Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After the June protests the favorite to become the next President of Brazil (among protesters) was Marina Silva. Both a former Senator and presidential candidate, she garnered some forty percent of the June survey’s votes, more than doubling her actual votes on the first Presidential ballot in 2012.
What she had going for her in June was, quite simply, that she was NOT a member of any political party. Lots of protest signs said “no party represents us!” The signs are right, for even though there are now 32 registered political parties, with 26 of them represented in Congress, most of them don’t represent the people.
Every single political party in Brazil is founded from one root stock: money. Politics is money grubbing, money grabbing: ABBA’s song said it all: “Money, money, money… it’s a rich man’s world!”
And so, along came Marina! Is she above money?
Well, possibly, but then again, who knows?
First, she tried to form her own political party which she (in her innocence?) called a “network” rather than a party: “Rede Sustentabilidade” or Sustainability Network. She failed. She had over two years to collect almost 500,000 signatures from provably eligible voters. She failed: she came up with 450,000 which isn’t bad, but it’s not enough. She couldn’t even get it started, let alone sustain it.
She failed because she hasn’t got the necessary political gifts, i.e. leadership and practicality. She talks great talk, but she can’t walk the great walk. Even before her failed effort to form a political party, many (including the Curmudgeon) wondered out loud whether Marina had any administrative capabilities at all. After all, she has never been a governor or a mayor, she’s only held legislative posts.
True, she was Lula’s Environmental Minister for five years, but was overshadowed by Dilma and Lula himself. If you’re going to form a party, you need workers, you need volunteers, and you have to be able to coordinate and administer these people. Marina simply wasn’t able to transform “tweets” and “likes” into a viable political entity.
She can certainly do “spin”, though. After the TSE held against her “Network” she claimed it was not a defeat, but a victory! As Pyrrhus famously said 2,300 years ago: “Another such victory and I am undone!”
The day after her “victory” she joined the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB) which has welcomed her with wide open arms — and equally open wallets. PSB was founded by Eduardo Campos, the grandson of the late Miguel Arraes, one of the last true socialists extant in Brazil.
Campos is probably not a socialist, but he has an immense amount of practical political skills, and has turned PSB into the third or fourth force in Brazilian party politics today. He’s an all-but-declared candidate for the Presidency in 2014 and his candidacy looks much stronger now he’s enlisted Marina to be his Vice Presidential candidate.
Given her proven incapacity to administer much of anything, Marina has probably chosen quite well. If Campos is elected, she can become Vice President in Charge of Social and Environmental Movements, and (who knows?) perhaps contribute to some change in Brazil. And if Campos fails, there’s always 2018 when she will be only sixty years old.
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!)