AS/COA Online - Resource Guide: Brazil's Runoff Election

Dilma Rousseff and José Serra face off October 31 in a runoff presidential election. Dilma, as she is commonly known, is popular President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s handpicked successor and former cabinet chief and remains the favorite in polls. Still, Serra, the former governor of São Paulo, has seen the gap ebb and flow since the first round on October 3. One of them will take office in January 2011. AS/COA Online offers an overview of polls, coverage, and primary sources as the country’s 1.36 million voters prepare to head to the polls.

Topics Covered:

Primary Sources

Polls, Profiles, and Election Guides

  • Poll: Datafolha polling shows that, as of October 22, Dilma’s held a 10-point lead when measuring the total number of intended votes.
  • Poll: An October 25 Vox Populi survey placed Dilma 14 points ahead of Serra.
  • Poll: The Green Party’s Marina Silva placed third but scooped up nearly 20 percent of the votes in the first round of voting, raising questions about which of the two candidates would win over her voters. A Datafolha poll from October 18 showed that 51 percent of her supporters back Serra, compared to 23 percent backing Dilma. The remainder expressed indecision or intention of casting blank votes.
  • Election Guide: O Globo’s election guide includes profiles of presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial, and congressional candidates. The site also carries videos of Serra and Rousseff providing overviews of their respective platforms.
  • Election Guide: also carries an election 2010 feature page including a promise meter that measures the difficulty of fulfilling campaign promises. Another one, called the lie meter, separates fact from fiction on the campaign trail and shows the degree of fibbing with the help of a Pinocchio-nose graphic.
  • Election Guide: The BBC also offers a Brazil election page as well as a feature about a family that shares the last name of the current president and asks them to “discuss what they expect from his successor.”
  • Election Guide: The International Foundation for Electoral Systems gives a brief overview of the nuts and bolts of the election.
  • Profiles: The Miami Herald offers quick facts about each of the candidates, including birthdates, where they studied, and prior job posts held.

Election Analysis

  • In an Americas Quarterly web exclusive, Columbia University’s Thomas J. Trabat writes that the campaign for the second round could help prepare Dilma for what would follow an election win. “[F]or a relatively untested politician, this type of trial by fire could strengthen her ability to govern successfully over the next four years,” writes Trebat.
  • Should Serra win, he may face challenges working with Brazil’s congress and Senate, writes Arthur Ituassu of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in an article for openDemocracy. On the other hand, he writes, the fact that Dilma will have an easier time at coalition building “could also be institutionally dangerous for the country, with a sharp polarization between the Brazilian government and the press adding to a sense of tension.”
  • Writing for Estado de São Paulo, the Wilson Center’s Paulo Sotero argues that Marina Silva’s strong showing in the first round demonstrates a need for the country to look beyond the divisive campaign issues such as corruption and abortion to consider climate change, energy, and infrastructure. A Pew Research Center poll reports that 85 percent of Brazilians view climate change as a “very serious” problem, making it the country most concerned about the issue out of 22 polled. “To the next president will fall the challenge of integrating the various sources of energy generation into a coherent strategy, one that preserves the advantages of the system dominated by renewable energy that the country built over the course of the last few decades,” writes Sotero.
  • Jonathan Wheatley writes in the Financial Times that both candidates need to do a better job of spelling out fiscal policy. One reason may be that both seek to avoid being seen as diverging from the policies of the popular Lula government. “Many economists worry that worsening global conditions and a flood of speculative capital caused by expansionist monetary policy in the developed world will put Brazil’s overstretched public accounts under renewed pressure next year,” writes Wheatley. “But the candidates have been unwilling to say how they would tackle such problems.”
  • A Reuters Factbox offers the candidates economic proposals, including how they differ on Central Bank policy, structural reforms, and monetary policy. While both candidates want to see the benchmark interest rate brought down, Dilma supports the Central Bank’s operational autonomy in contrast to Serra’s pitch for the Bank to fall more in line with government policy.
  • The issue of abortion became a wedge issue in Brazil, where the procedure is illegal except in cases of rape or possible maternal death. IPS News says the public’s perception that Rousseff favored abortion legalization may have played a role in her failure to capture a first-round win. However, Dilma has announced that she opposes abortion and does not plan to decriminalize it. The opposition’s charges to the contrary deflated after reports revealed Serra’s wife underwent an abortion in 1992.

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