Brazilian Political Analyst Joao Augusto de Castro Neves: Dilma Rousseff Will Not Be Lula's Medvedev
Exclusive nterview of Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) with Joao Augusto de Castro Neves, a US-based Brazilian political analyst, CAC Political Consultancy, on the Presidential Elections in Brazil won by Bulgaria-descended Dilma Rousseff. By Ivan Dikov
How would you characterize the Presidential race in Brazil between Dimla Rousseff and Jose Serra? From the beginning of 2010 till the second round in October both seem to have experienced serious ups and downs, why do you think that is? What are the strengths of the two major candidates, where do they draw their support from?
Jose Serra has a very long track-record of public service, as senator, minister, mayor and governor. He also ran against Lula in 2002. That's the main reason why he was leading the polls until the first months of 2010.
Dilma Rousseff, in turn, was relatively unknown, a technocrat from Lula's administration that rose to the government's most prominent position - the president's chief of staff - in part because of her abilities, in part because Lula's closest aides were struck down by scandal along the 8 years of mandate.
Both candidates are considered more technocrats than politicians. Dilma's lead is a direct function of Lula's popularity - he was able to transfer his popularity to her.
Dilma Rousseff appears to remain the more likely winner. How do you view her and her record 1) as a politician and economist, and 2) as a candidate?
Adding to what I mentioned above, Dilma Rousseff has no track-record as a politician. This is her first elections in 2010, and she has not been a historic member of the president's party, the PT (Workers' Party).
As a economist, she is also not very well known - she is not a scholar. She began working in the energy sector for left-wing governments in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.
She was offered a cabinet post in Lula's administration (Energy) as a result of Lula's coalition with smaller left-wing parties. As a candidate, she learned a lot along the way, but greatly benefited from Lula's direct help and the incapacity of the opposition to mobilize voters.
Do you think Dilma Rousseff and her campaign have managed to cope efficiently with the major issues she faced – having to do with the allegation of corruption by her successor and about her stand on abortion? Has her past been an issue?
Overall, the election was very poor when it came to the debates on ideas and issues. As for corruption, I think Dilma was able to avoid the subject and the opposition was not firm enough to press it.
Her past has been an issue, but it was not enough to threaten her chances. In Brazil, people pay less attention to the politician's personal life (as they do in the US, for example). People do not care as much.
Even though this has lifted her to widespread popularity, do you think Dilma Rousseff's presidency (if elected) would suffer from the fact that she has literally been "anointed" by President Lula da Silva? Has she managed to "acquire" a "face" of her own, and what does that face look like, in your opinion?
As in theater, if the election tomorrow confirms Dilma's victory, it will be a signal "Enter Dilma" in the beginning of 2011. The question is: will it also mean "Exit Lula"?
Brazilian history shows that the level of loyalty between the creator and its political creature tend to diminish at the first sign of a crisis.
Also, to compare with Russia, Dilma will not be Lula's Medvedev. Brazilian democratic institutions are much stronger than those in Russia.
On the plus side, Dilma may benefit from Lula's popularity in the beginning, while she tests the water of governing. On the negative side, Lula's presence and influence might hinder her capacity to develop leadership that will be needed to deal with her wide and diverse governing coalition. It is too soon to tell.
Lula's popularity has largely been attributed to Brazil's economic takeoff in the recent years. Is there more to that? If Dilma Rousseff succeeds him, what should be expected from her as president in terms of Brazil's economic and international policies?
There is more to Brazil's rise than Lula. There are consistent pillars that support Brazil's rise and that were put in place in the last two decades. From political stability to economic stability.
Lula was smart enough to maintain the economic policies of his antecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and he also benefited from a favorable global economic environment (until 2008).
He was very competent in implementing social policies (such as Bolsa Familia cash transfer program) that was very efficient to alleviate poverty. Nevertheless, his popularity also helped to give Brazil more international credibility.
Dilma will not have that popularity, at least in the beginning of her administration. I think she will try to follow Lula's footsteps on most things. The question is: will she be able too? Is popularity the main ingredient or will she be able to compensate with hard work.
Generally speaking, internationally, should one expect Brazil to grow closer with the so called "Western democracies", or with the emerging powers such as the BRIC countries?
If Dilma wins, it will be "business as usual" in terms of foreign policy. Emerging powers coalition will be one of the main foreign policy strategies. But the lack of popularity and charisma may also hinder this strategy.
If Brazil maintains a foreign policy more distant to Western democracies when it comes to human rights, climate change etc., it will be hard to deal with pressure and criticisms.
Lula had enough strength to fend off criticism. Dilma may not have that. But, then again, the Brazilian foreign ministry may adjust the rhetoric a little bit, to avoid taking too much risks.
Brazil is an immigrant society but do you think Dilma Rousseff's Bulgarian origin has come to play any role at all for her image and her campaign? (For example, a Brazilian TV channel showed a report mentioning Bulgaria as the "poorest and most corrupt EU country" and linking Dilma Rousseff to that.)
I think that Dilma's probable victory will draw more attention to the fact that she will be the first woman president than anything else. A reminder that Brazil had a very popular president with a Czech last name (Kubitschek) in the 1950s.
But undoubtedly it will make Brazilians more curious about her family's origins in Bulgaria and probably inspire books and more studies on the subject.
But I don't think that this played a relevant role. Also a reminder that Jose Serra, her opponent, is a son of a poor Italian immigrant.
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Dilma will have to face the International Exchange War, a Cambio correction and most important USA Protectionism and Federal Reserve adjustments to the Dollar and Gold.
The Brazilian opposition with her Vice-President will tone her down and maybe she will begin to wear a dress and become a Brazilian women and not a street bar thug.
"Brazilian Political Analyst Joao Augusto de Castro Neves: Dilma Rousseff Will Not Be Lula's Medvedev"
HAHA! That's EXACTLY what she will be. She is Lula's biatch, make no mistake about it. And when a politician starts to deny something, it means it is the truth. Politicians always lie.