By George Utley and Maria Creamer, Contributing Reporters
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On June 21st President Dilma Rousseff was officially announced as the Worker’s Party (PT) 2014 presidential candidate for re-election in October this year, while Michel Temer will stand for re-election as vice-president. The protege and successor of immensely popular ex-President Lula has maintained her place within the PT despite massive public unrest last year, economic downturns and even a recent Petrobras scandal.
At the national convention in Brasília, in the presence of party affiliates and allies, PT delegates demonstrated their support for the reformist principles proposed in the government’s manifesto, which have been given the slogan “More changes, more future.”
The presidential campaign will be based on two key points: democratization of the media, and political reform. According to Rui Falcão, national president of the PT, the principle act of the political reforms will be the end of private funding of political campaigns.
Stressing the need for the working classes to become more involved in politics, Falcão announced that a referendum on the matter is expected in September of this year, during Semana da Patria. Regarding the media, Falcão underlined the need to uphold the principles set out in the Federal Constitution, namely the prohibition of monopolies, and the existence of independent regional production.
President Rousseff declared the political reforms to be fundamental to improve the quality of politics. “Social transformation produced by our governments has laid the foundations for the promotion of a great democratic and political transformation in Brazil. I do not foresee any viable path to political reform which excludes public participation.”
The president also asserted the importance of several other projects under the umbrella term of “urban reform,” which include improvements to urban mobility and public transport systems, basic sanitation and housing.
Representatives of several other parties attended the convention, including members of the PCdoB, PRB, PP, PSD, PMDB, PROS e PDT. The PT-PMDB coalition was reinforced by a symbolic vote. Repeating the campaign slogan, Rousseff thanked them for their “vote of confidence” and said she wanted to transform her gratitude and joy into commitment and strength to make more changes.
Winning her first election in 2010 only after a run-off round, in 2014 Rousseff will face top rivals, Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB) or Brazilian Socialist Party candidate Eduardo Campos and Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) or Brazilian Social Democracy Plan candidate Aecio Neves.
In April 2014, former governor of Pernambuco and leader of the PSB, Campos, announced his running alongside former senator Marina Silva as vice president. Once ardent members and supporters of PT, Campos and Silva have evolved into tough critics and presidential opponents.
Under President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government, Silva stepped down from her position as an environmental minister due to disagreements with Lula’s environmental policies. The union between the two may stray other PT supporters, and throw a wrench into the party’s calculations.
Aecio Neves, a current member of the Brazilian Federal Senate and former governor of Minas Gerais, on May 18, 2013, replaced congressman Sergio Guerra as the PSDB presidential election candidate. Both candidates have harshly criticized Rousseff and the PT, while offering distinct formulas for presidency.
Since last years Confederation Cup, Rousseff’s popularity has fallen substantially, giving space for Neve’s and Campos presidential campaigns to grow. The latest Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics or IBOPE, showed Rouseff leading with 39 percent, followed by Neves at 21 percent and Campos trailing behind at ten percent.
Although currently in the lead, Rouseff’s position will continue to be threatened by public discontent, high inflation and a struggling economy. With the World Cup serving as “the electoral campaign by proxy“, any Cup successes or failures will be pinned on Rousseff and the PT, potentially impacting voters intentions.