Friday, 27 August 2010

Dummies Guide to the Brazilian Presidential Candidates

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is Brazil's answer to Lady Di, without the nice dresses and eye liner.  She was labelled the 'people's princess' while he enjoys the title 'pai do povo' (people's dad) and, like her, he has a massive following in his home country and cult status internationally.
Jose Serra hanging out in the juice bar in Catete

In a few weeks though, after two consecutive terms, Lula's eight year reign as Brazil's head of state and government comes to an end...and someone has to fill his big empty shoes.  The voting on October 3rd will also appoint hundreds of other governmental positions which I can't even begin to understand. (I told you this was the dummies guide!). 

Suffice it to say, campaigns are a go-go, embellishing every possible thing with the smiling, Sunday-best faces of their candidates, along with their number.  In my ten second wait to cross the Rua do Catete for a mango juice today, at least 3 campaign cars drove by, blaring out samba from massive box-speakers unbalancing on their roof.  I then had to dodge rampant flag-wavers and flyer-hander-outers before ducking into the juice bar.

Anyway, tonight I actually watched the entire political broadcast programming that came on after the Globo News.  This probably says more about the crap that was on Net than any real enthusiasm for getting informed, but it does enable me to give you a quick synopsis of the main Presidential candidates and their messages. 

DILMA ROUSSEF (PT / Working Party)

She's Lula's bitch and she's currently rocking the polls with a 20 point lead.  She looks like she might become Brazil's first woman president, a fact that her advocates are pushing big-time, because really it doesn't seem like there is much else to talk about.  Her popularity is mostly due to the fact that she's the next best thing to Lula himself.  Worryingly, she has recently been very ill with lymphatic cancer although doctors last week assured us she was fully cured.

Her campaign message is 'Brazil has changed...let's keep it changing", with an emphasis on all the wonderful things, like the 'family grant' that the PT has achieved in the last 8 years. Not much is said about her specific role on any of these achievements (and in fact she was criticized for over using the 'we' verb conjugation in the recent presidential web debate), but I guess as Mines and Energy Minister and then Chief of Staff under Lula, she must have done something

JOSE SERRA (PSDP / Social Democrat)

In sharp contrast to Dilma's underwhelming experience, (Herman Munster lookalike) Serra has been Secretary of State, Congressman, Senator, Minister of Planning and Minister of Health, Mayor of Sao Paolo and Governor of Sao Paulo State.  Nonetheless, he has not Lula, and is lagging in second place according to the polls.

(Before I went on holiday I actually saw Jose Serra at the same juice bar on Rua do Catete.  At the time I had no idea who he was, but figured by the crowd of paparrazzi following him that he was worth snapping a picture of)

Anyway, his is a hard sell to a population so enamoured with their incumbent leader.  His main propaganda message is continuity.  He promises to keep things that are working, even if they are PT initiatives, fix things that aren't working, and accelerate the things that are moving too slowly.  The rest of his ad tells us all about the wonderful things he has done in his career like building hospitals, pushing through generic drug approval and everything short of walking on water.

MARINA SILVA (PV / Green Party)

She was illiterate as a child and started her professional life as a domestic servant, so she's come a long way.  She is a well respected environmental advocate and was the Environmental Minister under Lula until her resignation in 2008. In 2009 she switched parties to the Green Party.

Her main campaign message is improving education, but she's currently coming a distant third in the polls.

Bring it on...


  1. Good overview ! The other posts to be filled are: Governor, Senator, Federal Congress, State Congresses (that is, all things you can vote for except for mayor and city council). And Herman Munster is fine although Serra is normally considered a dead ringer for Mr. Burns.

  2. @Bussab
    Had to google Mr Burns but TOO TRUE! Ha Ha! Thanks for the info re the other positions!

  3. Thanks for this. I posted a link of it to my latest blog post.