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Enrightenment | A Political (Edu)cation

Screenshot from 2015-02-13 16:42:33

Ideological preferences of Brazilians, September 2014. Source: Datafolha (screen capture)

Blog da Cidadania (Brazil) | Edu Guimarães

A Congress up to its neck in the Car Wash case lacks the  moral authority to overthrow Dilma

It is not out of the goodness of their hearts or the spirit of democracy that the pawns of the anti-PT press are positioning themselves contrary to the coup-plotting fever dreams of «pyjama Toucans» and/or that crowd that calls for the return of the generals. Despite the risk posed to our young democracy by the opposition’s inability to cope with the fact that it will spend another four more years out of power, political pundits have a pretty good idea of what comes next.

What comes next is nothing to sneeze at. A little bird from the Planalto Palace told this blogger that, in the best-case scenario, at least THREE opposition Senators are up to their next in the plea bargain testimony taken in the Car Wash case. And this is just the Senate. Now imagine the lower house, dear reader, where the thundering herd of federal police will create even greater wreckage.

It would actually be funny to see lawmakers indicted for corruption taking the liberty of considering deposing a President reelected by 54 million Brazilians –- against whom there is not the slightest accusation — while at the same time responding themselves to criminal investigation based, not on politically motivated demands but on tangible evidence.

The Congress will have to deal with the impeachment of its own members before moving on to another branch of government.

In the coming weeks, the judiciary will publish the names of dozens and dozens of legislators whose fingerprints were found on the Car Wash scheme. And the opposition knows it will not emerge unscathed.

Likewise, another important point is that the Car Wash investigations are reaching down to the state governments and municipalities. Soon, Brazil will discover that governors and mayors, unlike the President, left fingerprints on the coffers of criminal public works contractors.

As to the steep decline in Dilma’s popularity, it is momentary. It stems from a January in which she exposed herself politicaly with (unavoidable) austerity measures and the nomination of a cabinet that includes conservative parties of the majority coalition. Another Datafolha study, however, shows that there is a way for Dilma to recapture her popularity.

Last September, the Folha de S. Paulo’s polling organization explored the ideology of Brazilians and made a surprising discovery: the typical Brazilian is conservative on behavioral issues like abortion, the age of criminal respsonibility, and so on, but leans to the left on the economic issues.

Below, three selections from that survey.

“(…) In the middle of the campaign season, the portion of voters in tune with positions assumed by the right (45%) currently outweigh those inclined to positions defended by the left. This result represents a change in public opinion in terms of behavior, values, and economic life, of which this division is a reflection.”

“(…) Focusing exclusively on behavior and values, the segments of the population more attuned to the right (55%, comprising 15% on the right and 40% on the center-right) were superior to those more identified with the left (25%, comprising 3% on the left and 21% on the center-left). The pure center, in this case, comprises 21% of the electorate. In November 2013, 49% leaned to the right (12% to the right and 37% to the center-right), while 29% leaned toward the leftists (4% toward the left, and 25% toward the center-left), and 22% in the “pure” center.

“(…) When only economic issues are taken into account, 30% display more of a preference for positions associated with the right (20% on the center-right and 10% on the far right), while 43% leaned toward positions identified with the left (18% on the left and 25% on the center-left.) Those who define themselves as centrists comprise 27%. In November 2013, the portion of voters on the left was 46% (21% on the left, and 25% the center-left), while 26% were more identified on economic issues with the right (8% with the far right and 18% with the center-right). The “pure centrists” in the economic area comprised 27% (…)

As we can see, from 2013 on, the typical Brazilian took a rightward turn. In political terms, a much more pronounced turn, but in economic terms much less.

Summing up: We are conservative about social issues but we want the protection of the State. Thus the result of last Saturday’s Datafolha, which expressed the concern of society over the possibility that Dilma would adopt the economic program of the right, something which even the left-leaners are concerned about.

This illustration of the ideological incoherence of the Brazilian and his “[enright(en)ment],* reflects not just on Dilma or the PT but on the left in general, including the left-wing opposition parties. Leftist discourse is seducing these people to an increasing degree. Attributing this to Dilma and the PT alone is to commit political suicide, [however].

Even so, economic policy is what will enable the Dilma government to recover its popularity. What has kept the PT in power for more than a decade has been the increased presence of the State in the economic and personal lives of citizens. This is what the people want, in large part. Dilma, then, needs to show that her government will not change direction.

As you can see, the opposition may be winning the game at this moment, but the game is far from over. It will last another four years.  There is plenty of time to turn the tide and, if the opposition proves foolish, to win in a landslide.

*«Enrightenment» is what I hope is a forgivable creative intrusion into the translation.