Brazil's World Cup debacle hurts but not an election game changer

Wed Jul 9, 2014 12:33pm EDT
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By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's World Cup trouncing by Germany threw a bucket of cold water on a nation that was starting to feel good about hosting the tournament but the humiliating defeat is unlikely to be a game changer in October's presidential election.

Before the crushing 7-1 defeat on Tuesday, President Dilma Rousseff's approval ratings had crept higher as Brazilians got caught up in the excitement of seeing their team advance to the semi-finals in a World Cup that has been widely praised for its riveting action on the field and generally good logistics.

That excitement turned to despair on Tuesday and robs Rousseff of a feel-good factor heading into what looks likely to be a hotly contested election, where she is seeking a second term.

It also forces the country to turn its attention again to the reality of high inflation, an economy now in its fourth year of lackluster growth and widespread discontent about poor public services and heavy World Cup spending that fueled street protests over the past year.

Some market analysts believe Brazil's defeat was so devastating on the national psyche that it can only work against Rousseff on the campaign trail.

"We believe that our stated view – that the opposition is likely to win - has been reinforced by what can legitimately be regarded, from a Brazilian point of view, as a tragic sporting defeat," Nomura economist Tony Volpon said in a note to clients.

Yet most political analysts say the impact of sporting victories or defeats is short-lived in election campaigns, even a historic shellacking like Tuesday's loss to Germany.

They say there are more important factors at play in this Brazil election, above all rising prices in a slowing economy.   Continued...

Brazil's Oscar (L) is comforted by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari after they lost their 2014 World Cup semi-finals against Germany at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte July 8, 2014.   REUTERS/David Gray