Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – “Politics trumps Economics” quoth Aristotle, and on October 9th that was once again proven true. First, two national opinion polls showed that Aécio was leading Dilma by 46 percent to 44 perfcent, reversing her first round lead. They also showed that the “undecided” vote had fallen off a cliff: almost everybody has now decided.
The two percent difference is not definitive, as it’s within the margin of error, but it’s significant in that it’s the first time since Brazil began having runoff Presidential elections that the candidate who came second made up enough ground to take the lead.
On the negative side, the polls show Marina has once again slipped on a political banana peel. She was going to endorse Aécio, but she had a little list of demands. When Aécio didn’t cave, she made a bigger list. These new demands include not lowering the age for criminal prosecutions to sixteen, one of Aécio’s planks.
While Marina dithered, the political world continued to turn. Several minority parties, including her own PSB, announced they were now supporting Aécio, without waiting for a pronouncement from on high by Marina. In short, the boat left the dock without her on board, and (lo and behold!) it didn’t sink.
Finally, a few words on the televised debate on economics between Wannabe Armínio Fraga (Aécio’s future Minister of Finance, if he’s elected) and Has-been Guido Mantega (Dilma’s former Minister of Finance if she’s elected). Those few words are: “politics trumps economics”.
Armínio seemed hesitant, except when doing econspeak (“economês”). Mantega was smooth and decidedly political, highlighting the Lula/Dilma achievements in areas the poor think about when the economy is mentioned—jobs, higher wages, “bolsa família”. Round one to Mantega.
The Curmudgeon plans to emit more short(ish) Smidgens opportunely. Stay tuned.