[Marxism] Marina Silva's challenge to a corrupt and pro-capitalist Workers Party

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 28 06:50:33 MDT 2014

(Marina Silva, the Socialist Party candidate profiled below, was the 
subject of a film on environmentalism I reviewed a while back. She is 
very principled, something lacking in the shitty party now in control. 

Wall St. Journal, August 28 2014
Brazil Candidate Taps Voter Unease --- Strong Debate Performance, 
Frustration With Incumbent Propel Socialist Ahead of Presidential Vote
by John Lyons

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Just over a year ago, a million Brazilians took to 
the street to vent displeasure with political corruption and poor 
government services. Now, they look poised to channel that frustration 
into the ballot box.

A late entrant in the campaign, Socialist Party candidate Marina Silva 
suddenly has become the undisputed leader in the October election by 
transforming the protest movement's reservoir of discontent into 
potential votes.

A poll released late Tuesday by the Ibope research firm showed Ms. Silva 
defeating the incumbent Dilma Rousseff with 45% to 36% in a runoff. She 
looked every bit the front-runner later that evening with a strong 
performance in the first televised debate between candidates leading up 
to October's elections.

The 56-year-old former senator and environmental activist has tapped a 
demographic previously out of reach for candidates: voters so fed up 
with Brazilian politics they were planning to file blank ballots instead 
of picking a candidate. With Ms. Silva in the race, the number of 
planned "blank or null" votes fell by around half to 7%, the poll showed.

"Her voters have the same profile as the protesters, younger, more 
education," said Marcia Cavallari, who runs Ibope's Inteligencia 
public-opinion division, in a televised interview. "She represents this 
desire for change, doing politics differently."

A win for Ms. Silva could help redraw a political system dominated by a 
rivalry between the governing leftist Workers' Party of Ms. Rousseff and 
the more conservative opposition Social Democracy Party, represented by 
third-place candidate Acio Neves, said political analyst Ricardo 
Ribeiro. That could spur a developmental leap for Brazil, which embraced 
democracy in 1985 after a long dictatorship but has struggled with 
corruption and inefficiency ever since.

Ms. Silva has vowed political overhauls designed to bring more 
accountability and transparency. At the same time, a Silva presidency 
could lead to battles with entrenched interests in congress with 
uncertain impact on stability in the young democracy.

"The existing system is far from perfect, but it brings predictability 
and order," Mr. Ribeiro said. "How will it work if she is not going to 
use the existing system?"

Despite these uncertainties, Brazil's stock market has tended to surge 
whenever polls show support slipping for Ms. Rousseff, whose policies 
have been criticized for fueling inflation and hurting Brazil's 
competitiveness. On Wednesday, the benchmark Ibovespa stocks index rose 
1.9% to its highest close since January 2013.

Investors seem to like what they have heard so far on Ms. Silva's 
developing economic platform, including a more-independent central bank, 
said Tony Volpon, head of emerging markets Americas at Nomura Securities 
International in New York. "Her views on fiscal and monetary policies 
are in line with what the market would like to see next year in Brazil," 
he said.

In June 2013, around a million Brazilians took to the streets in dozens 
of cities demanding better government. They vented frustration with a 
range of ills, from rampant corruption to overspending on stadiums for 
the 2014 soccer World Cup while service at public hospitals and schools 
remained dismal.

With her approval ratings falling, Ms. Rousseff promised a national 
plebiscite on a sweeping political overhaul that would improve 
accountability. But the overhaul got stuck in the congressional 
gridlock. The protests petered out.

Now, Ms. Silva is leveraging those frustrations to bolster her 
candidacy. In Tuesday's debate, she called on Ms. Rousseff to explain 
why the promised changes never materialized.

"When we had the protests in June you presented a series of pacts trying 
to attend to the demands of the population," Ms. Silva said. "Nothing 
worked. What went wrong?"

Ms. Silva's outsider's story also appeals to voters seeking change. The 
child of Amazon rubber tappers, she became a senator despite learning to 
read and write only as a teenager. She is deeply principled, a devout 
evangelical Christian who made her name in politics as an environmental 
working with slain Amazon activist Chico Mendes.

Ms. Silva's Afro-Brazilian heritage may give her added appeal in a 
country where more than half of the population isn't white but most 
politicians are. Ms. Silva is one of the few blacks ever to be elected 
senator and would be Brazil's first black president if she wins.

The election is still six weeks away and Ms. Rousseff could conceivably 
close the gap, analysts say. Ms. Silva joined the race after the 
Socialist Party candidate Eduardo Campos, running a distant third, died 
in a plane crash this month.

Ms. Rousseff has the advantage of far more free television time than Ms. 
Silva, where she is expected to attack her rival as an unproven leader 
who won't be able to manage the day-to-day of governing the nation.

Elenita Abranches, a Sao Paulo education worker who previously voted for 
Workers' Party candidates, said she has already decided to vote for Ms. 
Silva, who she said represented the best chance to speed a 
transformation of the country that began years ago but has slowed under 
Ms. Rousseff. "She seems very simple and transmits confidence," Ms. 
Abranches said.

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