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Brazil - Politics

Getúlio Vargas19301954
Juscelino Kubitschek19561961
Jânio Quadros19611961
João Goulart19611964
Humberto Castelo Branco19641967
Artur da Costa e Silva 19671969
Emílio Garrastazú Médici19691974
Ernesto Geisel19741979
João Figueiredo19791985
Tancredo Neves19851985
Jose Sarney19851990
Fernando Collor de Mello19901992
Itamar Franco19921994
Fernando Henrique Cardoso19952002
Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva20022010
Dilma Vana Rousseff20102014+
In October 2010, Brazil held its sixth consecutive presidential and general elections since the reinstatement of democracy in 1985. About 130 million Brazilians, two-thirds of the country’s population, were eligible to vote, a mandatory civic duty. Up for election were the President, the governors of all 26 states and of the federal district of Brasília; all 513 federal deputies; 54 senators (two-thirds of the total); and 1,057 delegates to the 27 state assemblies. Dilma Vana Rousseff, the Workers Party (PT) candidate, won a runoff election against the Social Democrat Party candidate, becoming the first woman president in Brazil. Dilma had previously served as the Minister of Mines and Energy and the Executive Chief of Staff, a cabinet-member position, in President Lula’s administration. Rousseff took office on January 1, 2011 and prioritized growth with equity policies to eradicate poverty and fiscal austerity. President Rousseff was also a vocal defender of human rights and promoter of social inclusion, most notably gender equality. Within the first year of her government, several cabinet ministers resigned at Rousseff's urging due to accusations of graft.

More than a million protesters marched in upwards of a hundred cities across Brazil on 20 June 2013, including at least 300,000 in Rio de Janeiro alone, where police fired tear gas to contain the crowds. Protesters also stormed the foreign ministry in the capital, Brasilia, throwing burning objects and firecrackers into the building before being repelled by police. The demonstrations were the latest in a flurry of protests over the previous week that fed on widespread frustration with poor public services, police violence and government corruption. The protests, organized mostly by university students through snowballing social media campaigns, marked the first time that Brazilians had taken to the streets on such a large scale since economic volatility and a corruption scandal led to the toppling of corrupt President Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992.

The masses that mobilized protested against the high cost of living, corruption and government mismanagement. It's especially young people - not the very poor, not the extremely rich, but people in between. People who work, study or do both. The level of education in public schools is still very low and quality healthcare is only available to the wealthy. Some analysts say the protests were fueled by a middle class which has grown to 40 million people, and business centers in the south of the country that resent being heavily taxed to pay for government handouts to the poor. There has been a sense that the people who really run the country financially - the south and southeast - are getting the short end of the stick with lousy schools, terrible transportation, terrible medical care and a growing sense that Brasilia, Rousseff and her Workers Party [PT] really don’t care about Sao Paulo, the south and the southeast of the country. There is little the government can do in the short term to address the protesters’ demands. The Brazilian government’s reversal of the transport fare hikes that sparked nationwide demonstrations has done little to appease the protesters.

Christopher Garman and Clifford Young wrote that "... it’s no coincidence that the protesters tend to be more from the upper middle class. It is precisely this segment of society that has been hit the hardest with the escalating cost of living in large cities. ... with heightened prosperity voters have turned their attention to other priorities, most linked to quality of life issues such as healthcare, education, transportation and public safety.... Such a trend is evident in polling data. In 2005 nearly 60 percent of the public considered issues surrounding jobs and income to be their main concern. The sum of issues surrounding quality of life issues, like healthcare, transport, crime and education, were front and center for only a bit over 20 percent of the population. By 2013 the tables turned entirely, with concern over jobs dropping to 30 percent, and issues of the quality of life surpassing that of jobs and income."

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff held an emergency cabinet meeting June 21, 2013 to discuss an intensifying protest movement that had not slowed despite government concessions. Rousseff is a former leftist guerrilla who was imprisoned for bank robbery and tortured by military dictators in her youth. During prime time on the evening of 21 June 2013, the Brazilian president repeated her support for the people's right to protest, invoking her own experiences as a protester against the military dictatorship which ended in 1985. Lawmakers would draft a plan to improve public transportation, she said, adding that she supported funding education with royalties from Brazil's oil reserves.

The government would also address shortages in the health care industry by bringing in thousands of doctors from abroad [just where she will find thousands of Portuguese-speaking doctors eager to move to Brazil was unclear - as of 2010 there were only 42,000 authorised doctors in all of Portugal, compared to 360,000 in Brazil]. But by 08 July 2013 the Brazilian government dropped plans to import a contingent of Cuban doctors, and instead began looking to hire physicians in Spain and Portugal. The plan to bring in Cuban doctors created a backlash after Brazilian medical associations argued that standards at Cuba's medical schools were lower than in Brazil and equivalent in some cases to no more than a nursing education.

The focus of demonstrations shifted to sharp criticism of the government's $10 billion (7.5 billion euros) spending on the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games instead of funnelling the funds into health care and education, or curbing Brazil's high crime rate. President Dilma Rousseff on June 18, 2013 sought to defuse a massive protest movement sweeping Brazil, acknowledging the need for better public services and more responsive governance as demonstrations continued in some cities around the country. Speaking the morning after more than 200,000 Brazilians marched in over a half-dozen cities, Rousseff said her government remains committed to social change and is listening attentively to the many grievances expressed at the demonstrations.

Concessions and a call for calm by Brazilian President Rousseff did not deter protesters who again took to the streets on Saturday June 22, 2013. About a quarter of a million [150,000 by other estimates] anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets in several Brazilian cities. Over 60,000 demonstrators chanted and waved banners in Belo Horizonte, where police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters. Smaller rallies took place in several other cities. Some of the protests focused on the billions of dollars being spent for Brazil to host next year's World Cup, this month's Confederations Cup as well as the 2016 Olympic summer games. The demonstrations began on 06 June 2013 [some sources report June 11] as an outcry against a 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares. Protests against a 20 centavo [US$0.09] increase in public transit prices in Sao Paulo soon spread across a number of cities.

President Dilma Rousseff's approval rating sank by 27 percentage points in the last three weeks of June, the evidence the recent wave of protests sweeping Brazil posed a serious threat to her re-election in 2014. The share of people who consider Rousseff's administration "great" or "good" plummeted to 30 percent from 57 percent in early June, according to a Datafolha opinion poll published in local newspaper Folha de S.Paulo on 29 June 2013. The drop was the sharpest for a Brazilian leader since 1990, when Fernando Collor froze all savings accounts in a desperate attempt to stop hyperinflation. The move outraged the population, and within two years Collor resigned the presidency as Congress moved to impeach him over corruption allegations.

The unrest came at a delicate time for Rousseff, whose administration was struggling to rein in high inflation and get the economy back on track after two years of sluggish growth. Polls initially showed Rousseff remained widely popular, but her approval ratings have begun to slip for the first time since taking office in early 2011. According to the CNI/IBOPE poll, the president’s approval ratings dropped from 79 percent to 71 percent between March and June 2013. The socialist-leaning government of President Rousseff may be unable or unwilling to cut programs for the poor to appease the middle class, and this issue will be at the center of the 2014 presidential election.

Eduardo Campos, a prominent presidential candidate in Brazil, and six other people were killed in a plane crash in the southeast of the country 13 august 2014. The small aircraft came down onto houses in the city of Santos. Campos was considered both a modern manager and an old fashioned boss and had been a successful governor of the poor, northeastern state of Pernambuco. Campos, 49, who was on board the plane, was the leader of the left-of-center Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and was set to challenge President Dilma Rousseff in a presidential poll set for 05 October. Campos had about 10 percent of votes for the upcoming poll, according to opinion polls. Rousseff was leading with 36 percent and Senator Aecio Neves had about 20 percent. The presidential campaign was postponed for a period of mourning.

Environmentalist Marina Silva joined the race for president as Brazil's Socialist Party candidate. The candidate who began the election cycle as the running mate of Eduardo Campos made the announcement on August 20, 2014, a week after Campos died in a plane crash. Beto Albuquerque, who heads the party in Brazil's House of Representatives, became Silva's running mate. Campos was polling a distant third behind Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party and the centrist candidate, Aecio Neves. However, polls since Campos' death showed Silva running about even with Neves.

Many political analysts said Silva may be a stronger candidate than Campos, and for a while some polls indicated she might thwart a first-round victory for Rousseff on October 5, or even place first herself. Polls suggested incumbent Dilma Rousseff would lose to her in a likely runoff by 10 points. It was even worse for the opposition’s Aecio Neves, who was almost 20 points behind for the first vote on October 5th. It is so shocking that the talk about the economy and political support is insufficient to affect the newcomer.

If elected, Silva would be the first black, Amazon bred and evangelical president in the country’s history. Silva, an evangelical who belonged in the Catholic Church until the end of the nineties, released her program stating she would fight homophobia and support gay marriage. It took hours for conservative religious leaders to speak out. It took less than a day for the candidate to go backwards, claiming there was a mistake in the edit of her program. Gay rights activists were furious with her.

It was thought Silva would tap into the widespread disdain Brazilians hold for the political class – anger that boiled over into roiling, nationwide anti-government protests in 2013. Opinion polls taken just after the demonstrations over a year ago indicated Silva was among the few political figures unscathed, given her squeaky clean reputation amid what voters say is a sea of corruption. But Silva has not withstood a barrage of attacks labeling her as indecisive and without the mettle needed to lead the globe’s fifth-largest nation.

There were 11 candidates hoping to take this post, however only three of them had real chances to win the election. President Dilma Rousseff, who represents the Worker’s Party, was said to be the main candidate. According to most surveys, over 40 percent of citizens were said to plan to support Rousseff in first-round election. Marina Silva and Aécio Neves were expected to contend for the second place, with Silva having support of 21.4 percent of voters according to one poll, and Neves getting 24 percent.

Opinion surveys indicate around 70 percent of Brazilians say they want change – as made plain by the mammoth anti-government protests in 2013 blasting Brazil’s woeful public services despite the nation’s heavy tax burden. Rousseff promised to expand social programs and continue strong state involvement in the economy. Both Silva and Neves offered more centrist economic approaches, such as central bank independence, more privatizations and the pursuit of trade deals with Europe and the United States.

It was expected that the final decision would only be made after the presidential run-off. According to Brazilian laws, the second run is held when none of the candidates manages to get more than 50 percent of votes in the first run. If none of the candidates gains an outright majority, the runoff would take place on October 26.

With most of the votes counted, incumbent Dilma Rousseff moved to a second round runoff after garnering 41% of the votes. She was expected to face Aécio Neves, who had himselft reportedly received 34% of the ballots. Brazilian Socialist Party candidate Marina Silva was out of the race after receiving only 21% of the votes; a disappointment after some projections had showed her at one point moving to the second round. Silva faced a tough campaign against Rousseff, who attacked Silva’s credibility over her inconsistent political affiliations.

One difference between the two candidates’ platforms lay in their foreign policies. While Rousseff was a fervent supporter of integration in the framework of BRICS and Mercosur, Neves promised to nurture pragmatic relations with leftist Latin American regimes, to pay more attention to Asia, and to cooperate with the US. Neves emphasized insufficiencies in the state line: The Brazilian economy is in recession, inflation is growing, and the Brazilian Real had weakened to a 16-year low. During nearly 12 years in power, the Workers’ Party ushered in strong social programs that have helped lift millions out of poverty and into the middle class. Rousseff’s strongest support came from the poorest, those who are precariously hanging onto gains amid an economy that has sputtered since 2010.

Brazil's president promised to reconcile the country, reboot the economy, fight corruption, and listen to voters’ demand for change in a victory speech late Sunday in the capital, Brasilia. Dilma Rousseff, 66, was re-elected by a narrow margin, winning 51.6 percent of the vote to 48.4 percent for her rival, business favorite Aecio Neves, in a run-off election 26 October 2014. This was the fourth straight win for her Workers' Party (PT).

Billions were stolen in a huge kickback scheme at the national oil company Petrobras. Petrobras profits were funnelled to members of Rousseff’s PT and its allies. A prosecutor's motion 03 March 2015 to open investigations against 54 individuals, including the leaders of both chambers of Congress, meant a swath of Brazil's political elite now felt threatened. About a dozen executives from some of Brazil's biggest construction and engineering firms had been under "preventive arrest" since late 2014. The prevailing view is that the scandal has taken on a life of its own and will spread further if any of the numerous parties under pressure buckle.

Dilma Rousseff was Petrobras board chair during much of the decade-long period when politicians allegedly benefited from huge kickbacks via inflated contracts struck between the oil firm and dozens of companies. Rousseff’s approval rating had fallen by around 20 percentage points since the beginning of the year as the country struggled with a stagnant economy, rising inflation, and a major corruption scandal at the state-run oil company. Forty-two percent of Brazilians thought the left-wing president was doing a “good” or “excellent” job when she narrowly defeated conservative candidate Aécio Neves in a runoff poll on October 26. That figure remained unchanged in December 2014, but plummeted to 23 percent in February 2015.

Close to a million demonstrators marched in cities and towns across Brazil on 15 March 2015 to protest the sluggish economy, rising prices and corruption - and to call for the impeachment of leftist President Dilma Rousseff. The marches across the continent-sized country come as Brazil struggles to overcome economic and political malaise. Rousseff was unlikely to resign or face the impeachment proceedings called for by many opponents. The protests were a sign of a polarized country increasingly unhappy with its leadership.

By mid-March 2015 Rousseff, elected for a second term in 2014, lacked the approval of the majority of Brazilians for the first time since taking over the presidency in January 2011. About 62 percent of Brazilians said they found her rule either "bad" or "terrible," according to Datafolha's. Only 13 percent of respondents are satisfied with the current president, the survey said.

Tens of thousands of protesters across Brazil called on President Dilma Rousseff to step down 16 August 2015, blaming her and the leftist Workers' Party for the corruption and economic troubles besetting Latin America's biggest country. Austerity measures replaced the economic go-go years fueled by Chinese demand for commodities, while an ever-expanding bribes and embezzlement probe centered on state oil company Petrobras ripped through the country's elite. In April, at least 600,000 people turned out against Rousseff and her Workers' Party (PT) and more than a million in March. It initially appeared the August protests, the third of their kind this year, had drawn relatively modest crowds.

Rousseff’s popularity ratings have fallen to a level not seen since 1992, when President Fernando Collor de Mello was forced from office after being impeached for corruption. A poll in August 2015 showed only 8% of those surveyed considered Brazil’s government to be “great” or “good.” By contrast, 71% said the government was a “failure.”

Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of the lower house of Brazil's parliament, said on 02 December 2015 that impeachment proceedings had been opened against President Dilma Rousseff. Cunha said he officially accepted an impeachment petition, which was filed by opposition figures on the grounds that Rousseff manipulated the budget to fill budget holes.

An impeachment trial was still a long way off, however, as the procedure must pass several stages before it can reach a vote to oust the leader. As part of the next step, two-thirds of the lower house must approve the impeachment process for it to then move forward.

The 1994 constitutional revision reduced the Presidential mandate to four years, and in 1997 Congress approved an amendment allowing reelection.

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