Brazil’s upcoming Presidential election could signal a sea change in the country’s foreign policy if the challenger wins. Under current President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil has favored leftist policies abroad as well as at home; opponent Marina Silva might change that. As Brazilian ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso told Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald:
“Yes, I think there would be changes” if Silva wins, Cardoso told me. “The opposition’s victory would mean a kind of rupture in Brazil’s foreign policy, especially in regards to South America.”Under Rousseff, he said, “there is a paralysis in Brazil’s foreign policy” because she has been focused on trying to revitalize South America’s ailing Mercosur common market instead of trying to simultaneously sign free-trade agreements with the European Union, the United States and Japan.“Many government officials are, to put it in a simple word, ‘Bolivarian,’” Cardoso told me. “In their hearts, they are with [the late Venezuelan president Hugo] Chávez. But not in their heads, because they know that Brazil’s interests don’t coincide with that ideology. As a result, they don’t know what to do. They are paralyzed.”Cardoso added that the government’s prevailing view “is outdated, Third World-ish, from the ’60s or ’70s. I don’t think that Marina Silva shares that outdated vision. She has a more open-minded view of the world.”
(See also Walter Russell Mead’s interview with Cardoso back in 2011).If Rousseff loses and Cardoso’s read on Silva is right, Brazil will tilt much more heavily against Venezuela, Argentina, and the Latin leftist axis. How might Latin America develop with both Mexico and Brazil on strong reform courses at the same time?Brazilians go to the polls on October 5, with a runoff election scheduled for October 26. Keep an eye out—this one could change the game.