October 30, 2006

HUGO WHO?:

Brazilian President Wins Second Term By Sizable Margin (Monte Reel, 10/30/06, Washington Post)

[Former Sao Paulo state Gov. Geraldo] Alckmin's promises of lower taxes and more rapid growth of the gross domestic product also failed to energize voters. That the economy grew by only about 2.5 percent last year -- one of the most sluggish rates in Latin America -- seemed less important to many voters than the lowered inflation and currency gains of the past four years. For many, Alckmin was simply the person to direct protest votes toward, a passive foil in an election completely defined by the charismatic but controversial Lula.

"This has nothing to do with Alckmin," said Gerson Costa, 37, a graphic designer who voted for Alckmin on Sunday. "It's a clear referendum on Lula. In 2002, I voted for Lula because I thought, 'This guy will be different.' I was wrong, and now I can't stand him."

During his first term, Lula approached foreign policy pragmatically, preferring to play the role of negotiator rather than firebrand. Lula has preserved free-market economic reforms implemented by his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and has tried to serve as a communicator able to maintain generally friendly relations with both Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and President Bush. On Sunday he said that he has tried to encourage regional trade alliances, citing his strong support of South America's Mercosur trading bloc as an example of his regional leadership.

Analysts said that in his second term, Lula will be pressured to enact major reforms of Brazil's large labor sector and enormous pension system, which many believe could prevent the country from reaching growth rates needed to sustain the poverty reduction measures Lula achieved during his first term.


If they get in the habit of holding elections between two free-market, anti-inflation, pro-American candidates, they should eventually get the Latin America seat in the reformed UN Security Council.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 30, 2006 7:57 AM
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