra has, however, run a lukewarm campaign, in part due to his personality and in part owing to his fractious coalition, whereas from day one outgoing President Lula embraced Dilma as his heiress apparent, leaving no doubt that he would remain in control during her tenure. Given his astonishing popularity ratings (75 per cent), Serra avoided confronting him. It was a duel between Lula's raw charisma and Serra's pallid accounts of his government experience, about which nobody cared.

A refurbished and embellished Dilma performed well on TV and in debates, where Serra had expected to crush her. This did not happen. Unless Serra becomes more aggressive in the remaining month, he will have lost the campaign and the presidency. The Green Party's Marina Silva trails with 8 per cent, and it is possible that some of her votes would accrue to Serra in a run-off – if there is one.

For more news and expert analysis about Brazil, please see Brazil Focus.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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