Lula is setting his sight on Dilma Rousseff
March 7, visiting Rio de Janeiro President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced the start of the full-scale improvement works in several favelas (shanty towns) of Rio de Janeiro, which works are a part of the PAC (Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento – A program to accelerate the economic grow).
Valdo Cruz, a reporter for the daily Folha de São Paulo states that, although Lula denies, the implementation of the full-scale scheme serves electoral means. Not even Valdo Cruz belittles the crucial importance of the works to be executed, but reminds us that never before the federal government have been projecting works of this size and with this impact.
“To say, that this program has nothing to do with the upcoming elections is not correct. It is evident, that if the program is successfully executed, this will be beneficial to the position of the government in the elections.”
According to the columnist, Lula spoke about Dilma Rousseff (Casa Civil) as the “Mother of the PAC” and exactly this, still according to Valdo Cruz, proves that Rousseff is the candidate for succession. Asked about a possible PT-candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic, Dilma answered that she only is the coordinator of the PAC.
But who is Dilma Rousseff?
Dilma Vana Rousseff Linhares, born 14 Dec 1947 in Belo Horizonte, is economist and politician, allied to the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Labour Party), and actually minister of the Casa Civil (Casa Civil is more and less the Ministry for Internal Affairs, you could say the Home Office, but the minister is also the First Minister, as it is called here: super-minister, second only to the president as in Brazil the president is the top-executive). She studied at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, graduated in theoretical economy and with Unicamp she got her doctorate in monetary and financial economy.
In the 1960’s, during the military dictatorship, she was a member of leftist clandestine organisations and took part in armed actions. From 1970 to 1973 she was a prisoner and was tortured. In 2003 Dilma became Minister of Mining and Energy and since 21 June 2005 she is the Minister of the Casa Civil.
As minister of Mining and Energy she gained a lot of praise after implementing a new energy model. Her model basically concentrated on two goals: decreasing the energy bills for the consumer and securing the expansion of the energy system, to avoid a new energy crisis as seen in 2001.
The execution of the new model is seen as a classic example of her way the minister is functioning. According to professional outsiders Dilma has the quality to listen and to stimulate ideas, keeping the right of decision making to herself.
The recognition of her technical competence does not protect her from clinching with members of parliament, as she consistently refuses to appoint their (traditionally useless) friends in lucrative positions. Representatives as well as party leaders for the PT are irritated with the controlling influence Dilma and her fellow minister Tarso Genro (Justice) have on Lula.
Running off to the presidential elections
It is obvious that Lula is investigating the eligibility of Dilma as his successor in 2010. For Lula it is a thorn in his flesh that no viable and eligible candidate has arisen in a natural way from the party circles and it is unacceptable for him that the presidency might go to the opposition. Although Dilma denies to be seen as a candidate for president, her recent metamorphose is impressive. Generally very reserved and distant, she suddenly starts to be seen at parties, travelling with Lula and meeting the press frequently. She takes part in photo sessions and spends the best part of her time in political meetings.
The public appearance of the minister is the first strategic move of Lula in his battle against a paradox. After all Lula himself enjoys high popularity rates and commands a government which, in spite of numerous scandals, is well rated by the populace, but is lacking a “natural” successor. Without exception all opinion polls point to the candidates of the opposition as being the favourites (Brazil has a multi party system). The president expects, that his popularity if it remains that way till the elections in 2010, will guaranty the second round for any by him appointed or endorsed candidate.
In the most recent polls the name of Dilma Rousseff was included in the list of possible candidates. Dilma received 5,4% of the vote intention, in contrast with José Serra, the candidate for the opposition party PSDB (Serra was Lula’s opponent in the elections of 2002 and 2006 and belongs to the party of former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso). Lula however is convinced that he can catapult the results.
Just yet Dilma holds back. She thinks she is not sufficiently experienced, is not known well enough by the populace and feels she has not the talent to become a political leader. To improve her obscurity Lula decided that Dilma will accompany him on all his travels. Counter attacking the resistance of the party leaders, who refuse to see a legitimate candidate in Dilma, Lula stipulates that between all possible candidates for the PT, Dilma will be the most likely in the elections. And finally, he argues it is the global movement in politics where more and more female leaders step into the front.
That lefts Lula with the largest problem: How to make Dilma smile. Obscurity is something you can overcome by arranging to get visible, that’s easy. A smiling Dilma is a different cookie, as she has to do it herself, nobody can do it for her.
In the most optimistic projections, market researchers and politician agree that any presidential candidate endorsed by Lula will obtain some 25% to 30% of the popular vote, enough to continue the battle in the second round. But that’s not all. “Only Lula's support will not win the elections. The candidate not only needs a good curriculum but needs impressive political self-confidence to get elected.” says Ricardo Guedes, director of market researcher Sensus.