Foreign Policy Blogs

Changing Brazil’s Democracy Without an Election

Brazil is often seen by its own people as a fallen economic angel. Once the great success story of an emerging market titan and key member of the BRICS, Brazil is now returning to the poor economic conditions it was stuck in twenty-five years ago. Many Brazilians were proud to see their country break out from a history of credit devaluations and transform itself into one of the only countries that successfully weathered the 2007–08 economic crisis, better than most of their European and North American counterparts.

Today, protests against the government are fueled by the realization that the opportunity to change Brazil has been squandered. Corrupt practices by large industry leaders and the ruling political party were exposed after President Dilma Rousseff narrowly won her second term as president. This scandal came about after years of pouring money into national infrastructure projects that were designed to satisfy the needs of foreign companies and the International Olympic Committee over those benefiting the citizens of a democratic Brazil.

The August 2015 protest is the fourth mass protest that has taken place pushing for the Rousseff’s impeachment. While there is no legal mechanism to force her impeachment, her political party’s connection to a scandal linked to one of Brazil’s biggest oil companies has led to her having one of the lowest approval ratings of any elected official in the world. While the strength of Brazil’s economy has dwindled, peaceful protests and the actions by some in Brazil’s activist community to expose the scandal have shown Brazil to be a country that holds values like fairness and democracy close to its heart.

The catalyst for the first wave of protest movements was Brazil hosting the 2014 World Cup. Many in Brazil resented the fact that the country’s love of the beautiful game would take away from the government’s ability to look after the country’s more basic needs. Funds went to various international agencies in order to put on sporting events and were given precedence over building up Brazil and its people. The government’s actions sparked anti-FIFA protests, some of which ended with the deaths of several protesters. The recent corruption scandal and the upcoming Olympic Games has done nothing more than fan the flames of almost universal outrage among all Brazil’s political factions, placing the PT party in jeopardy and getting even the once-loved former president, Lula Da Silva, into legal trouble.

With the 2016 Olympic Games coming up, mass protests could reach such an extreme so as to lead to the end of the PT party in Brazil and perhaps even the Olympics as beloved “brand.” That would be more than acceptable if it meant Brazil would become a more democratic country. The hit the games can have on the democratic system has scared, and perhaps will continue to scare, some away from bidding for the Olympic Games.

Nevertheless, a number of cities and countries still view hosting the games as an appropriate and responsible idea even when they are burdened by massive amounts of debt. Sure, Boston wisely backed out of the most recent bid process. But Toronto is currently considering a bid despite the fact that Ontario has the highest amount of sub-sovereign debt in the world. Los Angeles is also under consideration even though California has the second highest sub-sovereign debt in the world, second only to Ontario. Along with the economic conditions of candidate cities being ignored, investigations into allegations of corrupt practices are being currently conducted against IOC officials. It seems that some will just never learn.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

Contact

americasdiplomats_socialmediaasset