It’s official: Dilma Rousseff has won re-election to a second term as President of Brazil. Her margin of victory was narrow—she captured 51.6 percent of the vote compared to the 48.4 percent won by her opponent, the center-right candidate Aecio Neves. The BBC has more:
The vote split Latin America’s biggest country almost evenly in two, along lines of social class and geography.Whereas Dilma Rousseff did well in the poorer northern states, her opponent from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) took many of the wealthier and more developed southern parts of Brazil.
Rousseff’s gain could be Brazil’s loss. Her government has been drifting toward the kind of statism that in the past has saddled Brazil with massive debts, bloated state industries, crony capitalism run amok, and recurring bouts of inflation. But Dilma’s policies aren’t the biggest challenge her re-election will pose to the country. Her Worker’s Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores or PT) is now beginning its fourth term of uninterrupted power (before Rousseff, the PT leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva held the office of President for two terms). Her victory therefore raises the prospect that is going to entrench itself as a state within a state, building electoral and patronage machines and increasingly steering government spending toward pet projects.It’s a good thing for democracies when voters prevent one party from becoming too powerful or too entrenched by occasionally throwing incumbents out of office. That has not happened with the PT. In its first term, Dilma’s government was already showing its age, dogged by one corruption scandal after another. It’s possible that in its fourth term of power the PT could show some unaccustomed restraint. Dilma herself could govern more as president of Brazil than as the leader of a party or a movement. The opposition could manage to present and debate concrete alternatives. But unless those three things happen—and we’re not holding our breath—Brazil’s democratic institutions could come under stress. Freedom of the press and courageous investigative journalism will be crucial to whether Brazilian democracy flourishes in the next four years. We salute Brazil’s independent journalists and wish them all the best.