28 March 2018/Brazilian President Michel Temer Sounds “Starting Gun” for Presidential Campaign

Brazilian President Michel Temer Sounds “Starting Gun” for Presidential Campaign

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Temer is under a legal cloud and may be prosecuted.  Finance Minister Henrique Meireilles may run to succeed Temer.  However, Temer and his administration are extremely unpopular.  Former President Ignacio Lula da Silva has a large lead in the polls, but may not be able to run, already having been convicted of corruption.  Lula is appealing.  Without Lula in the presidential race, it becomes a donnybrook.  The two candidates with the best chance of winning right now, according to recent polls, are Jair Bolsonaro and Marina Silva.  Bolsonaro, a controversial right-wing populist, is running in second place behind Lula. However, Silva may be able to beat him in the second round of the presidential election.  Several other well known candidates are also competing, but are lagging way behind in the polls.

US News & World Report, 28 March 2018, Brazil Cabinet Shuffle Marks Informal Start of Election Race

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Extract: More than one third of President Michel Temer’s cabinet will resign over the next week to campaign for their Congressional seats in the October general election, presidential aides said on Wednesday.

Temer himself plans to run for president though that will depend on whether the leader’s high disapproval rate falls as the economy gathers steam, according to two aides, who were not authorized to speak to the media.

The exodus of 11 ministers includes Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles who is expected to quit by Tuesday to announce that he is joining the ruling Brazilian Democratic Movement party (MDB) and could become Temer’s running mate or bid for president himself if Temer does not run, the aides said.

While he had not announced his plans, Temer said he could run in a radio interview on Wednesday, “because the government needs a candidate who defends its achievements” in recovering Latin America’s biggest economy from its worst recession.

He said Meirelles would also be “very able” for the job.

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Temer, 77, who came to power in 2016 when President Dilma Rousseff was impeached, has to decide by a party convention in June whether he is a viable contender to keep the top job.

If Temer’s approval ratings does not improve by then, former banking executive and central bank governor Meirelles would be the government’s presidential candidate, two Temer aides told Reuters.  For more, please see the hyperlink below:

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-03-28/brazil-cabinet-shuffle-marks-informal-start-of-election-race-aides

Ignacio Lula da Silva And Polling Data

Al Jazeera, 25 March 2018, Lula: Brazil’s Schrodinger candidate

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 Extract:  According to recent polls from Datafolha and CNT/MDA, Lula is a clear leader.However – and where the first possible dramatic plot twist comes in – he might be in jail while running as a candidate. Adding yet another layer of complexity, regardless of whether he is in jail or not, no one knows if Lula will be able to be on the ballot, or take office if he were to win.

The former president has been condemned for corruption changes linked to the large-scale Lava Jato (“Car Wash”) investigation. He is currently appealing the 12-year prison sentence and has denied all wrongdoings.

According to Brazilian electoral laws, particularly the “Clean Record Law” (Lei da Ficha Limpa) – which then President Lula himself sanctioned in 2010 -, a condemnation for crimes such as corruption and money laundering prohibits individuals from holding office. However, as long as there are pending recourses, the law allows individuals to register their candidacy and campaign normally.

When Datafolha asked the questioned “in your opinion, should Lula [sic] be able to run in this election?”, the division among Brazilians on Lula becomes evident: in a technical tie, 51 percent said he should not be able to participate in the election, and 47 percent said he should (two percent did not know/answer).   For more, please see the hyperlink below:

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/lula-brazil-schrodinger-candidate-180325083628432.html

Business Insider, 3 March 2018, BRAZIL: Lula Still Leads Opinion Poll For Presidential Elections, Says CNT/MDA

Extract: Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva still leads spontaneous vote intention for October’s presidential election, despite losing ground to other potential candidates, according to an electoral survey conducted by CNT/MDA.

The Workers Party (PT) center-left leader has 18.6% of vote intention, from 20.2% in the survey of September 2017. Lula is trailed by the far-right representative Jair Bolsonaro, with 12.3% of the votes, from 10.9% in September. Ciro Gomes comes third on the list, climbing two positions, reaching 1.7%, from 1.2% six months ago.

Geraldo Alckmin, governor of São Paulo state, appears in fourth place, with 1.4% of the voting intentions, from 1.2% before, while President Michel Temer appears in the last (seventh) place, with 0.4%.

http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/interestrates/brazil-lula-still-leads-opinion-poll-for-presidential-elections-says-cnt-mda-1018181267

Reuters, 6 March 2018, Lula would easily win Brazil’s October election: poll

Extract: In a runoff vote against right-wing congressman Jair Bolsonaro, the MDA polls found, Lula would take 44 percent of the vote against 26 percent for his opponent.

If Lula is barred by courts from running for the presidency, the poll found that Bolsonaro would face environmentalist and former senator Marina Silva in a second-round runoff, which takes place in Brazil if no single candidate wins a majority of votes on the first ballot.

Bolsonaro and Marina Silva are polling within the survey’s margin of error in a theoretical runoff, MDA found, a situation repeated in other likely second-round scenarios absent Lula.

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-politics-poll/lula-would-easily-win-brazils-october-election-poll-idUSKCN1GI2B0

Brazzil.com, 27 March 2018, Appeals Court Confirms Lula’s Conviction for Corruption Barring Him from Running for President

Extract: Appeals court judges in Brazil on Monday unanimously upheld an earlier decision to reject ex-Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s appeal against a conviction on corruption charges.

The three judges at the lower appeals court in Porto Alegre unanimously rejected a final procedural objection raised by lawyers of the former leftist president to the initial motion, meaning the conviction stands.

The law states that Lula should be barred from running for office, despite leading early polls ahead of the October 7 election.

Under Brazilian law, once all motions related to the first appeal are exhausted, the defendant can be ordered to start serving his sentence.

But Lula has already filed a pre-emptive habeas corpus petition with the Supreme Federal Tribunal and cannot be jailed until justices rule on it, which they are scheduled to do on April 4.

The former president was convicted in 2017 of trading political favors with construction company OAS in return for the promise of a beachfront apartment. The construction company was seeking contracts with state-controlled oil giant Petrobras.

Reports suggest Lula could start a prolonged court battle, leaving the ex-president temporarily free to campaign for the October election.

Lula’s defense still has one more motion it can file with the same court. He could be allowed to continue to appeal his conviction to higher courts while serving his sentence and then also to run in the election.

On Monday, Lula told several thousand people at a rally in Francisco Beltrão in Paraná state that the charges against him were trumped up and designed to keep him from regaining the presidency.

“I don’t have to prove my innocence,” he said. “They are the ones who have to prove my guilt!”  For more, please see the hyperlink below:

http://brazzil.com/appeals-court-confirms-lulas-conviction-for-corruption-barring-him-from-running-for-president/

Bloomberg, 26 March 2018, Lula Presidential Bid Less Likely After Brazil Court Ruling

Extract: The court ruling means that Lula would fall foul of Brazil’s so-called “clean slate” electoral law were he to register as a candidate for October’s elections. According to this rule, no one convicted of a criminal offense upheld on appeal can run for elected office for at least eight years. However, the final decision on Lula’s eligibility rests with the country’s top electoral court, which can only rule on the matter once candidates are registered in August. There have also been numerous exceptions to the “clean slate” law since its introduction in 2010.  For more, please see the hyperlink below:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-26/court-ruling-leaves-lula-ineligible-to-stand-in-brazil-elections

Marina Silva

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Reuters, 7 February 2018, Silva taps Brazil’s anger at corruption in presidential bid

 Extract:  Marina Silva has denounced Brazil’s traditional parties for leaning on vast kickback schemes to keep office. She started her own party from scratch four years ago.

“I am not ashamed to be a politician. I am a political person, but completely outside the criminal structures that took over Brazilian politics,” Silva told Reuters at the headquarters of her Sustainability Network party, or REDE.

Silva’s chances will be much improved this time around if the potential frontrunner, the still popular former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is barred from running due to a corruption conviction. The two candidates are not related.

Absent Lula, a recent Datafolha opinion poll indicated that right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro would win the first-round vote and Silva would come second. Silva would likely triumph in a second-round runoff, the poll suggested.

That poll showed 35 percent of Lula’s supporters would vote for no one if he cannot run, while Silva would draw 15 percent of his voters, the most of any candidate in the poll. If elected, Silva said she would strengthen anti-corruption investigations and move to end some legal protections from prosecution that sitting politicians enjoy.

With only a handful of lawmakers in her party at present, Silva said she was in talks with other parties on possible electoral alliances. Still, she said she would not forfeit her ideas to gain more electoral clout.

She said her main aim was to stop the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, and that she was also committed to fiscal responsibility. She would limit increases in public spending to the rate of economic growth, she added.

Silva is keen to keep state-run companies such as Petroleo Brasileiro SA in public hands, and criticized President Michel Temer’s plan to privatise Eletrobras, Brazil’s largest power utility.

She said Temer’s concessions to pressure groups had limited his pension bill and that reducing a budget deficit looked set to fall to the next government.  For more, please see the hyperlink below:

https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-brazil-politics-silva/silva-taps-brazils-anger-at-corruption-in-presidential-bid-idUKKBN1FR3DV

Jair Bolsonaro

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BNAMERICAS, 8 March 2018, Presidential candidate Bolsonaro wants limits on Brazil privatizations

Extract: Ultra-rightwing lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro  may impose limits on the privatization of state-run companies if he wins the presidential elections in October.

A retired army captain, the controversial politician is running second in the latest election polls.

“We can’t deliver our mineral wealth, our arable land, our subsoil, our transmission lines, our hydroelectric dams to a foreign country. I’m privatizing, but what’s strategic has to be preserved. We should not start with privatization in every case,” said Bolsonaro in a speech posted on his official Facebook account.

On Tuesday Bolsonaro signed on to be the presidential candidate for the small conservative PSL party.

“I recognize that I do not understand economics issues very well and it is a merit to say that I do not know. Better to recognize than to do wrong things,” he said. The lawmaker wants to reduce the public sector bureaucracy and implement a single nationwide tax in order to do away with Brazil’s complex system of multiple taxes on the federal, state and city-levels. For more, please see the hyperlink below:

https://www.bnamericas.com/en/news/banking/presidential-candidate-bolsonaro-wants-limits-on-brazil-privatizations1/

The Atlantic, 28 January 2018, The Rise of the Brazilian Evangelicals:  Meet Jair Messias Bolsonaro, the ultra-conservative military officer-turned-politician poised to capitalize on the fall of the Workers’ Party

Extract:  Jair Messias Bolsonaro is 62-year old military officer-turned-congressman . In a time when corruption has tarnished Brazil’s political class, his blunt charisma, zeal for law and order, and rapport with Brazil’s evangelicals, have turned what would ordinarily be glaring weaknesses into strengths. He has defended the legalization of capital punishment, and argued that the “politics” of “human rights, and of the politically correct, give space to those who are against the law and on the side of criminals.” He has said he’d rather have “a dead son over a gay son.”

Political parties, congressmen, and even the Brazilian Bar Association,  have filed a total of 30 requests to have him removed from his position as federal deputy for the city of Rio de Janeiro, a position he’s occupied for nearly three decades, for actions that broke congressional decorum, like sending death threats to another member of Congress and saying the military regime that ruled Brazil for 30 years “should have killed more people.” He has shown no particular grasp of policy: When questioned about how he was planning on ensuring a fiscal surplus, keeping inflation low, and maintaining a floating exchange rate (known as Brazil’s macroeconomic tripod, which has been the basis of economy policy in the country since 1999), he said that the person who needed to understand such things would be his finance minister, who he’d appoint if elected.

Bolsonaro’s evangelical supporters continue to back him not so much because of his extreme rhetoric, but because they view him as incorruptible. For Carlos Henrique Bernardes, a member of the Baptist church, Brazilians “don’t have options for ‘clean’ candidates, and Bolsonaro seems to be the only one who’s not corrupt, and that’s what makes him so appealing.” Meanwhile, to broaden his appeal, Bolsonaro has toned down some of his more extreme claims. He has connected with segments of the Brazilian population who feel they have been ignored by their elected officials, according to de Souza Junior. “That might be one of Bolsonaro’s greatest strengths,” Bernardes said. That’s what got Lula elected. And Bolsonaro might benefit from it, too.

With crime and corruption rampant, some Brazilians find Bolsonaro’s nostalgia for military dictatorship and even his disdain for democracy appealing.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/the-evangelical-takeover-of-brazilian-politics/551423/

Ciro Gomes

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Bloomberg, 7 March 2018, Fear Not, Says Brazilian Candidate Aiming to Tax the Rich

 Extract: A former two-time presidential candidate, minister, state governor, mayor, state and federal deputy, Ciro Gomes is billing himself as the clean and competent candidate who believes inequality lies at the root of Brazil’s economic and political woes. He rails against the fact that five families reportedly have the same wealth as 100 million Brazilians. And while reluctant to call himself a leftist — and eager to point to his pro-business record — he believes a hands-off approach to running the economy won’t address Brazil’s problems.

“Brazil has the world’s most brutal system of capital concentration,” he said. “And laissez-faire isn’t going to tackle that.”

Gomes proposes a radical shake-up of the Brazilian tax system, rolling back corporate tax breaks and hiking duties on the wealthy. To tackle Brazil’s ballooning pension deficit — a task that’s proved beyond the capabilities of the Temer administration — Gomes wants to cut civil servants’ privileges.

All oil fields sold since the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff — which Gomes described as a “coup”– would be expropriated.

As a member of the relatively small PDT, Gomes said he was talking to other parties about possible electoral alliances.

Gomes is one of the candidates who looks set to benefit if former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the current front-runner in opinion polls, is barred from running, as seems likely.  For more, please see the hyperlink below:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-07/fear-me-not-says-the-brazilian-candidate-aiming-to-tax-the-rich

Geraldo Alckim

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VOA News, 20 March 2018, Brazil’s PSDB Selects Alckmin as 2018 Presidential Candidate

Extract: The centrist Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) officially selected Sao Paulo state Governor Geraldo Alckmin on Tuesday as its candidate for Brazil’s 2018 presidential election, formalizing a move that had been expected since he was chosen as the party’s leader in December.

Alckmin was governor of Brazil’s richest and most populous state from 2001 to 2006 and again from 2011 to now. He ran for president in 2006, but lost to working-class hero Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is still Brazil’s most popular politician despite a corruption conviction that could bar him from running or even land him in jail.

Alckmin, whose support is hovering in the single digits in the polls, has made it clear he would back measures to shore up Brazil’s fiscal deficit and has backed an overhaul to Brazil’s costly pension system. He has also said he would support privatizing state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA , or Petrobras, as it is commonly known.  For more, please see the hyperlink below:

https://www.voanews.com/a/brazil-psdb-party-selects-alckmin-as-2018-presidential-candidate-/4308086.html

Michel Temer and Henrique Meirelles

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Reuters, 26 March 2018, Brazil finance minister may vie for ruling party presidential nod

 Extract: Brazilian Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said on Monday he will decide next week whether to resign to run for the presidency, as he competes with President Michel Temer for the nomination of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) party.

Aides to Temer, who is considering seeking a second term, announced earlier on Monday that Meirelles had already decided to quit to join the MDB as its presidential candidate or possibly as Temer’s running mate in the Oct. 7 election.

However, Temer, who came to power in 2016 when President Dilma Rousseff was impeached, later clarified that talks with Meirelles over the weekend had reached no conclusion regarding the MDB ticket.

“The natural candidate is President Temer, but if he does not want it or can’t run, minister Meirelles’ candidacy would be very welcome,” Temer’s minister of political affairs, Carlos Marun, told Reuters.

Pollster Ibope found in December that only 6 percent of Brazilians think Temer is doing a good or great job, while 74 percent see him as bad or terrible.

Political analysts say Temer, a veteran 77-year-old politician, needs at least a 15 percent approval rating to enter the campaign, and to lower his disapproval to close to 50 percent to stand any chance of winning.  For more,  please see the hyperlink below:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-politics-meirelles/brazil-finance-minister-may-vie-for-ruling-party-presidential-nod-idUSKBN1H22EA

 

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