Archive for the ‘elections’ Category

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.


Brazil: Hacking the reporters

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Miriam Leitão and Carlos Alberto Sardenberg, outstanding journalists who report on the many corruption scandals of the Dilma years, found out they were being hacked and smeared by someone using a computer address inside the Planalto presidential palace.

Ooopsie!

Or should I have a Captain Louis Renault moment?

I mean, “I’m shocked, shocked” that the journalists have come under attack by someone who doesn’t have enough brains to realize a computer address inside the Planalto could be located.

But I digress.

What’s interesting is the blowback; Mac Margolis:

Launching stealth attacks on critics from within the presidential palace plays well with the party faithful, but maybe less so at the voting booth. Although official probes in Brazil rarely reach the highest office, the blowback from the smear campaign suggests that Rousseff’s road to re-election will be fraught.

Brazil’s general election’s scheduled for October 5th. The Economist calls the presidential campaign “A tightly scripted telenovela.”

Video below the fold, since it starts right away,
(more…)

Brazil: Opposition now has Arminio Fraga

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Arminio Fraga, president of Brazil’s central bank from 1999 to 2002 under the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration, is now back in the game:
Brazil Ex-Insider Returns to Help Oust President
With slow growth and high inflation hurting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s chances of winning a second term, former central banker Arminio Fraga joins the opposition to persuade voters that Brazil needs a new economic steward.

Mr. Fraga appears to be positioning himself as something of an inflation whisperer. As president of Brazil’s central bank from 1999 to 2002 under the administration of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, he helped stabilize the currency and rein in consumer prices. Mr. Fraga supports restrained public spending, tough inflation targeting and a floating exchange rate, policies that became known in Brazil as the “economic tripod.”

He is highly critical of the Rousseff administration’s decision slow inflation by capping gasoline prices and electricity rates, moves he dismissed as “gimmicks.” He’s also alarmed that Brazil’s central bank has been intervening regularly in the currency markets to prop up Brazil’s real against the dollar, a strategy he ridicules a “populist move.”

Mr. Fraga said these are stopgap measures that already are proving unworkable and that Brazil needs to focus on long-term fundamentals like increasing private investment and balancing its books.

The fact that earlier this year Standard & Poor downgraded Brazil´s long term bonds credit rating to one notch above junk doesn’t help Dilma – but you have to remember that, even when Dilma’s the candidate, Lula is the man to beat.

Colombia: The view from Venezuela

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Daniel of Venezuela News and Views, on Santos’s reelection win in Colombia:

What the Castros are getting today with a weakened Santos that owes his seat now to minority leftists in Bogota, is neutrality on Venezuela troubles. We can be almost certain that the Santos second term will not see visits of opposition leaders at Casa de Nariño. Santos second term will never confront UNASUR, and even less about Venezuela. In short, prolonging Havana negotiations between Santos and FARC for a year or two is enough for Colombia to leave alone Maduro until he can exterminate Venezuelan opposition, including massive electoral fraud next year. Then, with chavismo unmovable once and for all, it will always be time to turn the gaze toward taking over Colombia, helped by a Correa in Ecuador who know has taken the open dictatorship road with his own plans for eternal reelection. Well, that is the idea anyway.

UPDATE:
Linked to by NotiDia. Thank you!

Colombia: Winning an election the old-fashioned way?

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Pres. Juan Manuel Santos won re-election yesterday, and many are displeased, but the most vocal is former president and now senator Álvaro Uribe, who accuses Santos of electoral fraud, buying votes, and allowing the FARC to intimidate voters.

In his statement yesterday, Uribe charged Santos of “the biggest corruption in history, in the name of peace”, by

  • handing out money to legislators to buy votes,
  • offering government money to mayors and governors to make them illegally participate in the Santos campaign,
  • buying votes
  • violating the law
  • using State funds to publicize the Santos campaign
  • failing to counter threats of massacre against Zuluaga voters from terrorist groups such as FARC and criminal gangs
  • failing to counter violent pressure from terrorist groups so voters would vote for Santos

Here’s his speech (in Spanish)

“Santos prevaricated by not rejecting armed terrorists’ support who forced [people] to vote for him and threatened to massacre Zuluaga’s supporters”

Many Colombians are concerned that under a peace deal many thousands of rebels will form drug-trafficking gangs.

Colombia: The #WorldCup team won; will Santos? UPDATED

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

UPDATE:

Earlier today,

Today’s Colombia’s run-off election.

2014 World Cup: Colombia beats Greece 3-0 in Group C opener.

Pres. Santos thinks it’ll get him another term:
Colombian Leader Sets Goal: Win Soccer Match, Then Win Presidency
President Juan Manuel Santos, Whose Job Is at Stake in a Sunday Election, Hopes for a Political Assist from His World Cup Team.
I don’t quite get the logic, but apparently it has to do with the thought that larger turnout would favor Santos,

Political strategists say a Colombian victor [sic] against Greece on Saturday in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, could generate a broad feel-good moment for Colombia, drive higher voter turnout the next day and tip the scales in Mr. Santos’s favor over his rival, Óscar Iván Zuluaga.

That’s assuming that

  1. The fans are not hungover, and they’ll want to go out and vote, and 
  2. The fans are not staying home or at the sports bar or sports club watching whatever other game may be on:
  3. Ricardo Rodríguez, a soccer-loving doorman from Bogotá, is one fan who plans to forgo voting Sunday. “It’s a thousand times better to see soccer than to go out to vote,” he said.

I don’t know enough of Colombian political thinking to guess whether the average Joe conflates the soccer team with “team Santos”, if at all.

We’ll find out later this evening.