2 de outubro de 2014

Upcoming Brazilian Elections: A Portrait of Unawareness

When I was a kid, I lived in a very small town, Nova Floresta, in the Northeast of Brazil. The country had just restored its democratic power after years of a strict dictatorship, but the general population still had no idea of the impact of their participation in a political scenario that surpassed the limits of their own interests. Thus that city, as a sample of what was going on in the rest of the country, had a misconceived concept of politics. There were two major parties, the Conservative Party (Serrapaus) and the Liberal Democrats Party (Bacuraus). Vote in Brazil is obligatory, if you voted for the majority party, your economic life would be kind of safe for the next four years. Most people worked in public positions, and because it was a pretty small city you could lose your job if the other party won the election.

Many people were divergent, marginalized, unemployed or underemployed. Those people used vote as a bargaining chip. And candidates knew how to take advantage of that. In fact, that was a pretty convenient scenario for them.

Politicians were aware that being elected, their actions wouldn't be followed up by the population, cause most of the voters knew nearly nothing about the responsibilities of each position that would be occupied by the elected ones. Moreover, most of the elected politicians knew nearly nothing about legislation or bureaucracy when they started their mandates. Many of them weren't even alphabetized.

The Labor Party, a far-left party, appeared in this scenario as a promise of change. Their ideals were noble, but at first, the society rebuked them. To be accepted they counted on the support of influential corporations and experienced marketing teams. It took no longer than a decade for them to be in the power and so be corrupted by the same mechanisms that made the old gear to run.

Endemic corruption in Brazil is not new. In the 19th century, Emperor Dom Pedro II had a well-documented relationship of corruption with Congress. Clientelism is seen as a major factor contributing to a culture of corruption in Brazil. Empress Leopoldina, his wife, was known as a giver. But those gifts bought the silence of people before her husband's corrupt actions.

"God will provide", "It's the government's fault", "That's God's will", "Things will be fine", a generation that was raised listening to those sayings and being instructed to repeat them will strive to take on their own responsibility to promote the change they aim for so keenly. "I will provide", "It's my fault", "I can't accept that situation", "I'll change it." The lack of political conscience and participation of citizens create conditions for corruption to thrive.

Nevertheless, things have changed a little. The country has outcome poverty. More people have joined the so-called "middle-class", But still, most people haven't learned from their own or their parent's mistakes in the field of politics. Thinking of my aunt, for instance, she voted because she thought the candidate was young, well-groomed and handsome, she never bothered to know what he was standing for. My grandma always voted for the candidate her brother chose for her to vote. Her brother was once a mayor, so he should know! Its too much work to study and evaluate, its too much work to make a choice when the polls have already pointed a "winner". An who wants to lose? "Let's vote for the winner and let the polls decide for us who should be elected." This unfortunately hasn't changed.

Brazil has now three candidates chosen by the polls: Dilma, Marina and Aecio. Two other candidates have a much better government program but are mentioned by the same polls as to having no more than 1% of the vote intentions each, Eduardo Jorge and Luciana Genro.

Aecio represents the Conservative Party, Dilma represents the Labor Party and Marina represents the Environmentalist Party and their campaign is sponsored by major corporations that will surely keep up with Clientelism. Any of the three candidates [in different degrees of agreement] will defend the interests of those corporations over people's. Taxes will be raised and the general situation won't suffer much change.

The least harmful choice, in the eyes of some voters, would be Marina, because of her environmentalist approach. But, her first public mistake was to comply with the demands of an influential religious minister that made her suppress from her government program the support to gay rights. I'm not saying that this is a mistake because I am gay, but because the decisions of a president cannot be controlled by church policies or beliefs.

When Levy Fidelix, another candidate, said that gay people were a minority to be fought and put away to be treated, I hoped it was clear at the eyes of the population why a president could not be controlled by church policies or beliefs. But I know that he won much more votes than he lost that day. Unfortunately, his thoughts are the thoughts of a generation full of prejudice and false values.

Eduardo Jorge and Luciana Genro, otherwise, have a very different approach. They value life, and people. They defend policies of less taxation and more quality of life. They defend rights and freedom from a rotten system. Luciana proposes a new government system and rebukes labels, because she knows that every country should find its own way to fight corruption. Not only are policies sometimes ineffective, but also what works in some places may not work in others. And she is decided to develop that system herself.

So why are Eduardo Jorge and Luciana Genro in the bottom of the polls, if they have much better government programs than the rest of the candidates? Because, the polls have already pointed a "winner". An who wants to be in the losers' team?

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