By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – All eyes are on Brazil’s new president Dilma Rousseff ever since she took the country’s highest office on January 1st. As Brazil hopes she will be able to maintain the country’s new-found economic prosperity, the world is eager to see whether her leadership will continue to drive Brazil as a key player on the international stage.
Rio de Janeiro is also anxious to see if the new presidency will continue the strong coalition between federal and state powers, a relationship that has worked well for the Cidade Maravilhosa in recent years.
Dilma and recent two-term president Lula, both affiliated with the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Workers’ Party) have been maintaining an effective political alliance with the governor of Rio state Sérgio Cabral and the mayor of the city, Eduardo Paes, both of Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (PMDB, Brazilian Democratic Movement Party).
The success of this alliance was evident with the election of both Dilma to the nation’s presidency, and Cabral’s reelection as the governor. On a federal level as well, the PT and PMDB have been working well together, and six members of Dilma’s Cabinet are affiliated with PMDB, including the Vice President Michel Temer.
Today, with the recent discoveries of the pre-salt oil fields off its shore, playing a major role in hosting the finals of the 2014 World Cup, and by being selected to host the 2016 Olympics, Rio has been experiencing one of the biggest highs in its history. A marked difference from the period prior, with governor Rosinha Garotinho (2003-2007) of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB, Brazilian Socialist Party) during Lula’s first term.
The relations between Rio de Janeiro and the federal government, however, were strained during the last month of Lula’s presidency, with the Congress’ approval of new oil laws, including an amendment aiming to redistribute oil royalties among all states and municipalities.
Lula has approved the law itself, which set out the framework rules for the country’s new pre-salt oil finds, but ended up vetoing the controversial amendment, ensuring to end his term on a positive note with the large oil-producing state of Rio de Janeiro, and leaving the resolution of the royalties issue to his successor Dilma.
Cabral, who attended Dilma’s inauguration in Brasília after being sworn in for his second term as the governor, voiced his full confidence that the new president would “keep her word” and oppose the redistribution of oil royalties.
In his inauguration speech, Cabral also expressed optimism regarding the next four years of the government, and assured that it was “possible to turn the page in a state that was in panic” due to the recent violence that dominated its capital city.