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Inicio arrow Análisis arrow Latinoamérica arrow Political Situation in Latin America: October 2014

Political Situation in Latin America: October 2014 PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Nov-03-14 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. Rousseff's victory in Brazil implies that the PT will rule for sixteen continuous years and that continuity has prevailed over change. The 4-year presidential term, Lula's first two terms and those of his successor later, generates an unprecedented political cycle in terms of duration. When she completes her second term at the beginning of 2019, half of the time elapsed since the re-establishment of democracy in the mid-eighties of the 20th century, will have been ruled by the PT, with a similar duration to that of the Administration of populist leader Getulio Vargas between 1930 and the end of the Second World War. Some imagine by then a new candidacy of Lula. It is speculation but in Uruguay Tabare Vazquez, the leader of the center-left coalition that has governed the country during the past decade, who would win the second round, would be President for another term, ruling at the ages of 74 and 79, setting the precedent that it's not impossible for Lula to compete in 2018 for reasons of age. When the protests of the new middle classes that broke out in 2013, economic stagnation and the rapid emergence of Marina Silva first and Aecio Neves then, predicted a change, the victory of Dilma in the runoff by just three points showed that continuity prevailed. The geographical analysis of the voting shows that the assistance benefit to the people has been key to the result. Some 30% of Brazilians who remain under the level of poverty remained a strong loyalty to the PT, though the new middle classes that came out of poverty during their governments cast split votes.

2. The Brazilian President does not face an easy term ahead. Markets, which, during the election campaign, went up each time that Dilma was going back in polls and fell when she improved, had a negative behavior after her victory. With an economy that has stopped growing, capital flight and investment decline, rebuilding economic trust will not be easy. Reconciliation with the markets requires not only a change in economic policy by Dilma, but also a change in her political attitude and this is perhaps more difficult to achieve. She has had the electoral victory by smallest margin in the history of Brazil which coincides with a political division of the country, which has been deepening and the hardness in the election campaign - unusual for Brazil - evidenced it. Corruption, which was a central weapon in the campaign of the opposition, implies for Dilma an illegitimate alteration in the political rules of the game and, for the opposition, a situation that undermines the ruling coalition. Build a government coalition that generates parliamentary majorities will not be too difficult to achieve, given the tradition in Brazilian politics and the willingness shown by the PT to negotiate and share power with the country's traditional political sectors.

3. In South America, the victory of Dilma reinforces the continuity of the ruling coalitions and the predominance of center-left parties. In South America, the re-election of Santos in Colombia in May meant that the centre-right coalition governing the country since 2002 will have ruled for sixteen years until 2018, beyond the confrontation with former President Uribe. In Bolivia, Evo Morales' reelection on October 12 in first round will make him govern for 15 years in a row, between 2005 and 2020. In Brazil now, the PT will rule for sixteen years, between 2002 and 2018. If Tabare Vazquez wins in Uruguay, the Frente Amplio will also rule for fifteen years between 2005 and 2020. In addition, the triumph of Bachelet in Chile last year involved the return to power of the center-left coalition that had governed the country between early 1990 and 2009, when the centre-right won with a businessman (Piñera). But this continuity implies that the center-left forces that have dominated South America since the beginning of the 1990 will be maintained. For South American governments that integrate ALBA (Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia), as for Argentina, Dilma is good news, as for Uruguay whose candidate, after having obtained a parliamentary majority in the first round that took place the same day as the second in Brazil, enters the second with many possibilities, now encouraged by the victory of the centre-left in Brazil.

4. As for the role of Brazil in the world, another PT government implies that  the vision of the country as a BRICS power prevails. During the first Government of Dilma, the Brazilian foreign policy assumed this role. In almost all global conflicts, Brazil held the same position as Russia, China, India and South Africa. This occurred both in the UN as in the G20 and it involved a position distant from the G7 countries and a critical stance towards the United States. With this country, bilateral relations are in tension, from complaints about cyber espionage to the Brazilian President - that suffered from it as well as allied governments as Germany- a situation that led to suspend the undated visit that Dilma was going to pay as the head of State to that country. Free trade agreements that Neves would have promoted, will now continue the pace of Mercosur, given the policies of Venezuela and Argentina. The agreement with the EU, which is the first one on the agenda, will probably be delayed.

5. To conclude:

a) Continuity has prevailed over change in the Brazilian elections, and the PT will have governed for 16 years in a row.

b) Dilma's second term will not be easy with a pessimistic economic outlook and a politically divided country, not only in numbers but attitudes as well.

c)  In the region, the outcome of this election reinforces the trend that the same party rules for fifteen or sixteen days in a row and the center-left prevails in its many variants.

d) In Dilma's second term, the self-perception of Brazil will be that of a BRICS power more in line with China and Russia globally than with the US and the G7.

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