Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Brazilian Presidential election has been thrown into complete disarray by the accidental death of Eduardo Campos last week. Speculation has been rife, and as this is written (Monday August 18th) only one thing seems clear. Marina Silva, Campos’ running mate for VP, will be chosen to run on the PSB ticket.
PSB bigwigs hope she will appeal to the left, to the greens, and to those demonstrators who, in 2013, were out in the streets protesting against all political parties and who probably wouldn’t vote.
PSB stands for “Partido Socialista Brasileiro”, but everyone knows that Eduardo Campos was never a socialist, unlike his famous grandfather Miguel Arraes. Marina can remedy that, as she began politics with PT, and has always positioned herself on the left. PSB will be grateful to have a candidate for whom “socialist” is not a misnomer.
Marina’s “green” credentials are impeccable. She was Lula’s Environment Minister, but quit when she saw him allow Dilma Rousseff to support the Brazilian farm lobby and those calling for more roads and large power dams. She switched from PT to PV (Green Party) and ran for President in 2010, garnering around twenty percent of the votes in the first round.
Marina is also the darling of the demonstrators. In polls taken in mid-2013 among demonstrators, Marina was everybody’s first choice—second choice was Joaquim Barbosa, then Presiding Justice of STF. Both were seen as not having been ensnared into the binary scenario where PT battles with PSDB for political hegemony.
But the Curmudgeon wonders: if you’re PSB, what’s not to like about Marina?
First, you could be afraid she’ll actually take the party leftward. If so, that means the demise of PSB as a political party — its members will revert to being either PT or PSDB, whence they came. Second, she’s never been any good at compromising, unlike Campos who was outstanding.
The future bone of contention is called “Rede Sustentabilidade” (Sustainability Network) which Marina founded in early 2013. It was to become her captive political party for the 2014 race. For unexplained reasons (conspiracy theories abound) “Rede” fell short of the required signatures on a petition to register the party. PSB suspects she will found it next year, leaving them in the lurch.
The Curmudgeon also wonders: if you’re a voter, what’s not to like about Marina? For one thing, she’s uncompromisingly committed to a green environment, and most Brazilians are not — if you ask Brazilians to choose between development and environment, most will choose the former.
For another, no one knows whether Marina has any organizational talent — even with plenty of time she couldn’t organize a political party in a country where there are already 33 parties, most of which are jokes. How will she govern a country where there are thirty Cabinet Ministers reporting to the President?
When Campos was alive she was unwilling to cooperate with PSB candidates who were allied with parties she didn’t like. Given the current state of its party politics, Brazil is ungovernable without someone cobbling together a working coalition of parties and politicians. Marina does not seem capable of doing that.
PSB has to be happy with the August 18th polls, showing Dilma 36 percent, Marina 21 percent and Aécio 20 percent. Campos had never gotten above nine percent. If these results hold, a second round is ineluctable and … who knows? … perhaps Marina will be the candidate against Dilma.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 36 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)