Rousseff confirmed as presidential candidate
BRASILIA — Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party formally nominated President Dilma Rousseff yesterday to run for re-election in October in what is shaping up to be its toughest race since winning power in 2002.
Rousseff’s popularity is gradually falling because of Brazil’s high cost of living and slowing economy, and she was jeered at the opening game of the soccer World Cup last week.
Rousseff survived massive protests last year by Brazilians demanding better health, education and public transport services instead of the costly stadiums built for the World Cup.
She is still favoured to win re-election in a second-round runoff, though her lead has narrowed in recent months, according to opinion polls. “We face a challenge because the quality of life has improved in Brazil and when that happens in a country, its people demand more and improved quality,” Rousseff said in a speech to a cheering party convention.
The Workers’ Party plans to campaign on the gains in social welfare and income distribution made by Brazil in the last decade. Under its rule, 35 million people have climbed out of poverty. This continues to be the party’s greatest achievement to date.
Rousseff’s main challenger, Aécio Neves of the centrist Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB) party and a former governor of Brazil’s second-richest state, is running on a more business-friendly platform aimed at restoring investment and growth to Brazil’s once-booming economy.
Brazil’s stock market has risen in recent months on investor hopes that Neves could possibly spring a surprise and defeat Rousseff in a run-off.
‘Very difficult election’
“It will be a very difficult election, but, wait, the game has not even kicked off yet,” said party founder and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Lula lambasted affluent Brazilians for wanting to cut back social programmes and run Brazil for the benefit of the richest one-third. He also blamed them for the obscene chants directed at Rousseff at the World Cup stadium in Sao Paulo.
Rousseff said she would not be cowered by the insults.
“We will turn those stones into bricks to build low-cost housing,” she said.
During the convention Workers’ Party delegates, 800 in total, unanimously condemned the insults that thousands of Brazilian fans hurled during the opening of the World Cup on June 12.
The President of the Workers’ Party Rui Falcão denounced the insults and said those fans had “shot themselves in the foot” as Rousseff received nothing but support and solidarity afterwards.
Falcão emphasized the need to reform the current political system in Brazil and carry out a democratization of the local press.
“The powerful media companies are trying to maintain the actual situation in which the high levels of concentration prevents there being plurality and diversity in the press,” said Falcão.
When Rousseff took office on January 1, 2011, her status as an economist encouraged many foreign investors. But contrary to what was expected she showed much more skill in politics than she did maintaining the Brazilian economy’s momentum.
After growing by 7.5 percent in 2010, the last year that Lula was in power, economic growth under Rousseff fell to 2.7 percent in 2011, one percent in 2012 and then recovered slightly in 2013 to reach 2.5 percent.
Herald with Reuters