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by http://www.humanite.fr/journal/2006-10-31/2006-10-31-839591

Brazil: Welcome to Lula II

Translated Wednesday 8 November 2006

Brazil. The incumbent president of Brazil, decisively re-elected on 31 October, with close to 61% of the vote, announces his priorities: to fight against poverty, to increase growth and introduce political reform.

On Sunday 31 October, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva registered a decisive win in the second round of the Brazilian presidential election. With close to 61% of the vote, he leaves his rightist rival of the PSDB – the Brazilian Social Democratic Party - far behind. Geraldo Alckmin, credited with 39% of the vote, largely unknown on the political scene until the first round. After the announcement of Lula’s victory, thousands of his supporters took to the streets in the major Brazilian cities, notably in Sao Paulo, on the main avenue of the megalopolis, the Paulista, sporting red tee-shirts, waving flags with the Workers Party (PT) logo and singing their favorite song: “Olé, olé, olé, ola, Lula, Lula...”

As soon as his victory was confirmed by the Superior Electoral Court, Lula committed himself to governing for “all Brazilians”, while, at the same time, pursuing the fight against poverty. “The poor are going to have top priority in our government”, he said, paying homage in this way to the millions who have never stopped supporting and showing their confidence in him.

Mapping out a new direction

So now it’s time for “Lula II”. In his first speech to the voters, he affirmed that “there is now a solid base for Brazil to achieve an extraordinary qualitative advance”. Lula promised that “Brazil will reach a level of development which will place it among the developed countries”. In the spirit of the previous mandate, there will be no re-evaluation of the “fundamentals” of the economy: “rigorous” budgetary policy to absorb public deficits, increase in economic growth, redistribution of the wealth, fight against corruption, are all priorities of the next government. “The solution of Brazil’s problems is not to be found in making the people suffer under heavy structural adjustments ... but in economic growth and the redistribution of income”, said Lula, promising a growth-rate of 5% (against 2.5% presently), that will be possible, according to him, by the launching of major projects.

To succeed in this economic policy, Brazil will have to loosen the reins. It will no longer be a question of strict financial orthodoxy, as under, Antonio Palocci, finance minister until March 2006. One of the organizers of the electoral campaign, Tarso Genro, minister of institutional relations, asserted that this era was finished: “The low rates of economic growth and the neurotic concern about inflation, without thinking about the distribution of wealth and economic growth - this is now something of the past.” At the end of September, Brasilia had started to lower interest rates, among the highest in the world, and widely blamed for slowing down investments. For Genro, the future lies in “combining the reduction of inflation with the objectives of economic growth”.

Ending corruption

Another priority for Lula at the beginning of his second mandate: political reform, the major promise “forgotten” during the last 4 years. The repeated scandals make this an urgent priority: the Workers’ Party has put it as one of its top priorities. “We will develop all the necessary alliances to be able to work in harmony and adopt the major projects which Brazil needs,” Lula promised. “Above all, I want to work with the political parties, the opposition, the state governors.”

Lula’s first mandate was dominated by numerous scandals: the corruption originating typically in the government having to obtain, one way on another, majority votes for its policies. This often meant a somewhat devious game of making unnatural alliances. But these dealings ended up by smearing his own party, the PT. The political-financial scandals and the official enquiries currently before the courts will certainly weigh on the new government.

Lula certainly has the means to make the political and institutional system more transparent. The PT controls 5 of the 27 States (including Para, which it gained on 31 October) and a majority of the state governors support this policy. In the Congress, where the PT only lost a few seats, the situation is not so clear: Lula II can have a majority in the Chamber of Deputies but only by forming alliances with other Parties. This won’t be an option in the Senate, dominated by the centre and the right parties.

Finally, he made no secret of the fact that he wished to address the question of the reform of the PT, beheaded twice by scandals. Many militants of the party are demanding this, all the more so since the emergence on the left of the PT of the PSOL (the Socialism and Liberty Party, ex-PT militants dissatisfied with the Party’s performance), committed to correcting the ethical and moral errors of the PT.

“We no longer have the moral, ethical or political right to make mistakes. When anyone talks of the PT, they are not talking about its leadership but of its millions of supporters. The PT is not just a Party, but the institution of politics in Brazil”, Lula exclaimed on this triumphant Sunday night.

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