The second Panoramas Roundtable discussion of the 2014-2015 school year took place on October 2, with contributors Ana Lúcia Gomes, Bruno Hoepers and Barry Ames. The topic of discussion was the upcoming presidential election’s top three candidates: incumbent Dilma Rousseff, Marina Silva of the socialist party, and Aecio Neves. All three panelists discussed the political landscape of Brazil setting up a structural frame of reference, before moving on to prior corruption scandals and the potential influence of the new middle class.
Gomes was the first contributor to the discussion and she showed a short film about how the Brazilian congress works and gave a chronological sequence of events about what had happened leading up to the election, including the death of socialist candidate Eduardo Campos and the breaking of the Petrobras scandal.1 She also showed pre-election polls from Datafolha indicating the rise and fall of each candidate and how these polls indicate that Dilma will most likely win re-election.
Ames discussed how center left candidates, such as Dilma, are usually elected in presidential elections in Brazil. He noted that it is unusual for right wing candidates to acquire a strong following since the right was responsible for the military dictatorship in the 70s and 80s. He also noted that candidates who win from small parties, such as Marina Silva, would have a hard time sticking to her party’s values since she would have to make deals with almost all other parties within Congress. A large party, such as Dilma’s Workers Party (PT), does not have to persuade as many people and therefore can more easily pass bills that are important to that party.
While Dilma’s PT is one of the largest political parties in Brazil, Ames mentioned that many people are fed up with the constant scandal and corruption that plagues it. One of the most persistent complaints is the mensalão corruption scandal which happened under the previous President, Lula da Silva. Constituents are angered that Lula’s cabinet paid Congress members large amounts of money each month to persuade them to vote in favor of monthly stipends for the poor known as Bolsa Família. While the Bolsa Familia was a highly successful social welfare program of the government that helped many people living in poverty, the way in which this issue was handled in the Lula administration left Brazilian voters unhappy about the rampant, and institutionalized, corruption.
While many voters in Brazil are informed about candidates and current issues in the government, as panelist Bruno Hoepers noted, many people in Brazil are also uninformed and easily manipulated. He gave the example of a family member who asked him who they should vote for in order for another candidate to lose. Whether this means a voter is uninformed was a question for Hoepers to ponder though he firmly believes voters are persuadable, and with so many candidates to choose form, this can make a difference in presidential elections.
The panelists ended the discussion with questions from the audience and speculated whether Dilma Rousseff would win re-election after all of the alleged scandals leading up to election day. If the panelists were in agreement about anything, it is that they all believe that Dilma will definitely win re-election and that large, center left parties will continue to be in control.
1 Paulo Roberto Costa, a former executive at the semi-public Brazilian multinational energy corporation, accused more than 40 politicians of involvement in a vast kickback scheme.The list reportedly includes a minister, three state governors, six senators and dozens of congressmen from President Rousseff’s PT and several coalition allies. The beneficiaries are alleged to have pocketed 3% of the value of contracts signed with Petrobras in return for supporting the government in congressional votes. Information taken from: