Brazil's 2014 election campaign gets off to early start

Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:53pm EST
 

By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's 2014 election season got off to an unusually early start this week with the unofficial launch of President Dilma Rousseff's re-election campaign by her mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Celebrating his Workers' Party's 10th year in power, Lula laid to rest speculation that he would run again by anointing Rousseff as the party's best option to stay in power.

The main opposition party PSDB went on the offensive and attacked the decade of Workers' Party (PT) rule for undoing its work in laying the basis for Brazil's financial stability under former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

"They can get ready, they can organize, but our reply will be the re-election of Dilma in 2014," Lula said on Wednesday in a packed Sao Paulo hotel ballroom.

The day before, Rousseff announced that she has almost met her promise to eradicated extreme poverty by expanding social programs started by Lula. She spoke under a banner that looked decidedly like a campaign slogan: "Ending poverty is only the beginning.

Despite her failure to match the rapid economic growth enjoyed by Lula, Rousseff's popularity is in the high 70s and she is facing weak opposition. Barring a major scandal in her government or an economic downturn that brings high inflation and unemployment, she is seen as the odds-on favorite to win the 2014 vote.

Rousseff has vowed to continue the PT's social plans aimed at improving the quality of life of Brazil's poor, though her government has turned to private business to help rebuild the country's dilapidated infrastructure. Some of her policy moves, such as in the energy sector, have shaken investor confidence.

A PSDB victory in 2014 would restore more liberal policies that laid the ground for economic stability in the 1990s.   Continued...

 
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff speaks during the signing ceremony of the National Commitment to Improvement of Working Conditions in the Construction Industry at the planalto palace in Brasilia March 1, 2012. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino