ANU experts on Brazil's presidential elections

24 October 2014

Around 100 million Brazilians head to the polls on Sunday 26 October as the world's fourth largest democracy decides on its next president.

In the final round of voting, contenders are incumbent Dilma Rousseff of the centre-left Worker's Party (PT) and Aécio Neves, candidate for the centre-right Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB).

Brazil's emerging economy means it is an increasingly significant player on the world stage. However, the next government has significant problems to overcome, including domestic social and economic inequality, corruption and rising inflation.

ANU experts have commented on the implications of the vote.

Dr Sean W Burges
Deputy Director, Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

"The campaign has been the most ill-tempered in democratic Brazil's history with both candidates publicly and frequently accusing each other of outright lying and fabricating false charges of wrongdoings. Chief amongst the accusations has been that of corrupt use of public office.

"Of greater concern to Brazilians however is the future of the social programs that have lifted over 30 million from poverty over the last decade and the ability of the next government to restart job-generating growth in the country's wavering economy."

"Despite the warnings from Rousseff that the opposition would end social programs or Neves' claims that the PT will cause them to collapse through mismanagement, the reality is that both candidates are deeply committed to strengthening and deepening the social safety net that has been transforming Brazil over the last two decades."

Mr Patrick Carvalho
Associate Lecturer, Research School of Economics
ANU College of Business and Economics

"After sweeping pro-market structural reforms in the 1990s, Brazil experienced an economic boom fuelled by commodity exports and credit expansion, making it the 7th largest economy in the world. Yet the Brazilian economy has faced severe challenges in the last few years.

"The coming Brazilian presidential election on 26 October represents a decisive moment to the big Latin American nation, where a big government change is expected. Will the newly elected government implement progressive policy leading to higher growth and macroeconomic stability? What are the implications to Australia?"

Dr Tracy B Fenwick
Lecturer in Political Science, School of Politics and International Relations
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

"Brazil has never been so polarized, politically, geographically, and along class lines. This is a two-party battle between the PSDB and the PT. Sunday night will be the closest race to the finish line in twenty years.

"If Rousseff wins, the media will say 'Bolsa Familia' (Brazil's infamous poverty alleviation program) voted. This is too simple.

"Even if Rousseff wins, she has to govern. Brazil is a robust federal system where governors matter. The PT has already lost key states in the first round, with more than half left to be decided on Sunday."