February 24, 2010
Brazil’s ruling party picks successor to Lula

Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian presidential candidate. Photo Flickr user Joka Madruga.

Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party (PT) nominated Dilma Roussef on February 20 as its presidential candidate for the upcoming October 3 general election.

Rousseff, a 62-year-old economist and former guerrilla leader, was personally nominated by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and endorsed at a party conference. She is currently Lula’s chief of staff and has also served as Brazil’s energy minister.

According to Brazilian electoral law, the popular outgoing president is unable to stand for a third consecutive term.

Rousseff has not yet stood for public office and, according to recent polls, she trails five to 10 percentage points behind her main rival, the conservative governor of São Paulo state, José Serra. However, the gap is narrowing.

If elected, Rousseff has said she will maintain the strict fiscal discipline that has underpinned Brazil’s recent growth and economic stability. She has also pledged to continue working with the 11 parties that make up Lula’s current coalition government.

Bloggers have commented on the nomination:

From Dilma 2010, a blog in support of the Workers’ Party presidential candidate [translated by Worldfocus from Portuguese]:

Is it possible to elect a woman to the Brazilian presidency? The Brazilian people are already mulling over the possibility given that Dilma Rousseff is now the PT’s candidate and has Lula’s support. His government is widely recognized to be the best this country has ever had, and Rousseff has played a role in that success as the president’s colleague, both as a party member and as a minister.

From Carlos Selonke‘s blog, commentary on Brazil:

The coming weeks and months will give us a better clue on what to expect of Ms. Rousseff. Lula’s support will be crucial, but she will have to emerge eventually and expose herself to Brazil’s voters and the media. While she can safely assume to win in the poor Northeast, a region where Lula is considered a saint, she will have to explain to middle-class voters in the populous Southeast how she pretends to push urgently needed reforms with a party behind her that, despite the triumph of pragmatism during the Lula years, at times seems dangerously wedged to ideology.

From Post-Western World, issues to watch in 2010:

José Serra or Dilma Rousseff? The candidates have a lot in common: They largely agree on economic policy. They are both surprisingly uncharismatic, but quite competent and easy to underestimate. Ms. Rousseff, Lula’s chosen heiress, is more likely to continue Lula’s South-South diplomacy that aimed to position Brazil as the “Leader of the South”. Serra, on the other hand, would realign Brazil more with the United States and Europe, yet maintaining ties to other emerging powers. Under Serra, Iran’s Ahmadinejad will have to skip Brasília on his next visit to South America, and relations to Venezuela’s Chavez are likely to turn sour. Neither Serra nor Rousseff will be able to achieve Lula’s global stardom. Nonetheless, Brazil is a force to reckon with: Home to the world’s largest carbon sink, the Amazon, Brazil’s stance on climate change will be crucial, and only Brazil is able to salvage democracy in an increasingly divided South America.

– James Mathews

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