Why Dilma Rousseff Still Won Brazil's Presidential Election?
Yet Dilma Rousseff has won re-election as president of Brazil. Before that, there were street protests over the rising cost of public transport and government spending on the World Cup, and the games themselves had ended in disaster with a humiliating 7-1 defeat for Brazil at the hands of Germany. Rousseff's Workers' Party has been in power for 12 years, and a lot of rich and powerful people were ready for a change.
But, why Dilma Rousseff still won the election? How did this happen?
It could be because the majority of Brazilians are looking at the 12-year record of the Workers' Party and, for those old or literate enough to remember, comparing this to the past. For the vast majority, the changes are quite striking.
Despite the slowdown of the past few years and the 2009 world recession, Brazil's GDP per person grew by an average of 2.5 percent annually from 2003 to 2014. This was more than three times the growth rate during the preceding two terms of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who implemented "Washington Consensus" policies and remains a much-preferred statesman in the U.S. capital.
This return to growth, plus the government's use of increased revenues to boost social spending, has reduced Brazil's poverty rate by 55 percent and extreme poverty by 65 percent. Unemployment has fallen to a record low of 4.9 percent.
The poor have most obviously benefitted from the transformation of the Brazilian economy, and this is reflected in the polls. But it is not just the poor who improved their well-being: With a median household income of only about $800, the vast majority of Brazilians were set to gain from the rising wages, shrinking unemployment, and significantly increased pensions that the last decade had brought.
The majority of Brazilians got a lot of what they voted for. They may want more, and they should - but they are unlikely to opt for a return to the past. Dilma Rousseff seems like someone who wants the best for Brazil.