By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff marked her first 100 days of her second term as the country’s leader struggling to maintain political and economic control. After an extremely tight presidential race in October of 2014, Rousseff has been losing popularity and support from both the population and politicians as she tries to juggle rising inflation, decreasing economic growth, and an ever-growing antagonistic Congress.
“Rousseff’s first one-hundred days were marked by the significant draining of support for her,” says professor Jose Alvaro Moisés, professor of Political Science at São Paulo University (USP) and coordinator of the Public Policy Research Nucleus at USP. “We are at the beginning of an administration with the support levels usually found at the end of government terms,” he added.
Neil Shearing agrees, in an interview to Bloomberg TV the chief economist at Capital Economics stated that the political scandals and economic misfortunes faced by the administration today have made Rousseff ‘almost a lame duck’ president three months into her second term.
In the economy, President Rousseff, after strongly criticizing left-wing candidate Marina Silva’s presidential candidacy for being backed by bankers nominated former bank executive and University of Chicago alumni Joaquim Levy to head the Finance Ministry. Early on Levy signaled with the tightening of fiscal policies, despite statements by Rousseff during the electoral campaign that no significant fiscal adjustments were going to be made during her second term.
“Levy is opposed to everything the PT party (Rousseff’s Workers Party) has fought for,” says Moisés, noting that one of the Minister’s first actions included suspending subsidies and cutting some retirement and unemployment benefits.
In dealing with a disgruntled congress, Brazil’s president recently appointed her VP, Michel Temer, as the lead political negotiator between the executive office and the country’s two legislative houses.
Temer is the president of the PMDB (Brazilian Democratic Party), which although an ally of Rousseff’s PT party is also looking ahead to next year’s mayoral races. “With the nomination, she practically admitted that she, and the PT, have no capacity to negotiate and dialogue with congress,” says the USP professor.
Since January the administration has lost important battles in congress, having to withdraw some executive orders and go back on a few proposals due to an overwhelming negative reaction from the legislative. According to Moisés these setbacks and defeats further undermine Rousseff’s influence in both the Lower and Upper houses.
Adding to these political and economic woes, are forecasts of a negative economic growth for the country in 2015, increased unemployment rates, lower consumer spending and a decrease in both foreign and domestic investments in strategic sectors of the economy. Political and economic analysts agree that the Rousseff administration is facing a tough year or two ahead, and that she may have to further make compromises and give up more of her and her party’s power both in the executive and legislative branches to survive.
“I believe that recovery is not likely before one to one-and-a-half-years,” says the USP professor, noting that it will this recovery will occur “if Levy’s plans in the economy are successful and if Temer’s negotiating skills are able to ease tensions in congress.”