Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The official silly season has just begun, as the dozens of political parties inflicting themselves upon the electorate begin to hold their conventions, where they will nominate candidates for President, Governors, Senators and Federal Deputies. There are a few things known and a few things unknown, all of which bear watching.
There is good news. The current Senator from Amapá (hands up all those of you know where that is, liars!) José Sarney, the first President Brazil had after the military bowed out, thanks to indirect elections and a fatal illness by Tancredo Neves, has announced that, some 59 years after he was first elected to a local position, he will not run for re-election this year. Hallejulah! Sing all and sundry who are tired of his being lionized simply because he knows where all the corrupt bodies are buried.
There is bad news, at least for the Curmudgeon, who has said for months (years?) that PT would ditch President Dilma and nominate former President Lula. PT had its convention and the “dump Dilma” movement did not win, as Lula seemed to dither overmuch about whether he’d really like to run after all the Mensalão scandals and the Petrobras scandals and the rampant inflation and the stagnating economy and the upcoming Olympics scandals (for there will be blood).
There is good news for the twenty or so soi-disant “parties” who stand for nothing at all except “we want money and we’ll do anything for it.” These minnows, without a scruple amongst them, are now the objects of covetous eyes from the half dozen major parties who actually have hopes of electing someone. The main object of desire is… TV time.
Under Brazilian electoral laws, parties are allocated free TV time to spout their inane drivel over the airwaves to unsuspecting and (they hope) unsuspicious voters. Actually, it’s not just parties, it’s coalitions of parties, so if a half dozen minnows swim into the maw of PT or PSDB or PSB, the latter’s Presidential candidates get another few minutes of time. Viewers get another chance to turn off the boob tube and try to find something else to do other than being brainwashed.
Parties at both national and state levels form the coalitions for this election, and they vary widely from state to state. For instance, at a national level, PMDB is with PT and candidate Dilma, because the VP candidate is an insipid PMDB man. At the state level, in Rio, PMDB has just come out in favor of PSDB and its candidate Aécio Neves, even though not two weeks ago it was swearing fidelity to Dilma and PT. Ho Hum.
At the gubernatorial level in Rio de Janeiro, things are truly weird. The two top vote getters, according to most polls, are former Governor Garotinho and current Fisheries Minister Crivella. Both of them are members of minor parties with lots of chutzpah but not that much money. No one really believes they will survive into the final round, where the favorites are PT Senator Lindbergh, and PMDB current governor Pezão (Bigfoot) — but both are trying to seduce the minnows’ TV minutes.
Trust me, the only seduction tool that will work is spelled $$$.
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!)