Monday, October 30, 2006

South America stays red

Brazil held the second round of its presidential election overnight, and re-elected sitting President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by an overwhelming margin. According to preliminary results from the Justiça Eleitoral, with the count 98.4% done, Lula is leading 60.79% to 39.21%. South America stays red.

I am curious as to why so many South American countries use a runoff vote. Sure, it works - but wouldn't it be easier to use a preferential voting system instead?

Meanwhile, next weekend it will be Nicaragua's turn - and Sandinista President Daniel Ortega looks to be set for a first-round victory. Oliver North - remember him? - is not pleased. He blows his career trading arms for hostages with Iran in an effort to overthrow a foreign left-wing government in violation of US law, and they elect the guy. Clearly Nicaraguans have no sense of gratitude...


It shouldn't - given that Lula's been pretty disapointing - but this makes me happy :)

Myabe in his second term?

Posted by Anonymous : 10/30/2006 03:31:00 PM

Looks like it's not just Labour ... the leftists in South America might be stealing elections too:

Silva also overcame corruption scandals that tarnished the image of his administration.

His Workers party has been battered for two years by charges of vote-buying and illegal campaign financing, scandals that have cost the former labour leader and lathe operator his reputation as an ethical politician.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 10/30/2006 06:23:00 PM

The trouble is that in Brazil all of the parties are corrupt; Lula's Worker's Party was seen as the least corrupt option--although the hypocrisy of the PT (as it is called by its Portuguese initials) in campaigning on an anti-corruption platform four years ago, then turning around and doing more of the same in order to pass legislation in Congress and appease the tradional elites is not lost on the electorate (or Terence). Lula and the PT are certainly the lesser of many evils in this case.

As for Ortega, the problem is that he may be a Sandinista, but his dodgy behavior as the leader of the opposition over the last decade and a half, including the infamous power-sharing arrangement with Enrique Bolanos and his epicly corrupt administration, to say nothing of his personal foibles (being accused of rape by his niece, then becoming a born-again Christian during the trial--in which he was acquitted but which had a serious stench about it, at least with regards to what happened in and out of the jury room), led to the splintering of the Sandinista Party into so-called "orthodox" (Ortega) and "democratic" or "progressive" wings.

Under the Nicaraguan electoral system Ortega needs at least 35 percent of the popular vote and has to be at least five points clear of his nearest rival to win the presidency outright. Until Ollie North showed up, it looked liked the two Liberal (conservative) party candidates (the Liberal Party has also split, one remaining more faithful to its Somocista class origins than the other) looked set to garner enough votes to deny Ortega his 35 percent and thereby force a run-off in which they could join forces and thereby win the presidency. That could still happen, although not if the US keeps on pushing hard its antipathy towards Ortega and the FSLN/PS . Having the Yanks oppose a person, movement or party is the surest way to get elected in Latin America these days.

Remember also that Nicaragua is also voting for Congress and in local elections, so the results could be quite mixed. I guess it is time to see who made and is running those voting machines...maybe the same people who ran the Brazilian election? Deus meu--que nossa senhora tem piedade de nos!

Posted by Anonymous : 10/30/2006 09:15:00 PM

Apropos my last comment. Bolanos is corrupt but it was his predecessor, Alberto Alemann, who Ortega cut the power-sharing deal with (while the former was under house arrest!). Once the deal was done all charges against Alemann were dropped.

Puts our election spending and Taito Field scandals in (some form of) comparative perspective I guess...

Posted by Anonymous : 10/30/2006 09:27:00 PM


Thanks for that - a really interesting comment.

Duncan, part of the trouble in Brazil is, thanks to an electoral system modelled on the US being used in a country with many political parties, it is very difficult for any one political party to get anything done without corruption. In the senate, for example, there are quite a few senators whose sole loyalty is to he who bribes them most. These are the sort of people who you must win over to easily pass legislation. None of this really excuses the PT of its murky behaviour, but it does explain - in part - why every president since the end of the Junta has been tainted by corruption. I had hoped that the PT, with their endless inovativity (hmmm is that a word) might have found a better way. It appears they haven't.

Posted by Anonymous : 10/31/2006 01:50:00 PM