News / Americas

Five-point Plan Boosts Brazil Leader; Social Media Push to Come

FILE - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Sept. 2, 2013. FILE - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Sept. 2, 2013.
x
FILE - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Sept. 2, 2013.
FILE - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Sept. 2, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
When a Brazilian newspaper reported last month that President Dilma Rousseff had gone for a nighttime spin incognito around the capital on the back of an aide's Harley-Davidson, her favorable mentions soared on social media.
 
It was just what Rousseff needed after a bad couple of months: She had been booed at an international soccer match and at a gathering of mayors from around the country. Worse still, her popularity tanked following massive street protests against corruption, poor public services and the high cost of living.
 
The unexpected outburst of anger was aimed at politicians of all stripes and targeted Congress. But it also shook Rousseff's administration to the core and clouded the prospects for next year's election, when she is widely expected to run for a second four-year term.
 
A technocrat with a distaste for the gladhanding of politics, Rousseff quickly gathered her closest advisers, led by her 2010 campaign adviser and pollster JoIao Santana, and drew up a plan to connect more with the public through travel and the Internet, an aide said.
 
The president responded to the demonstrators' main demands with a five-point plan to improve public transportation, health and education services, maintain fiscal discipline and reform Brazil's political system to make it more accountable.
 
The president has increased the frequency of her trips around Brazil to two or three a week to inaugurate new schools, low-cost housing and infrastructure projects aimed at upgrading and expanding the overcrowded urban transit systems that sparked the first protests in June.
 
“A government cannot be deaf,” Rousseff, 65, told a crowd on Wednesday in a working-class suburb of Rio de Janeiro where she announced plans to build a new metro line.
 
Talk radio
 
Donning a hardhat and orange overalls, she visited a shipyard that is building a production and storage platform to tap Brazil's huge offshore oil reserves, praising a law she proposed - and Congress quickly passed after the protests - to use royalties to fund education and health programs.
 
At each stop, Rousseff starts by speaking to local radio stations, a trick borrowed from her charismatic predecessor and political mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who remains hugely popular almost three years after leaving office.
 
Santana “has told her that she has to get out there and beat the bush and expose herself to the people and explain all the good things that she has been doing,” said David Fleischer, a professor of politics at the University of Brasilia.
 
The results are beginning to show. Rousseff's approval rating sank from 73.7 percent before the protests to 49.3 percent in July. By last week it had climbed back to 58 percent.
 
The bump in the polls can partly be explained by the president's efforts to improve public services in states with a large middle class, such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais - the same states that saw the biggest protests in June.
 
In a nod to the power of the Internet - the protests were mostly organized on social media - Rousseff is also taking her campaign to cyberspace.
 
Presidential aides said the government plans to revamp its official www.brasil.gov.br website to make it more attractive and user-friendly, providing everything from tax information to a winning lottery number, not just touting government deeds.
 
Rousseff's Facebook page will be redesigned, and the president will take to Twitter again, having stopped after winning the 2010 election, they said.
 
Leader of the pack
 
If her poll numbers keep creeping higher, political analysts say Rousseff will kick off the election year with a comfortable level of support and as odds-on favorite among a relatively weak field of potential rivals.
 
In a recent poll, the number of respondents who said they would vote for Rousseff rose by 3 percentage points from July to 36.4 percent, while support for Aecio Neves, the likely candidate of the main opposition party, PSDB, held steady at 15.2 percent.
 
Environmentalist Marina Silva, who placed third in 2010, was the only politician to gain ground from June's protests because she was not identified with the political establishment. However, she is running out of time to register her new party, called the Sustainability Network, by Oct. 5 to be able to run for president again next year.
 
Cristiano Noronha, a political analyst with consulting firm Arko Advice in Brasilia, said Rousseff's opponents have failed to capitalize on the political crisis created by the street protests. Still, her reelection will hinge on what matters most, he said: economic performance.
 
Voters will want to see inflation and unemployment kept under control. The infrastructure concessions and oil contracts to be auctioned in coming weeks will also be crucial for the government to revive investment and confidence in Brazil's sluggish economy.
 
A U.S. Federal Reserve decision on Wednesday to taper off monetary stimulus, which hurts emerging economies like India and Brazil, would not help the recovery Rousseff needs, Noronha said.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Jailed American Aims to Leave Cuba 'Dead or Alive'

In Havana after visiting Alan Gross, attorney Scott Gilbert say his client has lost some vision in his right eye, walks with a limp due to hip problems, has lost a tooth and is 50 kilograms lighter than at the time of his arrest
More

Oldest Living Pro Ballplayer Dead at 102

Conrado Marrero's grandson confirmed the death, which came just two days before the centenarian's 103rd birthday
More

Summit to Protect Oceans Opens

Oceans called fundamental to life
More

Actress Lupita Nyong'o is People's 'Most Beautiful' Woman

Oscar winner, 31, lauded for role in '12 Years A Slave' says she 'never dreamed' she would be praised for her looks and land on cover of weekly magazine
More

Violent Protests Erupt Near Rio's Tourist Attractions

The rioting was sparked after word spread that the body of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, a dancer on Brazil's Globo television network, had been discovered
More

Russia Expels Canadian Diplomat

Reports say first secretary's expulsion in Moscow is in retaliation for deportation of Russian military attache from Russian Embassy in Ottawa
More