Brazil's Rousseff may replace key minister if re-elected

The stagnant economy has been a persistent problem for Dilma Rousseff but making changes to her economic team may be an attempt to curry favor with the markets where she has grown unpopular.

Brazil's Rousseff may replace key minister if re-elected

World Bulletin / News Desk

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has hinted that if re-elected next month, she would not reappoint Finance Minister Guido Mantega.

When reporters in Fortaleza asked Rousseff about Mantega’s role if she were re-elected, she responded that, “A new election means a new government, a new team.”

"I won't speak [of appointments]. Do you want to know why? Because it brings bad luck to talk about something that hasn't happened yet. Nevertheless, it will be a new government; it will require a new staff. I have no doubt about that," she added.

Removing Mantega would likely be an attempt to appeal to the markets as the country’s stagnant economy has been a persistent problem for Rousseff, despite repeated attempts to stimulate growth, particularly through consumption.

Marcos Troyjo, director of the BRICLab at Columbia University, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Rousseff and her mentor, former-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, or Lula, were likely looking for a new appointment in an attempt to appeal to the business sector and calm the markets.

“I don’t think that Dilma blames [Mantega] for the struggle of the economy, but I do think that she knows that she needs to signal change to the market and perhaps sufficient short-term change, in her view, will be achieved by replacing Mantega with someone else,” Troyjo said.

Rousseff is deeply unpopular with Brazil’s business and industry sectors, which have objected to her highly interventionist economic policies and failure to reform Brazil’s Kafkaesque tax code. Her economic record took an another blow last week when data showed that the Brazil slipped into recession during the first half of the year.

According to Troyjo, the Rousseff administration has been characterized by attempts to simply repeat and intensify economic policies that proved successful for Lula – combining a consumption-based growth model with insufficient reform and too much focus on domestic, rather than global, trade.

“They didn’t work partly because Dilma didn’t have a strong personality in the central bank, and Mantega has failed to produce growth, failed to control inflation and failed at forecasting too, making so many mistakes on what growth will be,” he said. “So the element of trust and predictability has simply withered away from the administration.”

Since Marina Silva’s entrance into the presidential race on Aug. 20, following the death of Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash, Rousseff’s chances of winning the election have fallen. In response, bond and equity markets have rallied, expressing their discontent with the incumbent.

“The market really wants to see Dilma and her team go,” Troyjo said.

The latest polls, released Wednesday, showed that environmentalist Silva would win handily in a runoff. According to the Ibope survey, the first round of voting on Oct. 5 would see Rousseff attract 37 percent of the vote, while Silva would get 33 percent, and Aécio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party would get 15 percent.

This result would force a second round on Oct. 26, in which, the poll showed Silva would win with 46 percent to Rousseff’s 39 percent.

A second survey released Wednesday, by Datafolha, also showed Silva beating Rousseff in a second round, by a margin of 48 percent to 41 percent.

Before Silva’s entry into the race, Rousseff was predicted to win, but Silva has proven to be something of a wildcard.

The daughter of poor and illiterate rubber tappers from the Amazon, Silva will benefit from a fatigue many in Brazil feel for the political establishment as represented by Rousseff and Neves, whose parties have, between them, held power for the past 20 years.

Yielding to the demands of last year’s mass street protest movement, which is central to her campaign, Silva has promised to direct 10 percent of the GDP to public health care, extend school hours and launch digital-democracy programs.

Silva has also promised to run for only one term – a canny proposal designed to appeal to Workers' Party voters who are tired of Rousseff, but would like to see the still-wildly Lula return to the Planalto in 2018.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Eylül 2014, 09:54