15 October 2014

Brazil Elections Take Two

After a tight first round of the Presidential Election here, the election will go to a second round on October 26. Results were in soon after polls closed because of universal electronic voting here and the results were quite surprising. Dilma Rousseff of the Partido Trabalhador (Workers' Party) came in first with 41.6% of votes counted. It wasn't surprising for her to come in first, she's long been the favorite, but neither was it a surprise that she didn't get through with only one round (requiring 50% of the vote). Dilma has been a favorite for quite awhile to run away with the election, but a recent scandal with Petrobras (the state oil company) and a faltering economy hurt her chances. The scandal with Petrobras is more or less an alleged exchange of campaign money for oil contracts.

Many suspected that the scandal and the economy provided an opportunity for Marina Silva of the Green Party to have a strong showing and possibly even finish in first in the first round. It came as a shock to most, then, when the center-right candidate, Aecio Neves of PSDB (Brazilian Social Democrat Party), came in second place with 33.5% of the votes. 

Lately, the news has been that the polls are much closer between Neves and Dilma and Monday polls were released that showed Neves ahead. More updates to come.

In other Latin America news, Evo Morales was re-elected this past Sunday to his third Presidential term in Bolivia (his second under the current constitution). The result of this has never been in doubt, but the election was surprising in that Evo received much higher support in the Eastern Lowlands than in previous election. During his first term and much of his second he faced stiff opposition from the media luna region (half moon, a region composed of several departments of eastern Bolivia) and even proposals for secession. His administration has received a good deal of praise from leftist, centrist, and right-wing media for his lowering of inequality, improving economic growth, and responsible governance, but the worry now seems to be whether he is laying the groundwork for post-Evo Bolivia or not. 

One interesting similarity between the two elections has been the general absence of policy debates. Most of the Brazilian and Bolivian opposition candidates have proposed a general continuation of the previous administration's policies, they simply claim that they could be administering the policies better. 

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