Brazil Holds Breath For Historic Elections Today
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Brazil Holds Breath For Historic Elections Today

São Paulo : Brazil | Oct 03, 2010 at 5:49 AM PDT
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Today marks the presidential elections in Brazil as part of the country's general election. In this election, Brazilian voters will choose the successor to current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, of the Workers' Party.

President Lula is not eligible for re-election, since he served two terms being elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.This will mark the first time since the first presidential election after the military dictatorship that he will not run for President.

The candidates of the two major political groups of the country are Lula's Chief of Staff, Dilma Rousseff, of the ruling centre-left democratic socialist/social democratic Workers' Party (PT), and São Paulo State Governor,José Serra, from the centre-right opposition coalition formed mainly by centrist/Third Way Social Democratic Party (PSDB), and the right-wing Democrats (DEM). If she wins, Rousseff will become the seventh Latin American woman elected President, after Nicaragua's Violeta Chamorro in 1990, Ecuador'sRosalía Arteaga Serrano in 1997, Panama's Mireya Moscoso in 1999, Chile's Michelle Bachelet in 2006,Argentina's Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2007, and Costa Rica's Laura Chinchilla in 2010.

Either candidate, if elected is likely to maintain a primary budget surplus to make public debt payments and reduce the ratio of debt to GDP. Some analysts believe Serra would contain expenditures more effectively. Rousseff, in the other hand, favors a bigger role for state enterprises in the economy, which could reduce participation by private firms in sectors such as banking, oil and gas.

Analysts believe that Rousseff will continue Lula's foreign policy, boosting ties with developing nations, pushing for reform of multilateral bodies and lobbying for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. Serra would likely cool ties with Lula's left-wing allies in Latin America, which could affect energy investments in both Bolivia and Venezuela. He could also take a harder line in trade disputes with Argentina and Mercosur. According to Mark Weisbrot, in an op-ed published by The Guardian Unlimited on January 29, 2010, if the centre-right candidate wins the race, it "would really be a huge win for the [U.S.] State Department." He argues that "while U.S. officials under both Bush and Obama have maintained a friendly posture toward Brazil, it is obvious that they deeply resent the changes in Brazilian foreign policy and its independent stances with regard to the Middle East, Iran and elsewhere."

Another main candidate is Marina Silva, Lula's former Minister of Environment. She is the candidate for the Green Party (PV), which she joined on late 2009 after leaving the PT, which she helped establishing in the 1980s. She has obtained international recognition as a defender of the Amazon Rainforest, but is less known in her native Brazil, being unable to obtain more than 10% of support in opinion polls.

Ciro Gomes, former governor of Ceará and Minister for National Integration during Lula's first cabinet, was a possible candidate for the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB). The ruling centre-left group was worried that his bid could take votes from Rousseff, and thus, on April 27, PSB declined to launch his candidacy in order to support her. Gomes, which had appeared on third place in polls from May 2009 to April 2010, was also a presidential candidate in 1998 and 2002, when he had a poor result after making sexist remarks and struggling to control his temper. He was a proponent of restructuring Brazil's debt.

Another pre-candidate was Heloísa Helena from the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL). She is a former Senator for Alagoas and founded the Socilism and Freedom Party after she was expelled from the Workers' Party in 2003 for criticizing its move to the centre. She was the only candidate which could potentially abandon current market-friendly economic policies.However, she decided not to run for President and try to win back her Senate seat. On June 30, 2010, Plínio de Arruda Sampaio was chosen as PSOL's candidate.

There were speculations that PSOL would form a broad coalition with Silva. As the media printed such news, the United Socialist Workers' Party announced that if this coalition was formed, it would launch the candidacy of its president José Maria de Almeida. However, a resolution approved by members of PSOL determined that the coalition would be formed if PV gave up its alliances with the Lula administration, PSDB, DEM, and neoliberal stances. This resolution would make it very hard for the two parties to ally, since PV is led by José Sarney's son Sarney Filho and Silva herself has said that her candidacy could not be perceived as opposing Lula. Another faction of PV, led by Fernando Gabeira, is explicitly in favor of an alliance with PSDB, which left very few people in the party able to accept the proposal. As Rede Brasil Atual reported, "the coalition move[d] more by the desire of Green Party pre-candidate, Marina Silva, and Socialism and Freedom Party President, Heloísa Helena, than by aspirations of both parties".

Five other candidates from smaller parties are included in this election, bringing the number of presidential candidates to a total of nine. They are Ivan Pinheiro from the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), José Maria de Almeida from the United Socialist Workers' Party (PSTU), Rui Costa Pimenta from the Workers' Cause Party (PCO), José Maria Eymael from the Christian Social Democratic Party (PSDC), and Levy Fidélix from the Brazilian Labour Renewal Party (PRTB).According to the Supreme Electoral Court's guidelines, they are not able to participate in televised debates, since their parties are not represented in the lower house of the National Congress.

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ryangeneral is based in Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines, and is a Reporter for Allvoices.
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