Brazil after Lula and the new President and Dilma Rousseff
Lula deserves a great amount of credit for all his administration achieved during the last eight years. Before him, former president FHC came in and introduced stability and the possibility of economic growth. Lula, in his own time, was able to realize the benefits of the policies he inherited and made them better. Some of this progress is quantified into the 20 million Brazilians who have emerged from poverty and into the middle classes since 2003. Lula has a unique story that helps shape the “brazil brand,” and at the same time, remind the poor people in Brazil that they also have a voice. He has finally helped turn the page of the country and bring it into a new chapter.
Dilma Rousseff, chosen by Lula and now the first woman president of Brazil, also has her own unique style. Many still do not believe she will be able to deliver and keep the country on its current path. The new president lacks experience and charisma (both attributes that Serra has—Dilma’s former competing presidential candidate), which are qualities Lula has in abundance. Ms.Rousseff must also acknowledge that the main reason she was elected because of Lula’s support, which is a fact the new president seems to accept with great respect. Voters chose Dilma because she represents continuity to her predecessor’s work. And that is what she intends to do.
During Ms. Rousseff’s first several months, domestic and foreign investors will most likely be cautious until they are able to know in which direction Dilma will lead the country. She has already said many times what she intends to do during her campaign, and her words have been echoed over and over by her representatives in conferences all over the country. But investors and business leaders still wait. During her first month as president, the most meaningful signs of how Dilma will govern have been made by her choice of 37 ministers. Amongst these choices, some of them are Alexandre Tombini from the Central Bank’s board, now governor of the Central Bank (decision which pleased investors looking for signals of economic orthodoxy). The popular Antonio Palocci, former Finance Minister, now taken away from the center role and made chief of staff. Thirdly, there is Guido Mantega, who is keeping his post as Finance Minister. So far, President Dilma has generated no reasons for major complaint. With so little time in power and so little experience, it becomes hard to judge and foresee the president’s ideal in relation to the country. For now, the president has also clearly expressed her position towards the support of human rights (position that Lula constantly contradicted himself).
Dilma Rousseff certainly did not seem prepared during the presidential debates and, yes, she lacks experience, but the new president has shown she has potential and the heart to govern. During Dilma’s first year as president, she should expect much pressure from critics and members of the oppositions. For these and other reasons, it is expected that she will not take on major issues nor make audacious moves. In general, Dilma has an administration composed of experienced professionals and politicians who have been around for many years. Dilma’s team will assist her well and improve their understanding by learning from minor mistakes along the way. In another four years, Dilma will most likely have done well and probably try to get reelected again. By then, the “experience” issue will fall on her competitors’ shoulders. It is also foreseeable that during her administration, the country will continue to grow economically while expanding the middle class. We just hope that, while allowing growth, Dilma will prepare the country to sustain such progress for the near future.
“Brazil’s new president: Coming down to earth.” The Economist,
1 Jan 2011.
by Jose Ricardo Aguilar
University of Bridgeport
10 Jan 2011
Revised on March 10, 2011