Dilma Rousseff versus the Brazilian media coalition

Article  by  Erika THOMAS  •  Published 17.01.2011  •  Updated 19.01.2011
The media played an important role during the Brazilian election, even though they did not manage to discredit Dilma Rousseff, who was elected president on 31st October 2010.

Summary

A common ideological vision

 It was assumed that Dilma Roussef of the Workers’ Party (PT) would be the winner as soon as the first round of the Brazilian presidential elections was held, but in the end, she had to face the candidate José Serra from the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) for the second round on 31st October. This electoral outcome was in the end not all that unexpected. To understand it, one simply has to think about an essential aspect of the economic, political and social reality in Brazil with regard to media concentration. This sector is dominated by seven large national groups[+] NoteOr seven large families: the Marinho family (Globo group) is at the helm of one of the largest media conglomerates in Latin America; the Civita family owns the Abril group, the largest publisher of magazines and periodicals in the country, including the magazine Veja, the most widely-read in the country; the Frias family owns the most sold newspaper in Brazil, Folha de São Paulo, as well as an opinion institute, Datafolha. The Mesquitas are the owners of the second most read daily newspaper in the country, O estado de São Paulo; the Saad family is at the head of the country’s number three television channel, TV Bandeirantes; the Abravanel family owns TV SBT, fighting for 2nd place with Rede Record. Edir Macedo owns Rede Record.X [1], which, their editorial differences, their rivalries and their own personal interests aside, are ultimately going after the same objectives and share the same ideological vision, something that became evident from the partial way they dealt with the elections.
 
The groups Abril, Organizaçoes Globo, Frias and Mesquita dominate the daily and weekly press and since 1989, the year after Lula first put himself forward for office, have been systematically criticising and smearing the PT, each with their own particular approach and style, especially playing on insecurity and fear[+] NoteBy way of example, see the university research on the way in which covers of the magazine Veja portray the idea of national economic insecurity: CRUZ, A. C. S, A construção da insegurança econômica nas capas da revista Veja, BOCC. Biblioteca On-line de Ciências da Comunicação, p. 1-15, 2007.X [2]. A barrage of systematic media attacks against the PT candidate marked the weeks before the first and second rounds of the 2010 elections. According to the political science analyst and researcher Bruno Lima Rocha, a tacit agreement, expressed via an unanswerable sequence, brought together the four large media groups during the election campaign: the magazine Veja revealed an “affair” to blemish the candidate; A Folha went even further on the matter; TV Globo exploited it and the daily O Estado de São Paulo finished it off clearly stating its support for the opposition candidate, José Serra. These media tactics turned out to ultimately pay off during the first round, not for José Serra, but for Marina Silva, the candidate of the Green Party (PV) who picked up 19.33% of the votes in the first round. The influence of the media in Brazil is without contest effective, but it does have its limits, and, despite the new politico-editorial strategies put in place by these large groups between 4th and 30th August, nothing was able to stop Dilma Rousseff from becoming the president of Brazil.
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An about-face in the first round: 'Lula's candidate' faces media opposition

Whether it be the weeklies Veja[+] NotePart of the Abril group, 64 % of the weekly news magazines sales market. X [3] or Epoca[+] NotePart of the Globo group, 18 % of the market. X [4] - representing 82 % of the total weekly press circulation in Brazil - or the dailies A Folha de São Paulo[+] NotePart of the Frias group, the best selling daily newspaper in Brazil.X [5], O Globo et Extra[+] NoteBoth of which belong to the Globo group and take up the 3rd and 4th positions in terms of sales figures. X [6] and even O Estado de São Paulo[+] NoteWhich belongs to the Mesquita group, and is the 5th daily newspaper in terms of sales.X [7] - representing 78% of the total circulation of Brazilian dailies - all deplored the threat faced by the election of a representative of the PS. From the official opening of the election campaign, the press laid into the candidate Dilma Rousseff, with ever more alleged revelations and affairs based on the large number of corruption scandals that seriously tarnished the image of the PT under the presidency of Lula[+] NoteIncluding the Mensalão scandal that directly implicated the PT: in this affair, opposition members of parliament were paid and corrupted in return for their support: each month, alliances would be formed favouring the PT which only has 18 % of the seats in parliament. To find out more about the scandals and the Brazilian political and electoral system, see the dossier drawn up by Latin America masters students at the Political Studies Institute (IEP) of Grenoble, under the direction of Frédéric Louault, as part of the “Observation électorale OPALC – Brésil 2010” [OPALC electoral monitoring - Brazil 2010] workshop.X [8].
 
Circulation figures for daily newspapers
 

The five best-selling daily newspapers: A folha de Sao Paolo (Frias group), 295,600 copies; Super Notica (popular tabloid, Editoria Sempre), 289,400 copies; O Globo (Globo group), 257,300 copies; Extra (Globo group), 248,100 copies; O Estado de Sao Paolo (Mesquita), 212,800 copies (source: Midia Dados 2010).



Circulation figures for weekly news magazines


 The weekly Veja (including the editions Vega, Veja Sao Paolo and Veja Rio) of the Abril group owns a circulation of 1,502,300 copies; the weekly Epoca of the Globo group owns 413,300 copies; Istoé (editorial Tres), 344,000 copies. Two other weeklies make up the Misc. ("Divers"): Revista da Semana (41,900 copies) and Carta Capital (31,700 copies) (source: Midia Dados 2010).
 
The health of the candidate was exploited[+] NoteThe candidate had gotten over cancer, but the disease was mentioned in Globo and Globo Online on 25th April 2009.X [9] as was her guerrilla past[+] NoteDuring the dictatorship, Dilma Rousseff was involved in a guerrilla group and was a member of the COLINA (Comando de Libertação Nacional); she was arrested and tortured in 1970, and released in 1972. X [10]. The 5th April 2010 edition of A Folha de São Paulo published, in an insert on a red background, a fake register on Dilma Rousseff (in reality from a photomontage being passed around extreme right-wing websites) as an illustration to an article on the presumed abduction of a minister involving the armed group that Dilma Rousseff belonged to. On 25th April, the newspaper published a half-hearted mea culpa stating that the register, received anonymously by e-mail, had not actually been authenticated[+] NoteMistake or strategic fraud on the part of the newspaper? See the analysis made in the article by Sylvia Moretzsohn “Quando o "erramos" pretende encobrir a fraude”, 28th April 2009, Observatorio da Imprensa.X [11].

Independently of the political analyses presented by these groups, the covers of the magazines, using the same strategy of distorting information, are also of significance: while a smiling Serra looks Brazilians straight in the eye, Dilma, in black and white, takes Brazil back to a bygone era.
 

On 18th September 2010, Lula accused Veja of partiality, lies, and non-declared support for the opposition candidate[+] NoteOn 18th September, during the Campinas meeting. See the article by Fabricio Vasselai “Lula, a imprensa e as eleiçoes”. The article looks at the consequences of such a debate on the partiality of the press when the debate is led by that same press (this is the case with A folha de Sao Paulo), concluding that it was a duty to take a look at governments critically, and when it is led by Lula and Dilma, who were accused of gagging the press. X [12]. Dilma directly questioned A Folha which, in the 20th September edition, accused her of bad management and litigious contracts.
 
 
The opposition candidate José Serra was treated very differently by the press. This same press that attacked Dilma took great care to ignore the revelations about the involvement of the PSDB and Serra in affairs of a breach of banking secrecy and the involvement of Serra’s own daughter in other breaches of banking secrecy of millions of Brazilians in 2001. No affair, no inquiry, no contradiction was of interest to these same media groups that could have questioned José Serra’s time as mayor (2005-2009), then his mandate as governor of São Paulo (2007- 2010); both mandates were characterised by a rejection of dialogue with the representatives of the Landless Workers' Movement[+] NoteDialogue was “suspended” on 25th February 2009 on the pretext that land had been occupied. On 1st July 2010, Serra made his opinions clear, stating that, in his opinion, the MST was an ideological movement that wanted a revolution and which was pretending to be an agricultural reform movement. X [13], by repression of the homeless movement during the illegal occupation of buildings and land[+] NoteThe “Revitalisation of the Centre” operation in São Paulo in March 2005: brutal eviction of the poor and homeless from the city centre. See the various figures of the governance of José Serra in the article by R. F. Amaral “Carniceria Tropical: a agressão de José Serra sobre o povo de São Paulo”.X [14], and even by the repression of peaceful student demonstrations against the visit by Bush to Brazil[+] NoteOn 22nd August 2007, a student demonstration was stopped during the State Education Defence day at the Law School of São Paulo. See article "José Serra and State violence by H. Octavio de Souza", 24th August 2007.X [15]. Nothing, or almost, was said by the media on the possible links implicating Serra in the “ambulance scandal[+] NoteSeveral Brazilian members of parliament and senators were involved in 2006 in a fraud case whereby two false calls to tender were made to purchase ambulances. Between 2001 and 2006, almost 110 million reais (i.e. 47.5 million Euros) were embezzled. A Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) set up in June 2006 recommended in August that the 72 members of parliament involved in the affair be stripped of their functions. In April 2007, the Parliamentary Chamber, pleading “absolution through the ballot box” decided not to annul the mandate of the members of parliament involved in the scandal who had been re-elected. X [16] when he was health minister under the presidency of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. No questions were asked about any of this. On the contrary, José Serra was their candidate and they took on the task of smoothing out the image of Serra and attacking the record of Lula and the Dilma candidacy[+] NoteAlongside this partisan treatment, the centre-left magazine Istoé, holding third place in terms of copies sold, far behind Veja and Epoca, offered a more objective style of journalistic treatment, and started by printing the candidates’ speeches and election manifestoes in its issues of 15th May, 9th June and 23rd June.X [17].
 
In a linguistically paradoxical strategy[+] NoteGlobo, through Globo Filmes, co-financed the hagiographic film on the life of Lula. Lula, o filho d Brasil (Fabio Barreto, 2009) that may be considered to be an electoral campaign film given the content and the date it came out in 2010. It should be noted that this film was a fiasco.X [18], the Globo group supported Serra from the outset of the campaign, without actually stating it openly. In O Globo on 11th May 2010, the announcement of the candidacy of Serra came with an “At last! An opposition candidate!” Before that, the campaign slogan of Serra, “O Brasil pode mais”, was more or less taken up by Globo for the 45th anniversary celebrations for the channel: “Brasil muito mais”. When the opinion polls started to favour Dilma Rousseff, the two large dailies Estado de São Paulo and A Folha de São Paulo ramped up their position. On Sunday 26th September, the first of the two declared its support for José Serra with the front-page headline of “The evil to be avoided”, referring to the dangers of the PT, while the second published an editorial exposing the threat posed to democracy in Brazil under the title “All power has its limits”.
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Television images of no great surprise

From 9th to 11th August, on the Globo news programme, Dilma Rousseff (33 % audience share), Marina Silva (30 % audience share) and José Serra (32 % audience share) were interviewed for 12 minutes apiece. The order in which the candidates were to be questioned was decided by drawing lots, and besides the 12-minute question and answer sessions, each candidate had 30 additional seconds to sum up their proposals. It is interesting to note the change of tone used by the journalists William Bonner and Fátima Bernardes, as they switched from a somewhat terse, even curt tone for Dilma Rousseff to a relatively friendly tone for Marina Silva and were even docile for José Serra.

For the candidate Dilma Rousseff, interviewed on 9th August, the journalist Fatima Bernardes even had to interrupt her colleague (and partner) William Bonner to let the candidate speak, as she was constantly interrupted. Dilma had to explain in particular the risky alliances between the PT and Fernando Collor[+] NoteEx-president of Brazil (1990-1992), forced to resign because of illegal operations and corruption. X [19] and José Sarney[+] NotePresident of the senate, former President of the Republic (1985-1990), member of the PMDB involved in 2006 then in 2009 in fictitious job scandals. X [20] and comment on the iron lady reputation she had been given. Marina Silva, interviewed on 10th August, had to explain why she left the PT, and give her opinion on the “Mensalão” affair involving executives of the PT. José Serra, interviewed on 11th August, was not really given a hard time. His long replies received very few firm interruptions. When, at the end, the journalist asked him to explain himself regarding the risky alliances between the PSDB and the PTB (Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro) involved in the “Mensalão” affair, the same journalist took the precaution of first of all reminding the audience of the unnatural alliances of the PT. In a sorry tone, the journalist William Bonner apologised twice when he interrupted José Serra[+] Note“Candidato, o senhor me obriga a interrompê-lo, me perdoe, me perdoe.”: “Candidate, you have forced me to interrupt you, I’m sorry, I’m sorry”.X [21] at the end of the programme when the candidate went over the agreed 12 minutes. It is easy to see that, first of all, the two main candidates were not treated in the same way and that secondly, each of the three interviews was used as a way of discrediting the PT.
 
Despite this strategy, the approval rating of Dilma increased by ten points during the month of August. It was clear during the televised party political broadcasts at 1 pm and 8:30 pm that the voting intentions had not been missed. They adopted different views, revealing a great deal about the image that the candidates had created for themselves.
 
José Santana, the person in charge of political communications for Dilma Rousseff, opted for a cinematographic aesthetic style, with Lula on the screen introducing the candidate to the crowd. Dilma slipped into the crowds to speak to the voters, speaking to women on behalf of women, reflecting on the course her life has taken. Lula’s appearance was a way of ensuring the continuity on which the candidate was counting to win.
 
Luiz Gonzalez, the person in charge of political communications for José Serra, opted for simpler spots, both aesthetically and in terms of content. The candidate was placed firmly in the Brazil of the favelas, of joy and simplicity, reminding people that he too comes from a modest background. He was clearly targeting the working-class electorate. But was this electorate able to recognise itself in a studio shanty town and a group singing "When Lula goes, it’s José I want to see down there" in samba rhythm?
 
In late August, while the political party was broadcasting for the campaign and the interviews lasting 12 minutes went out, voting intentions for Dilma went from 36 to 49% and from 37% to 29% for José Serra. The candidates addressed the public, but what happened to a debate to explain the differences and the common ground in their manifestos? Four televised debates on the national channels bringing together the four presidential candidates – Dilma Rousseff (PT), José Serra (PSDB), Marina Silva (PV) and Plinio de Arruda Sampaio (PSOL)[+] NotePlinio de Arruda Sampaio, a person from the left in Brazil, received less than 1 % of the votes cast on 3rd October. See the interview that he gave to the New Anti-capitalist Party on 12th August 2010 .X [22] – were broadcast in August and September.
 

30th September 2010, TV Globo: an American-style show (photo: A.G. Globo)

These debates in the end only attracted low audience ratings. The first, competing with the match of the Copa dos Libertadores da America Latina on TV Globo, were marked by the bad performance by Serra[+] NoteSerra’s bad performance both on the television and in general was criticised by his own side. X [23]. The second debate resulted in an increase in the popularity of Dilma and a drop in the approval rating of Serra in a pole by A Folha in partnership with Rede TV. The third debate revealed Marina Silva as less self-effacing and more aggressive in opposing Dilma; she asked her in particular about the influence peddling affairs involving a member of her cabinet[+] NoteAffair concerning Erenice Guerra, the minister of the Casa Civil (equivalent of the Prime Minister) who resigned on 16th September, having been accused of nepotism and influence peddling involving his son, a company owner, who it is alleged, benefited from his position to negotiate loans at preferential rates.X [24]. During the last debate organised by Globo and the only to reach a relatively large market share, the differences between the two main candidates were not touched on: Serra and Dilma essentially adopted a defensive strategy. There was no clash of ideas during the first round of debates, which led to a rather bland television event, and probably explains why the audience share for the debate on TV Globo went from 30 % at the start of the programme to 20% at the end[+] NoteSource: IBOPE 1st August 2010. X [25].
 
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The lessons learned from the first round of the elections

 During the night of 3rd October 2010, the results contradicted the national and international forecasts. Dilma Rousseff attained 46.91% of the votes, or 47 million votes, while Serra obtained 32.61%, or 33 million votes; and Marina scored 19.35%, almost 20 million votes. For the second round a choice would have to be made between the candidates – Dilma and Serra – on 31st October.
 
Taking a broader look at the results, to include elected senators, members of parliament and governors[+] NoteThe Brazilian presidential election includes the election of senators, members of parliament and governors. X [26], shows that the Dilma’s party won 18 States in Brazil and 4 of the country’s five regions while Serra won in 8 States and in the Southern region. Marina Silva only won the Federal District of Brasilia.

Results of the first round by state and region


Source: TSE (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral), 4th october 2010
 
The PT undeniably scored better than in 2006[+] NoteDuring the 1st round in 2006, Lula won in 16 States of Brazil while the opposition candidate, Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), won in 10 States and the Federal District of Brasilia. X [27], but it should not be forgotten that the abstention rate[+] NoteThose aged over 18 are obliged to vote in Brazil, but it optional for those aged between 16 and 18 years of age, for those aged over 70 and for the illiterate.X [28] and blank or invalid votes accounted for almost a quarter of the Brazilian electorate[+] NoteSource: TSE Tribunal Superior Eleitoral.X [29]. This piece of information appears to be the direct link – although other considerations are examined in greater detailer later – with the anti-Dilma campaign led by the media, skilled at distorting information and exploiting rumours day after day to weaken the candidate. The somewhat high score of Marina Silva may also, in our opinion, be considered one of the outcomes of this media opposition. All this, however, does indeed raise a certain number of issues that cannot be put down to media influence alone. The first of them concerns the opinion poll institutes and their inability to forecast whether there would be a second round until the day before the election[+] NoteThe Ibope and Datafolha institutes took a more prudent stance, taking only two margin of error points into consideration.X [30], and to make a correct estimate of the voting intention for Marina Silva. The four main opinion poll institutes, Ibope, Datafolha, Vox Populi and Sensus, all incorrectly forecast the results of the three candidates, and their forecast for Dilma Rousseff is confusing[+].; NoteA week before the elections, Sensus forecast that Dilma would have 54 % of the votes cast. On the day before the elections Vox Populi gave her 53 % of the votes and Datafolha gave her 50 %. On the day of the elections, based on exit polls, Ibope forecast Dilma as the winning candidate after the 1st round with 51 % of the votes.X [31].

The underestimated figures for Marina Silva tally with the relative lack of media attention to socio-environmental issues in Brazil. The personal route taken by Marina Silva, who is from one of the poorest backgrounds in Brazil[+] NoteMarina was one of eleven children in a family of rubber extractors, and she herself worked in the seringais of the State of Acre. She was almost illiterate until the age of 16, and started her political career in 1984.X [32], inspires admiration and reminds people of the background of Lula[+] NoteMarina Silva could have been the PT candidate, but Lula preferred Dilma Rousseff to her and so it was with the Partido Verde that the former Environment minister put herself forward for election. X [33], but it is important not to forget that this candidate opposing Dilma and Serra was Lula’s environment minister between 2003 and 2008, a period fraught with various scandals, while her stance on certain issues caused indignation on the part of a great number of militants and intellectuals[+] NoteThe scandal of vote purchasing from members of parliament (“mensalão”) involving the minister of the Casa Civil, Zé Dirceu; the reform of the welfare system with a reduction in corporate contributions; the development of agro-business; the non-regulation of the Tax on Great Wealth (IGF).X [34]: these issues included policies in favour of the agrobusiness involving commercial legislation on transgenic soya while the law forcing industrial companies to label products containing more than 1% GMO was not applied[+] NoteTo get a fairly complete overview of the agricultural policy in Brazil under Lula, see the excellent article by the representative of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST): João Pedro Stedile, “The Neoliberal Agrarian Model in Brazil” in Monthly Review, February 2007, vol. 58 N° 9, "Brazil under Lula".X [35]. It is also interesting to point out an inconsistency in the candidacy of the “green” candidate: her vice-president was no other than Guilherme Leal, the founder and co-CEO of the multinational Natura and the 13th-richest person in Brazil[+[36]][37][+]. NoteAnd 463rd richest person in the world according to Forbes 2009.X [38]. On Sunday 17th October, Marina Silva announced that she was not advising people how to vote in the second round.
 
Another of the questions raised by the outcome of the first round concerns the popularity of Lula who, in recent polls was estimated as enjoying a popularity rating of almost 79%[+] NoteSource Datafolha, 26th August 2010, a survey carried out on 24th and 25th August 2010 on 10,948 voters in 385 Brazilian municipalities.X [39]. We believe that the result of Dilma Rousseff, added to the abstention rate and invalid or blank votes, puts the estimated popularity rating somewhat in perspective and uncovers a flaw. It cannot be denied that policies in favour of the poorest in society were put in place under the presidency of Lula, in particular through social welfare programmes such as Fome Zero or Bolsa Familia[+] NoteIn May 2010, the World Food Programme (WFP) awarded the Global Champion in the Battle Against Hunger prize. To illustrate one of these programmes, Bolsa Família distributes 13 billion reais (ie around 5.6 billion Euros) to 12 million families, around 46 million people, i.e. a quarter of the population of Brazil, who receive between 22 and 200 reais per month (ie between 9.5 and 86 Euros per month). In return, these families must have their children vaccinated and ensure that they work well at school.X [40] to enable working class families to access the market, but Brazil remains through the political choices made by Lula a deeply inegalitarian country[+] NoteDuring the first mandate of Lula (4 years), the richest entrepreneurs in the country enjoyed an increase in profits of 400 % while over two mandates of Lula (8 years), the minimum wage increased by 57 %. It is now 510 reais, i.e. around 220 Euros. Source: Brasil de Fato, 30th July 2010.X [41] and has level of violence not far from that of a civil war in some favelas[+] Note6th most violent country in the world, behind El Savador, Colombia, Guatemala, the Virgin Islands (United States) and Venezuela, taking into account the murder rate (around 25.8 per 1000). Source: Whosis e Census quoted in Mapa da violencia 2010, Instituto Sangari ('map of violence in Brazil').X [42].
 
This social indicators connected with a move away from the grand projects of the PT of 1989 (agricultural and tax reform etc.) explain why some of the militants, intellectuals and former staunch adepts have become more critical of the ambivalent behaviour of the left, as embodied by Lula. These ideological ambiguities of the left in Brazil explain, in part, the stance taken by the three candidates on the first round and cast light on why Marina Silva gave no advice as to how to vote. According to the sociologist Luis Fernando Novoa Garzon, a lecturer/researcher at the Universidade Federal de Rondonia[+] NoteSee the portal Agencia Latino Americana de Informações, E. Sales de Lima and R. Godoy de Toledo, Eleições: disputa de projetos ou confrontos politicos?, 28th September 2010.X [43], the programmes of the three main characters are converging, because the possibility of new economic policies that go against the interests of the financial system[+] NoteUnder Fernando Henrique Cardoso (president between 1995 and 2003), banks achieved a turnover of around 34.3 billion reais (ie around 15 billion Euros). During the two mandates of Lula, this figure was multiplied by five, to reach around 170 billion (ie around 73.5 billion Euros). Source: Brasil de Fato, 30th July 2010.X [44] has not been discussed. The lack of a truly ideological clash of ideas has meant that no in-depth debate has taken place. The candidates fought more over the management of a system that was built up while Lula was in power than about the political system to be put in place. This increasing amount of common ideological ground explains, we believe, why the debate was focussed on affairs: the PT was accused of illegally accessing the tax files of Serra’s daughter and of other members of the PSDB; influence peddling in the ministry; and the resignation of the minister of the Casa Civil. These affairs took up time that could otherwise have been dedicated to an in-depth debate on the inadequacies of the Lula legacy, which could in turn have raised the profile of challenges to come: what about the Agricultural Reform - in the manifesto of Lula from 1989 - and the Landless Workers[+] NoteOn the agricultural reform issue in Brazil, see GOHN, M. da G. Os Sem-Terra, Ongs e Cidadania: a sociedade civil brasileira na era da globalização, São Paulo: Cortez, 2000 and STÉDILE, João Pedro e FERNANDES, Bernardo Mançano. Brava Gente: a trajetóriado MST e a luta pela terra no Brasil, São Paulo: Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo, 1999. X [45]? What about the issue of the indigenous peoples of Brazil and the political failures in this area that gave rise recently to a report by Amnesty International[+] NoteAmnesty International “Foreigners in our own country”, report 2005.X [46]? What about the management of the Amazonia when 67 million hectares have been privatised[+] NoteBill nº 11.284, of 2nd March 2006, widened the area of legal deforestation in Amazonia by 20 %. On 2nd June 2009, the Senate approved the privatisation of 67.4 million hectares. See Folha de S. Paulo, 4/5/2009. X [47]? What about tax reform[+] NoteIn 2004, a family with two children earning two minimum wages pays 48.8 % in tax, while a family earning thirty times the minimum wage pays 26.3 % tax. Source: Eduardo Torres Albuquerque Maranhão. Análise crítica do Sistema Tributário Nacional, 18th August 2010.X [48]?
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On the horizon...

Between 4th and 30th October, the campaign went by without any surprises. Other affairs came to the fore[+] NoteLike the “Paulo Petro affair”, member of the PSDB accused of embezzling 4 million reais from a slush fund for the campaign of José Serra. Serra started by denying that he knew Paulo Preto before publically admitting the embezzlement and stating to the press that Paulo Preto was innocent.X [49]. The large media companies held their course. The five televised debates showed a more aggressive strategy on the part of the candidates and of Dilma Rousseff in particular. The two first debates that went out on the 10th and 17th October on TV Band and Rede TV achieved paltry audience ratings, coming to around 4%. The debate on Rede Record on 25th October made a 9% audience rating and the debate on Globo, on 29th October achieved 25%. From the day after the first debate Dilma Rousseff cleverly included large excerpts in her new party political broadcast, which were shown several times, thereby ensuring that the debate between the candidates gained more visibility.
 
 
José Serra, was handled roughly during the first debate, and opted in his party political broadcast for overplaying environmental questions and issues that had been covered previously by Marina Silva.
 
 
Religious issues were also raised during the second round. The questions of faith, the right to abortion, and gay marriage were exploited by the media, and were used in an attempt to reverse the increasing popularity of Dilma Rousseff in the opinion polls, but in the end these issues covered over any possible ideological differences between the candidates. Even Pope Benedict XVI felt he ought to state, when faced with the bishops in Brazil, that priests “had an imperious right to express a moral judgement, even in politics”[+] NoteAFP, 28th October 2010.X [50]. To no avail. Dilma Rousseff finally came out victorious faced with the media coalition which used three main devices to destabilise her throughout the campaign: overexploitation of the affairs and scandals of the PT; questioning the candidate’s legitimacy; and support for her opponent, José Serra. On 31st October 2010, Dilma Rousseff became the first woman president in Brazil, elected with 56% of the votes. Besides the political leanings she represents and the political policies she chose, besides the hopes that her being elected embody, her win seized after the 2nd round is also evidence of the great influence that the media has, even if it is no longer all-powerful. Thanks to the Internet in particular, political information was passed around and helped to create a sort of counterbalance, which, although it may not have reached the entire population of Brazil[+], Note34.8 % of the Brazilian population has access to the Internet. Source: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística(IBGE), 2008 data.X [51], did form an alternative debating ground. It is laudable in a democracy for the media to be critical of the government, but it is equally admirable for them to be as demanding and impartial with all political parties. Among the various projects that the president will have to take on to turn Brazil into a fairer country, stricter legislation on media concentration is in our opinion one that is essential.

 
Translated by Peter Moss
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Selective Bibliography

J.F. de CARVALHO (org) O Brasil é viavel ? Paz e Terra, São Paulo, 2006.
 
GENTILI, Pablo (org.) Pedagogia da exclusão: Crítica ao neoliberalismo em educação. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1995.
 
GOHN, M. da G. Os Sem-Terra, Ongs e Cidadania: a sociedade civil brasileira na era da globalização. São Paulo: Cortez, 2000.
 
LIMA, Venício A. de, Mídia: Crise política e poder no Brasil Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo, 2006.
 
STÉDILE, João Pedro e FERNANDES, Bernardo Mançano. Brava Gente: a trajetória do MST e a luta pela terra no Brasil. São Paulo: Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo,
1999.
 
Websites:
 
 
CRUZ, A. C. S, A construção da insegurança econômica nas capas da revista Veja. BOCC. Biblioteca On-line de Ciências da Comunicação, v. 1, p. 1-15, 2007.
 
DE SOUSA JUNIOR J. et DE MENEZES NETO A.J. Entre seis ou meia dúzia: os dilemas da esquerda brasileira, 15th October 2010, Correio da Cidadania.
 
OCTAVIO DE SOUZA, H. José Serra e a violencia de estado,  24th August 2007.
 
SALES DE LIMA E. and GODOY DE TOLEDO R., Eleições : disputa de projetos ou confrontos politicos? , 28th September 2010.
 
VASSELAI F. "Lula, a imprensa e as eleiçoes", Carta Capital, 10th September 2010.
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  • 1. Or seven large families: the Marinho family (Globo group) is at the helm of one of the largest media conglomerates in Latin America; the Civita family owns the Abril group, the largest publisher of magazines and periodicals in the country, including the magazine Veja, the most widely-read in the country; the Frias family owns the most sold newspaper in Brazil, Folha de São Paulo, as well as an opinion institute, Datafolha. The Mesquitas are the owners of the second most read daily newspaper in the country, O estado de São Paulo; the Saad family is at the head of the country’s number three television channel, TV Bandeirantes; the Abravanel family owns TV SBT, fighting for 2nd place with Rede Record. Edir Macedo owns Rede Record.
  • 2. By way of example, see the university research on the way in which covers of the magazine Veja portray the idea of national economic insecurity: CRUZ, A. C. S, A construção da insegurança econômica nas capas da revista Veja, BOCC. Biblioteca On-line de Ciências da Comunicação, p. 1-15, 2007.
  • 3. Part of the Abril group, 64 % of the weekly news magazines sales market.
  • 4. Part of the Globo group, 18 % of the market.
  • 5. Part of the Frias group, the best selling daily newspaper in Brazil.
  • 6. Both of which belong to the Globo group and take up the 3rd and 4th positions in terms of sales figures.
  • 7. Which belongs to the Mesquita group, and is the 5th daily newspaper in terms of sales.
  • 8. Including the Mensalão scandal that directly implicated the PT: in this affair, opposition members of parliament were paid and corrupted in return for their support: each month, alliances would be formed favouring the PT which only has 18 % of the seats in parliament. To find out more about the scandals and the Brazilian political and electoral system, see the dossier drawn up by Latin America masters students at the Political Studies Institute (IEP) of Grenoble, under the direction of Frédéric Louault, as part of the “Observation électorale OPALC – Brésil 2010” [OPALC electoral monitoring - Brazil 2010] workshop.
  • 9. The candidate had gotten over cancer, but the disease was mentioned in Globo and Globo Online on 25th April 2009.
  • 10. During the dictatorship, Dilma Rousseff was involved in a guerrilla group and was a member of the COLINA (Comando de Libertação Nacional); she was arrested and tortured in 1970, and released in 1972.
  • 11. Mistake or strategic fraud on the part of the newspaper? See the analysis made in the article by Sylvia Moretzsohn “Quando o "erramos" pretende encobrir a fraude”, 28th April 2009, Observatorio da Imprensa.
  • 12. On 18th September, during the Campinas meeting. See the article by Fabricio Vasselai “Lula, a imprensa e as eleiçoes”. The article looks at the consequences of such a debate on the partiality of the press when the debate is led by that same press (this is the case with A folha de Sao Paulo), concluding that it was a duty to take a look at governments critically, and when it is led by Lula and Dilma, who were accused of gagging the press.
  • 13. Dialogue was “suspended” on 25th February 2009 on the pretext that land had been occupied. On 1st July 2010, Serra made his opinions clear, stating that, in his opinion, the MST was an ideological movement that wanted a revolution and which was pretending to be an agricultural reform movement.
  • 14. The “Revitalisation of the Centre” operation in São Paulo in March 2005: brutal eviction of the poor and homeless from the city centre. See the various figures of the governance of José Serra in the article by R. F. Amaral “Carniceria Tropical: a agressão de José Serra sobre o povo de São Paulo”.
  • 15. On 22nd August 2007, a student demonstration was stopped during the State Education Defence day at the Law School of São Paulo. See article "José Serra and State violence by H. Octavio de Souza", 24th August 2007.
  • 16. Several Brazilian members of parliament and senators were involved in 2006 in a fraud case whereby two false calls to tender were made to purchase ambulances. Between 2001 and 2006, almost 110 million reais (i.e. 47.5 million Euros) were embezzled. A Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) set up in June 2006 recommended in August that the 72 members of parliament involved in the affair be stripped of their functions. In April 2007, the Parliamentary Chamber, pleading “absolution through the ballot box” decided not to annul the mandate of the members of parliament involved in the scandal who had been re-elected.
  • 17. Alongside this partisan treatment, the centre-left magazine Istoé, holding third place in terms of copies sold, far behind Veja and Epoca, offered a more objective style of journalistic treatment, and started by printing the candidates’ speeches and election manifestoes in its issues of 15th May, 9th June and 23rd June.
  • 18. Globo, through Globo Filmes, co-financed the hagiographic film on the life of Lula. Lula, o filho d Brasil (Fabio Barreto, 2009) that may be considered to be an electoral campaign film given the content and the date it came out in 2010. It should be noted that this film was a fiasco.
  • 19. Ex-president of Brazil (1990-1992), forced to resign because of illegal operations and corruption.
  • 20. President of the senate, former President of the Republic (1985-1990), member of the PMDB involved in 2006 then in 2009 in fictitious job scandals.
  • 21. “Candidato, o senhor me obriga a interrompê-lo, me perdoe, me perdoe.”: “Candidate, you have forced me to interrupt you, I’m sorry, I’m sorry”.
  • 22. Plinio de Arruda Sampaio, a person from the left in Brazil, received less than 1 % of the votes cast on 3rd October. See the interview that he gave to the New Anti-capitalist Party on 12th August 2010 .
  • 23. Serra’s bad performance both on the television and in general was criticised by his own side.
  • 24. Affair concerning Erenice Guerra, the minister of the Casa Civil (equivalent of the Prime Minister) who resigned on 16th September, having been accused of nepotism and influence peddling involving his son, a company owner, who it is alleged, benefited from his position to negotiate loans at preferential rates.
  • 25. Source: IBOPE 1st August 2010.
  • 26. The Brazilian presidential election includes the election of senators, members of parliament and governors.
  • 27. During the 1st round in 2006, Lula won in 16 States of Brazil while the opposition candidate, Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), won in 10 States and the Federal District of Brasilia.
  • 28. Those aged over 18 are obliged to vote in Brazil, but it optional for those aged between 16 and 18 years of age, for those aged over 70 and for the illiterate.
  • 29. Source: TSE Tribunal Superior Eleitoral.
  • 30. The Ibope and Datafolha institutes took a more prudent stance, taking only two margin of error points into consideration.
  • 31. A week before the elections, Sensus forecast that Dilma would have 54 % of the votes cast. On the day before the elections Vox Populi gave her 53 % of the votes and Datafolha gave her 50 %. On the day of the elections, based on exit polls, Ibope forecast Dilma as the winning candidate after the 1st round with 51 % of the votes.
  • 32. Marina was one of eleven children in a family of rubber extractors, and she herself worked in the seringais of the State of Acre. She was almost illiterate until the age of 16, and started her political career in 1984.
  • 33. Marina Silva could have been the PT candidate, but Lula preferred Dilma Rousseff to her and so it was with the Partido Verde that the former Environment minister put herself forward for election.
  • 34. The scandal of vote purchasing from members of parliament (“mensalão”) involving the minister of the Casa Civil, Zé Dirceu; the reform of the welfare system with a reduction in corporate contributions; the development of agro-business; the non-regulation of the Tax on Great Wealth (IGF).
  • 35. To get a fairly complete overview of the agricultural policy in Brazil under Lula, see the excellent article by the representative of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST): João Pedro Stedile, “The Neoliberal Agrarian Model in Brazil” in Monthly Review, February 2007, vol. 58 N° 9, "Brazil under Lula".
  • 36.
  • 37.
  • 38.
  • 39. Source Datafolha, 26th August 2010, a survey carried out on 24th and 25th August 2010 on 10,948 voters in 385 Brazilian municipalities.
  • 40. In May 2010, the World Food Programme (WFP) awarded the Global Champion in the Battle Against Hunger prize. To illustrate one of these programmes, Bolsa Família distributes 13 billion reais (ie around 5.6 billion Euros) to 12 million families, around 46 million people, i.e. a quarter of the population of Brazil, who receive between 22 and 200 reais per month (ie between 9.5 and 86 Euros per month). In return, these families must have their children vaccinated and ensure that they work well at school.
  • 41. During the first mandate of Lula (4 years), the richest entrepreneurs in the country enjoyed an increase in profits of 400 % while over two mandates of Lula (8 years), the minimum wage increased by 57 %. It is now 510 reais, i.e. around 220 Euros. Source: Brasil de Fato, 30th July 2010.
  • 42. 6th most violent country in the world, behind El Savador, Colombia, Guatemala, the Virgin Islands (United States) and Venezuela, taking into account the murder rate (around 25.8 per 1000). Source: Whosis e Census quoted in Mapa da violencia 2010, Instituto Sangari ('map of violence in Brazil').
  • 43. See the portal
  • 44. Under Fernando Henrique Cardoso (president between 1995 and 2003), banks achieved a turnover of around 34.3 billion reais (ie around 15 billion Euros). During the two mandates of Lula, this figure was multiplied by five, to reach around 170 billion (ie around 73.5 billion Euros). Source: Brasil de Fato, 30th July 2010.
  • 45. On the agricultural reform issue in Brazil, see GOHN, M. da G. Os Sem-Terra, Ongs e Cidadania: a sociedade civil brasileira na era da globalização, São Paulo: Cortez, 2000 and STÉDILE, João Pedro e FERNANDES, Bernardo Mançano. Brava Gente: a trajetóriado MST e a luta pela terra no Brasil, São Paulo: Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo, 1999.
  • 46. Amnesty International “Foreigners in our own country”, report 2005.
  • 47. Bill nº 11.284, of 2nd March 2006, widened the area of legal deforestation in Amazonia by 20 %. On 2nd June 2009, the Senate approved the privatisation of 67.4 million hectares. See Folha de S. Paulo, 4/5/2009.
  • 48. In 2004, a family with two children earning two minimum wages pays 48.8 % in tax, while a family earning thirty times the minimum wage pays 26.3 % tax. Source: Eduardo Torres Albuquerque Maranhão. Análise crítica do Sistema Tributário Nacional, 18th August 2010.
  • 49. Like the “Paulo Petro affair”, member of the PSDB accused of embezzling 4 million reais from a slush fund for the campaign of José Serra. Serra started by denying that he knew Paulo Preto before publically admitting the embezzlement and stating to the press that Paulo Preto was innocent.
  • 50. AFP, 28th October 2010.
  • 51. 34.8 % of the Brazilian population has access to the Internet. Source: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística(IBGE), 2008 data.
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