By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – With Brazilians still dazed with the disappointing fourth place obtained in the 2014 World Cup, political analysts now start to examine whether the loss of the football championship will affect October’s Presidential elections, and specifically if it will negatively affect incumbent Dilma Rousseff’s chances for re-election.
After mass protests rocked the country last year during the FIFA Confederations Cup (a type of preseason tournament to the World Cup), many predicted Brazil would be setting up for a similar out-pour of discontent, especially if the Brazil team did not do well.
However, even after a devastating 7-1 loss in the semifinals, the streets remained relatively quiet, although some attribute that more to the strong-arm police tactics than a lack of public frustration.
At the same time the international press seemed to praise Brazil’s preparation and capacity during the mega-event despite the many warning signs. Infrastructure and security issues took a back-burner to what was happening on the sporting field, as organizers hoped it would.
For Rafael Cortez, political scientist at Tendencias Consultancy, “the effects of the World Cup on October’s election have been overestimated.” He says that the most powerful effects were actually seen back in June of 2013, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets to demonstrate against a range of issues by the government.
David Rees, an emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, agrees. “The World Cup result could have some short term negative impact I guess – the gloomy mood may make people react. But any impact stemming from the World Cup is likely to be short lived,” he adds.
Both Rees and Cortez believe that the economic scenario from now until October is more likely to sway votes than the poor performance by Brazil’s football team. “We think that Brazil’s poor economic fundamentals will have a more lasting impact. These seemed to be temporarily forgotten during the World Cup […] and they may come back to the foreground again over the coming months,” says Rees.
Capital Economics’ latest Latin American Economic Update states that “the election is Rousseff’s to lose. Success will depend on whether she is able to attract support from undecided voters.” According to the research group, Brazil’s economic growth is weak. In addition, inflation is once again rising and interest rates have significantly increased. All of this could spark some reaction against Rousseff.
For Tendencias, the main factors which are likely to play significant roles in swaying undecided will be inflation and the job market. Cortez points out however, “economic factors however will not make or break Rousseff’s chances.” According to the analyst, “if the PT (Workers Party) is able to provide the perception that the well-being of voters has improved during these past four years, Rousseff wins.” This push to convince voters is likely to become stronger starting August 19th, when the presidential campaigns officially start on TV and radio networks.
The latest polls by the major research polling centers Datafolha, Ibope and Vox Populi, have Dilma Rousseff (PT- Workers Party) leading the race with approximately forty percent of voter preference. The incumbent president is followed by Aecio Neves (PSDB – Social Democrats Party) with twenty percent and Eduardo Campos (PSB – Socialist Party) with eight percent of voter intention.
Both Capital Economics and Tendencias work with a scenario where no candidate will be able to garner fifty percent plus one of the votes necessary to win outright and a second-round of elections between the two most voted candidates will be held in November. “It now seems all but inevitable that the election will go to a second round run-off – most likely between Rousseff and Aecio Neves,” concludes Rees.
This week, Datafolha is expected to release another poll which will include voters’ mood after Brazil’s defeat at the World Cup.