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With the end of Brazil’s elections approaching on October 26, the country’s smartphones are humming. Almost every group on WhatsApp, or ZapZap as Brazilians call it, has something to share about the second-round presidential candidates, incumbent Dilma Rousseff of the leftist PT and opposition rival Aécio Neves of the centrist PSDB. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been flooded with election-related videos and memes. Continue reading »

For a few days, it appeared that former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had disappeared from the campaign for re-election of his comrade and protégé, incumbent president Dilma Rousseff.

But with only five days left before the second-round run-off on October 26, he reappeared in fine form, ripping into rival candidate Aécio Neves of the centrist PSDB in a speech in Pernambuco, the only state in Brazil’s poor and politically important northeast where Dilma lost in the first round of the elections on Oct 6. Continue reading »

Like the country’s soap operas, Brazil’s presidential elections have been full of drama, improbable story lines and last-minute cliff hangers. Monday night was no different.

Just as Brazilians were beginning to wonder whether Aécio Neves of the centrist PSDB party could actually win this Sunday’s vote, a Datafolha poll showed President Dilma Rousseff ahead for the first time since the first round of elections on October 5. The results are still too close to call though, falling with the polling firm’s margin of error. Continue reading »

Brazil’s presidential election is heading for its second-round run-off on Sunday looking like the closest in a generation. As each side struggles for a breakthrough, the rhetoric is getting shrill.

Last week, it was the turn of Aécio Neves, the candidate of the pro-business opposition PSDB party, to exceed the limits of good taste. Angry over the negative campaign being run against him by his rival, the incumbent president Dilma Rousseff, he compared her rhetoric to the work of Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda. Continue reading »

Do Brazilian voters care whether their politicians are corrupt? More particularly, do they care about political scandal at Petrobras, the state-controlled but publicly traded oil group that is both national champion and national treasure, a cherished symbol of Brazilian potential and prowess?

If you believe the latest opinion polls they either do care, in spades, or they don’t, not one bit. Continue reading »

With Brazil’s 2014 election well under way, the ruling Workers’ Party is already unveiling its heavy artillery piece for the next election – Lula.

Incumbent president Dilma Rousseff, questioned whether she would assist her predecessor and mentor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva should he stand in 2018, said she “certainly would”. Continue reading »

The first round of voting in Brazil’s presidential elections is over and the incumbent Dilma Rousseff will face a centre right candidate Aécio Neves in the second round. Gideon Rachman discusses the differences between the candidates and what is at stake with Joe Leahy and Jonathan Wheatley

Campaigning for Brazil’s election run-off has begun again and so has the madness, it seems. While there are fewer clowns and footballers vying for votes at this stage, the country’s presidential candidates are already providing plenty of entertainment.

On Thursday, it was President Dilma Rousseff’s turn. On a visit to Brazil’s poorer northeast state of Bahia, home to many black and mixed-race Brazilians, Dilma tried to win over the locals by telling them she, too, was meio pardinha – a complicated concept in Brazil but one that could roughly be translated as “a little bit black”. Continue reading »

It was set to be one of the biggest massacres of Brazil’s election. On Thursday night Guido Mantega, finance minister, went head-to-head with Armínio Fraga, the former central banker who will take his job if Aécio Neves wins the presidency this month.

Mantega certainly has some explaining to do. The economy is expected to grow a measly 0.2 per cent this year, according to Brazil’s latest central bank survey. That is less than much of the developed and developing world. Continue reading »

The coalition of small parties behind Marina Silva are edging closer to supporting Aécio Neves of the pro-business PSDB party in the second round-run-off of Brazil’s presidential election.

The Brazilian Socialist Party, the leading party behind the candidacy of Ms Silva, who dropped out after placing third in the first round of voting on Sunday, on Wednesday became the second grouping in her coalition to say it was opting for Mr Neves.

The party said it would support Mr Neves, who placed second in the first round, on condition that “an agreement would be discussed and signed concerning policies, considering the urgency to create the necessary environment for a new cycle of development”. Continue reading »

What went wrong? With the close of the first round of voting in Brazil’s presidential election on Sunday, the two candidates going into the second round, incumbent president Dilma Rousseff of the Worker’s party (PT) and Aécio Neves of the more market-friendly PSDB must now explain their poor performances in their home territories.

Dilma Rousseff, who started her political life in Porto Alegre, the capital of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, saw Neves win there with 39.5 per cent of the vote to her 37.6 per cent. Meanwhile Neves, who was governor of the mining state of Minas Gerais from 2003 to 2010, lost there to Dilma, by 43.8 per cent to 39.8 per cent of the vote. Continue reading »

With just over two weeks to go until Brazil’s election run-off, the country is bracing for one of the most acrimonious political disputes in its history: an almighty battle between the “ghosts of the past” and the “monsters of the present”.

President Dilma Rousseff has warned Brazilians that the opposition will take the country back to the dark days of high unemployment and poverty. “When we take a step forward in life, we need to know how to preserve what we have achieved,” explains one PT party campaign video. “We can’t let the ghosts of the past come back and take everything we’ve worked for.” Continue reading »

Marina Silva has gone from being a combatant in Brazil’s presidential election to being a king or queen maker.

The question is, will she rise to the challenge or back off as she did in 2010?

Readers may remember that when the former senator and environmentalist came third in the last election in 2010 with 19 per cent of the vote – much as she did this year with 21 per cent of the vote – she declared neutrality, declining to support either the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) or the opposition PSDB in the second-round run-off. Continue reading »

South America’s economies are slowing. US interest rates are rising and commodity prices are starting to drop. The region will grow a mere 1.2 per cent this year, according to the World Bank’s latest forecasts. Worse, “it is not clear whether the slowdown is bottoming out,” the bank suggests. That is bad enough, and South America has been through such cycles before. But adding to the gloom is what this might mean for the region’s recent reduction in inequality – which, by the way, has been a globally unique phenomenon. Is it all about to go into reverse? Continue reading »

What will happen in the second round of Brazil’s presidential election? The race has been thrown wide open by the surprisingly strong showing in the first round of Aécio Neves, the pro-business candidate of the centre-right PSDB. He won 33.6 per cent of the vote, well ahead of his highest standing in opinion polls just before Sunday’s election, of 27 per cent support. He enters the second round 8 percentage points behind the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff of the leftwing PT, who got 41.6 per cent of the vote, compared with 46 per cent in the latest poll.

Source: Thomson Reuters

With Aécio on the way up and Dilma on the way down, investors cannot contain their excitement. The Bovespa equities index was up 7 per cent in the first half hour of trading on Monday morning in São Paulo. Continue reading »