In Brazil, elections are rigidly controlled at least in paper by a Federal Election Board, which is actually a court, presided over by a Supreme Court justice: Superior Electoral Court (TSE).
The legislation is extensive and detailed. Presidential candidates can only be chosen officially during the month of June and the presidential campaign cannot officially begin until the beginning of July.
But, political issues have a habit of popping up and if there was any doubts that one of the main issues in the 2010 presidential campaign would be comparing the Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva terms of office, well, they disappeared over the last few days .
Last weekend former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso wrote an article in O Estado de S. Paulo, also published in Brazzil, “Without Fear of the Past,” in which he wrote about the tendency of president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to compare the two administrations. “You don’t win elections looking in the rearview mirror,” said Cardoso.
But members of the PT jumped at the opportunity. According to the minister of Institutional Relations, Alexandre Padilha, comparisons of the two governments will certainly benefit the PT candidate.
“Every time FHC talks, the Lula administration popularity ratings climb and Dilma Rousseff gets more intentions to vote in the polls,” he said.
“We are convinced that the path president Lula is moving us along is the right path. And we want to talk about this… we will compare what we have done and if they tell us what they want to do we will compare it to what we do from here on…” said the minister.
Meanwhile, Dilma Rousseff, the president’s Chief of Staff and Lula’s handpicked candidate to succeed him, as she continued to deny she is even a pre-candidate at this time, found time to say the following regarding the controversy over comparing or not comparing the two administrations:
“I think comparisons are a good thing when you are trying to decide the best way to do something. I will go this way or that way, you wonder. And in order to pick one way or the other, you make your choice comparing. The fact is that the administration of Lula, in any comparison, with any other government, is a success,” she said.
“For example, up to 2003 (end of FHC’s second term), a total of 140 technical schools were built in Brazil, schools to train people to be professionals with skills. The Lula government has already built 140 of these schools and will build another 74.
“Now that is the kind of comparison I think we should make. We are building a new path for Brazil. I am not diminishing anybody. But the other path is not a good one. Ours is better, that is what I am saying. Let’s talk about who did what. And who will do what. We are not afraid of comparisons.”