Let’s look at our behavior just prior to and after the recent presidential election in Brazil. The campaign was quite acrimonius and partisans on both sides contributed to “tabloidization” of the discourse. Some of this continues as the PTistas lean on the supposed right wingers (real ones, too) for their snide remarks and discrimination (some real, some alleged) against the nordestinos. The Tucanos continue to cling to the moralization discourse and group Dilma, Lula and their acolytes in the broad classification of self-serving thievery. I suppose all of this is to be expected.
Independent of the “wicked” accusations flying back and forth, business goes on and decisions are being made on a daily basis. We like to say that new administrations in Brazil shake the coconut trees and all the monkeys pretty much fall off their branches, only to scramble up again in the hope of achieving a higher posting or at least maintaining position. So, new ministers and new staff will be appointed with the required jockeying and justifications. It remains to be seen if Dilma will have the political fortitude to promote a reform that would reduce the number of Ministries and hopefully reduce federal expenditures.
Dilma has repeated the hackneyed rhetoric of bringing everyone together. In reality, we know that this is not likely to happen. She is not a unifying figure nor does she have a program. Nonetheless, Dilma seeks to leave a legacy. Moreover, her mentor, Lula, currently hints at wanting to run for president again in 2018, when he will be 73. Given the tight margin of this year’s race, a strong performance by the PT will be needed to justify another 4 years in power. It is interesting to compare Bahia and Minas. Aecio lost Minas and the campaign staff has been held responsible. As the native son, he should have carried the state, especially as he was trying to make hay with his supposed 90% approval rating on leaving the governorship. Fernando Pimentel, Dilma’s former Minister of Development, Industry and Commerce (MDIC) easily defeated Pimenta da Veiga for Minas governor. Veiga admittedly was a weak candidate and in retrospect it is a bit hard to fathom the choice. In a previous blog, I stated that perhaps Aecio was lucky to lose as he does not have to face the negative economic tide that Dilma has had a hand in creating. However, by not carrying Minas, his position is totally subject to the PT line: Quem conhece Aecio, nao vota nele (Those who know him, don’t vote for him).
Bahia, on the other hand – our neighboring state to the north and east – also has solid political traditions. After years of domination by the traditional oligarchy (Antonio Carlos Magalhaes and family), a younger generation of leftist and populists have emerged. Gilberto Gil, the musician is one example but he supported Marina in the first round. More important is Jacques Wagner who was governor and helped elect his successor, Ruy Costa. Wagner, in turn, is being vented as the new president of Petrobras and one who can clean up the company and move it from the crime pages back to a successful business story. Independently, or under the tutelage of Wagner, Costa has promised to reduce the number of State Secretaries and to work in a very transparent fashion. Moreover, Dilma, reportedly is resting after a busy campaign at the Aratu Naval Base in Bahia and meeting with Wagner. So, given his success in Bahia, possible handover of Petrobras, and favorable support, he becomes an alternative candidate in PT should Lula’s health fail. While Wagner came out of the oil workers union, he has never been considered a radical and has praised Lula for favoring both rich and poor while at the same time extending recognition to the PSDB for achieving economic stability and fiscal responsibility. So if Wagner has Dilma’s ear and can maneuver within the PT, he mail be able to rival Aecio in 2018. It is almost certain that Dilma will use combating corruption as her shield against economic criticism and resurrecting Petrobras with Wagner at the helm may be her strong suit.
Much is unpredictable, but it is certain that 2015 will be a major challenge and the question is how Dilma will select her friends and allies to attempt to meet her responsibilities.