Brazil is having their elections for President and Representatives. Publius has a good primer on how elections work down there.
Current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is in trouble, as corruption scandals have been hitting him pretty hard lately (which is no surprise for Brazilian politics). Although, unlike many of his predecessors, he has kept the country from spending too much and defaulting on foreign loans. But they’ve got a long way to go, and Lula is hanging on because the poor love him, mostly for his monthly handouts to low income people. Very socialist rob-the-rich state of affairs and definitely not sustainable.
Gerald Alckmin is a moderate to right ex-Governor of the Sao Paulo state, which is the best run and modern financial capital of South America.
Here’s an interesting take on the matter:
What’s most likely is that a rightwing Congress will come in, but Lula, who’s popular as a person, will in the end retain his office.
What may happen could be roughly similar to the Clinton second term of office in the U.S., where the popular engaging Bill Clinton easily won a second term in office in 1996, but also got a huge landslide of rightwing legislators led by Newt Gingrich to deal with, ensuring that he never ever tried to take over one-tenth of the American economy as he did in his bid to nationalize health care. The ultimate result of that setup was one of the most successful peacetime governments in U.S. history. Tax cuts were enacted, welfare handouts were limited and reformed, and the budget was balanced. And the stock market rose to record highs, leaving Alan Greenspan fuming. Those were the days!
But the Clinton-Gingrich team was also notoriously lousy on security, as Bin Laden well knew, though. Why do I bring this up? Because if he’s reelected, Lula will face unprecedented security challenges in his second term as Hugo Chavez attempts to dominate the hemisphere in the name of his ‘Boliviarian’ project, which is nothing more than a completion of Fidel Castro’s efforts to throw Cuban-style communism over South America. Would Brazil put up with that? One wants to say ‘no’ but the uncomfortable fact is, they are, because Lula has allowed Chavez to run circles around him, vastly reducing Brazil’s influence in the region.
Right now Evo Morales of Bolivia is constructing military bases on the Brazilian border. Chavez is sending troops to the region, and a dangerous Bolivian civil war is brewing. Castro is dying and Chavez is getting ready to assume Castro’s aggressive new mantle, pursuing nuclear alliances with Iran and Argentina. There is no question that Brazil has some serious security challenges in coming years.
But like Clinton, Lula is deeply reluctant to get involved in war matters. He may be pushed by his military, which knows the deal, or Alan Garcia of Peru, who sees clearly what is happening, but thus far, he has always resisted confrontation in favor of appeasement to predators like Chavez and Morales. Will he continue to do so? Hard to say. But it’s going to be harder and harder for him to stay on the fence.