Foreign Policy Blogs

The Race to the Presidency

Brazil’s success in diplomacy, international commerce, and becoming a world player have been in part dependent on President Lula’s success during his administration. Now, with an election coming up this year, there is a possibility that the tides will change and Brazil may change its course with new leadership.

The Race to the Presidency

José Serra, the governor of São Paulo, had a strong lead in the polls until the new year, when Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s Chief of Staff and handpicked successor, pulled ahead and narrowed the gap between the two candidates. Even amongst controversy about illegal campaigning, Dilma seems to have gained an edge. While she lacks Lula’s charisma, she shares his politics and his success, by proxy, which could help her when the campaign season begins in earnest.

Meanwhile, Marina Silva, the Green Party candidate, has begun her campaign by reaching out to young voters. Like her fellow PV member Fernando Gabeira, she turned to the Internet for her campaign. She created a website and blog, complete with videos, photos, and press clips, as well as a Twitter account.  There, she’s been posting news and also reaching out directly to voters, a wise move considering Brazilian politicians have been jumping on the Twitter bandwagon in the past year to connect to their constituents. She and Dilma Rousseff also spoke at Campus Party, a huge Internet and technology convention in São Paulo at the end of January.

Serra has come under fire for how the state has handled some of the worst weather in years, including a month and a half of rain in the capital, flooding throughout the state, over 70 deaths, blackouts, and property destruction. Paulistas have protested the government’s sluggish response to aiding flood victims, and yesterday police attacked peaceful protesters complaining about the government’s lack of support of their flooded neighborhood. Given that São Paulo is a key state in the elections, how Serra responds to the crisis may affect his chances of getting elected.

The campaign season will be critical for the candidates to prove their track records to voters and to assure them that they can continue Brazil’s economic and international success. Though it appears it will ultimately come down to Serra and Dilma, Marina Silva provides an interesting alternative who could potentially take votes away from both main candidates.



Rachel Glickhouse

Rachel Glickhouse attended the George Washington University, where she studied Latin American Studies and Spanish at the Elliott School of International Affairs. She studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She spent two years living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after graduating in 2007. She now lives and works in New York.