Archive for the ‘elections’ Category

Brazil: The election was tweeted

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

After Vote, Brazilians Lash Out on Social Media
A day after President Dilma Rousseff squeaked out a close electoral victory, Brazilian voters vented their frustrations one way they know best: on social media.

Many Neves supporters, hailing largely from Brazil’s wealthier south, joked they would be packing their bags to flee to Miami or Orlando. Some posted images showing Brazil divided into two, with the poorer northeastern states which supported Ms. Rousseff hived off into a separate country.

The reactions underscored the divisiveness of the elections, which were the closest in Brazilian history.

Considering all the factors, it would have taken a miracle from God Himself for Neves to win.

Dilma claims, “I want to be a much better president than I have been until now,” which rather fills me with dread, considering how

Brazil has chosen to warehouse a quarter of its population into welfare serfdom for nothing more than the benefit of leftist parties and their grasp on power.

“Better,” for what?



Elections: No change in Brazil, Uruguay

Monday, October 27th, 2014

First Uruguay: Same old, same old, in age and in politics,
Since Pepe Mujica could not run for a second term according to the Uruguayan Constitution, an election took place yesterday, which now goes to a runoff

Leftist ruling coalition candidate Tabare Vazquez led Uruguay’s presidential election on Sunday but he fell short of a first-round victory and will go to a runoff vote next month with the country’s pioneering marijuana bill hanging in the balance.

Vazquez of the Broad Front coalition said as results trickled in that the race would go to a second round and he is likely to face a nerve-jangling contest against young center-right opposition candidate, Luis Lacalle Pou.

Exit polls showed Vazquez winning 44-46 percent of the vote compared with 31-33 percent for Lacalle Pou of the National Party.

The 74 year old Vazquez first was president in 2005, and it looks like he’s going for a rerun. Lacalle Pou is 41.

Also going for a rerun, Brazilians choose to remain “the country of the future”:
Brazil Sticks With Statism
Odds are that the country’s reputation for economic mediocrity is safe for another four years.

Neither Lula nor Ms. Rousseff seem to care about development. According to Goldman Sachs , from 2004-13 government spending grew at almost 8% a year, in real terms, which was more than twice the rate of GDP growth. Inflation is now 7% year-over-year on prices for goods and services not regulated by price controls and 8.6% for services alone. Inflationary expectations are rising.

More worrying is the damage the PT might do to institutions and the rule of law over another 48 months. Civil society here jealously guards civil liberties and pluralism. But as one astute businessman told me, “We are noticing, bit by bit, a trend toward copying Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. The tendency is to reduce democracy.” One example is Ms. Rousseff’s May decree empowering “popular councils,” which would move the country away from representative democracy à la Venezuela. Congress has so far refused to approve the measure but if the usual vote-buying goes on, that may change.

To celebrate, Dilma wore a suit that matched the drapes and her politics,

What may be the most consequential election of the decade

Friday, October 24th, 2014

I wrote today on What may be the most consequential election of the decade. Go read it at Da Tech Guy Blog.

Brazil: Aécio’s plan is the economy

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

In the wake of Dilma’s dismal administration, Aécio Neves will campaign until the Oct. 26 run-off against failing state-run economics. He has Marina Silva’s backing:

Brazil Candidate to Hit Rival on Economy
Brazil’s pro-business candidate Aécio Neves plans to hammer the state-centric economic policies of his rival, President Dilma Rousseff, before their Oct. 26 electoral showdown.

While blaming the president for Brazil’s 6.5% inflation rate, stagnant growth and lackluster productivity, Mr. Neves will tout his achievements as a former two-term governor of prosperous Minas Gerais state, taking credit for rescuing it from near-bankruptcy by cutting expenses and boosting revenue under a program dubbed “management shock.”

And he will criticize a series of scandals that have tarnished Ms. Rousseff’s center-left Workers’ Party, or PT, which has dominated Brazilian politics for 12 years, including alleged widespread corruption and cronyism at state-owned companies like oil giant Petrobras.

From commenter N,

there are some interesting voting maps around (on the web) showing that Dilma Roussef’s votes correlate almost perfectly with he number of people receiving federal government’s handouts.

Neves has his work cut out for him,

Ms. Rousseff starts the runoff as the favorite given the leftist drift of Brazilian politics, but Mr. Neves has a chance if he can convince voters that her policies are responsible for Brazil’s current malaise and that he has a better agenda. Brazil’s populist, redistributionist policies have squandered its potential for decades, and more of the same for another four years won’t bring the change the country needs.

I wish him luck.



Brazil: Aécio goes to the runoff

Monday, October 6th, 2014

While the local and international press were busy talking about Marina Silva, voters were looking at pro-market senator Aécio Neves:

Brazilian Challenger Faces Tough Task in Presidential Runoff
Economist Who Overcame Popular Upstart Will Try to Woo Poorer Voters

Mr. Neves has said he would go after Ms. Rousseff on what he considers her vulnerability: Brazil’s struggling economy. He has vowed to slash government ministries, simplify Brazil’s tax code and tackle inflation.

Popular with investors and businessmen, Mr. Neves has said that, if elected, he would appoint respected economist Arminio Fraga, the former head of the central bank, to be his finance minister.

The reason for Neves’s ascendance?

the economy is undergoing a wrenching U-turn. Brazil slipped into recession this year after four years of stagnation, and inflation is on the rise. The state-owned oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA is mired in alleged embezzlement and other scandals. Since Ms. Rousseff took office, the real has lost a third of its value against the dollar and the stock market is down by 21%.

Silva was Dilma-light, and Dilma promises “More Changes, More Future.”

The question is, Does Aécio have the personality to sway the uneducated, low-information, low-income voter?

Brazil: More of the same?

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

The Economist reports on Pre-election spending in Brazil
A final splurge

The primary deficit (before interest payments) reached 14.4 billion reais ($5.9 billion) in that month, the fourth in a row in which the government has failed to put aside cash to pay creditors. The consolidated primary surplus in the eight months to August stood at just 0.3% of GDP. Most of that came from the states; the central government managed just 1.5 billion reais, a piffling 0.05% of GDP and the worst result for the period since 1998. The overall budget deficit climbed to 4% of output, the highest level since Ms Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, embarked on a huge stimulus package in 2009, as the global financial crisis took hold.

In turn,

On September 30th the ratings agency told an investors’ conference in São Paulo that it will refrain from re-appraising Brazil’s credit risk until 2016, once it becomes apparent what the next government is doing to tackle weak growth (which will average just 1.5-1.7% a year during Ms Rousseff’s four years in power), and a wonky budget.

On paper, Marina Silva, candidate of the centrist Brazilian Socialist party, promises a more responsible fiscal policy. So does Aécio Neves of the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy, the most market-friendly of the main contenders.

The odds odds Neves winning are slim-to-none. Silva is getting a lot of media attention, particularly in foreign media outlets, but Dilma will most likely win, as a commenter points out,

Perhaps you`re right, and that awful woman will be reelected. But not only because she has a “huge… and well funded political machine”. She also has absolutely no scruples whatsoever about lying, scheming and – most importantly – putting the gigantic State machine to work full-time for her campaign. Disgraceful. Worse times ahead for us Brazilians.

Brazil: Dilma up in the polls

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Brazil is holding a presidential election this Sunday.

The Miami Herald has this headline,
Brazil heads into white-knuckle presidential race — Bolivia, Uruguay follow
It’s an active political season in South America. As Brazil and Uruguay head into tight presidential races, Bolivian President Evo Morales is poised to clench a third term.

For the moment, all eyes are on Brazil, which is in a technical recession and expected to grow by less than 1 percent this year. That means the election will largely turn on voters’ perceptions of who can best lift the world’s eighth-largest economy out of the doldrums.

In 2010, the year Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla and hand-picked choice of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was elected, the economy grew 7.5 percent. It slowed to 2.7 percent the following year as the shocks of the global financial crisis took their toll.

But as other Latin American economies improved, Rousseff, stubbornly sticking to centralized economic policy, hasn’t been able to rekindle growth.

That’s true, but, perhaps more importantly, Dilma has a huge, well established and funded, political machine. Hence, I was not surprised by this other headline,
Brazil Leader Regains Edge in Election Polls
Two new electoral polls shows Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff widening her lead over her main challenger in a likely second-round runoff, surveys that disappointed many investors who hope for the incumbent’s ouster.

After a fast rise, Ms. Silva appears to be fading as she heads into this Sunday’s first round of voting. She surged in the polls after announcing that she would run for president in the place of running mate Eduardo Campos, who died in a plane crash Aug. 13. Voters fed up with politics as usual flocked to her in the early going. So did investors and businessmen who liked her market-friendly mix of ideas for getting tough on inflation and reducing state interference in the economy.

But a barrage of television attack ads by Ms. Rousseff has taken a toll on Ms. Silva, who so far has been unwilling and unable to respond in kind. Under Brazil’s unique election laws, Ms. Silva has only a fraction of the TV time allotted to Ms. Rousseff and third-place candidate Aécio Neves in the initial round of voting. Ms. Silva has also refused to go negative in her own campaign ads, despite encouragement from supporters to fight back.

Questions about her toughness persisted after she cried in front of a reporter following an interview. And her campaign has appeared disorganized and unprepared at times, lacking the depth and experience of Ms. Rousseff’s team.

I fully expect Dilma to win.

White knuckle? Not so much.



Brazil: Marina Silva is now frontrunner

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

The former Lula cabinet member is now ahead in the polls:
Brazil’s Marina Silva Woos Farmers Ahead of Presidential Poll
Frontrunner Needs Powerful Agriculture Lobby She Alienated as Environment Minister

Ms. Silva doesn’t need the support of farmers like Mr. Ceolin to win the elections in October—an initial Oct. 5 vote and what polls indicate will be an inevitable runoff. All the polls taken since she officially became the Socialists’ candidate, replacing the late candidate Eduardo Campos, show her beating incumbent Dilma Rousseff in the Oct. 26 runoff.

But if she becomes president, strong opposition from Brazil’s wealthy and influential agricultural sector could make governing more difficult, said Paulo Calmon, a political-science professor at the University of Brasilia.

Additionally,

Ms. Silva promises to end Ms. Rousseff’s policy of forcing state-controlled oil company Petrobras to subsidize the price of gasoline to help control inflation, a policy that ethanol producers have strongly criticized because cheaper gasoline boosts competition for ethanol fuel. The Silva stance doesn’t just play to farmers: The prospect of less interference with Petrobras has boosted the company’s shares, and the benchmark Ibovespa stocks index, to the highest levels in more than a year.

Will see how it all develops; Guido Mantega, the finance minister for the last eight years, is on his way out.

Colombia: Was military intelligence hacked?

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Latest headlines in Colombia,
Detained Colombia hacker outlines alleged political plot against peace process
Andrés Sepúlveda, an alleged computer hacker who was detained in May, says political rivals of President Santos were using classified information to derail Colombia’s peace process.

The FARC certainly has been doing enough derailing on its part, but here’s the story at hand: President Santos ordered authorities to conduct a thorough investigation

The reaction comes after Andrés Sepúlveda, an alleged hacker who has been in custody since May, told Semana in a jailhouse interview that he had been hired by Uribe’s Centro Democrático party to help undermine the talks and support the presidential bid of the party’s candidate Oscar Iván Zuluaga.

In the interview, Sepúlveda said he was ordered to use his skills to turn the armed forces and public opinion against the peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in Havana. To do that, he said he purchased classified information from military intelligence and other groups that he fed to party officials.

So what was it? Did Sepúlveda actually hacked, or was he buying information? If he was buying information “from military intelligence,” why the need to turn the armed forces against the FARC negotiations?

Here comes the more interesting part,

Sepúlveda said that he provided members of Zuluaga’s campaign information about the FARC’s negotiating team, including private emails. But he said the Centro Democrático party was also receiving classified information gleaned from the hacked communications of government negotiators in Cuba.

Considering how Santos has thrown the towel and wants the FARC in congress without being elected, that information should be released to the public.

Indeed,

The discovery of Sepulveda’s spy operation came three months after Semana exposed a covert military intelligence scheme to monitor both government and FARC representatives to the peace talks in Havana as well as journalists covering the negotiations.

However, Sepúlveda alleges that he hacked the military, a whole different thing altogether.

Other reports say that

Sepulveda claims to have bought information from the military’s “Andromeda” intelligence program, a CIA-funded covert wiretapping operation exposed earlier this year and also accused of spying on the peace talks.

Buying information is the old-fashioned George Smiley way; not hacking.

Now

Sepulveda’s brother has testified that the alleged hacker is “receiving pressure” from “high officials” of the Prosecutor General’s Office to speak out against “certain individuals,” a claim that has also been issued publicly by Sepulveda’s wife.

To answer the question, was Colombian military intelligence hacked?, Sean Mullholand, Brigadier General of the US Southern Command, has asserted a definite no, insisting that there is no chance it was hacked.

On his part, Santos claims, “what existed and exists is a criminal enterprise,” which really leaves no room for the benefit of the doubt.

Álvaro Uribe is striking back, and hard,

Santo’s hacker advisor always: in campaigns, in infamies, and in smokescreen to hide the drug traffic campaign money

Santos also has released his agenda for the day he allegedly met the hacker,

 

Let’s not forget that Uribe accused Santos Santos of electoral fraud, buying votes, and allowing the FARC to intimidate voters to obtain re-election.

As Drudge says, developing.

Brazil: Socialist Party candidate dies in plane crash

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

We talked about this in last night’s podcast:

Brazilian Candidate Dies in Crash
Eduardo Campos, the Brazilian Socialist Party candidate for president, was killed in the crash of a private jet, upending the October election.

A leftist who was also friendly to business and tough on crime. Mr. Campos had hoped to appeal to both progressives and fiscal conservatives, but his campaign had trouble gaining traction. A recent poll had shown him with about 8% of the likely vote—a distant third behind Ms. Rousseff and her main rival, Aécio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party.

Campos was in third place behind Dilma and Aécio, but the accident may affect the SP’s standing,

Those standings could change, however, if Mr. Campos is succeeded at the top of the ticket by his popular running mate, Marina Silva, who ran for president herself in 2010 and won about 19% of the vote.

Ms. Silva had been exploring another presidential run again this year, but when her own party, Rede Sustentabilidade, was unable to meet the requirements to get her onto the ballot, she joined Mr. Campos’s ticket as vice president.

A deeply religious, environmental activist, Ms. Silva could attract votes from both the left and right in a way that Mr. Campos couldn’t, said João Augusto de Castro Neves, Latin America director at the Eurasia Group think tank in Washington.

“She will threaten both Dilma and Aécio,” he said.

It was a horrible crash: the plane’s fall damaged seven houses:

O Globo reports that firemen have found the plane’s cabin and Campos’s wallet (link in Portuguese).

In addition to the seven killed who were aboard the plane, there were six residents injured.