Brazil’s opposition presidential candidate José Serra strongly questioned the “radical” positions of also presidential hopeful Dilma Rousseff, from the ruling Workers Party, who after publishing and signing her government program in the Internet was forced, just a few hours later, to make important rectifications.
They referred to facilitating the Landless movement to occupy farms; the social control of the private media; the softening of the veto on abortion and taxing the country’s big fortunes.
The unexpected incident sent shockwaves to the Brazilian electorate and surprised Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who is overseas in Africa.
Ms Rousseff said the original presentation had been an error and blamed the radical wing of the ruling party for the political gaffe.
“There are things which the party can defend, but they are not shared by this candidate,” said Ms Rousseff trying to explain the exposure of highly sensitive issues for the different Brazilian social groups.
Apparently these most radical positions had not been consulted with the other parties which make up the ruling coalition of Lula, whose administration has proved to be most orthodox in economic affairs and status quo in other issues.
During the eight years of President Lula the Workers party hardcore has insistently tried to modify the government’s economic policies and also proposed the “social control” of the private media.
However Lula, as founder of the party added to his personal prestige, impeded in each occasion the initiatives from prospering, and on the contrary implementing a moderate line.
Serra taking advantage of the controversy has declared that the “soul” of Dilma Rousseff’s government program is linked to the most radical wing of the Workers Party that is “hiding” its true ideology with the object of gaining voters’ confidence.
“We know how they think,” said Serra in a column of the prestigious daily O Estado de S. Paulo, adding that the Workers party “with the purpose of cheating on the electorate has not one face, but several faces.”
The big question now is, even for Lula closest followers, if Dilma Rousseff has the current president’s strength to mitigate and contain the radical postures inside the party.
The Workers party president José Dutra has already advanced that Ms Rousseff, if elected, will not enjoy the same liberty as Lula, which definitively helped him build his prestige.
Ms Rousseff only recently joined the Workers Party and never held posts in the party, has never ran for office, “and was never chosen by the party as presidential candidate,” recalled Dutra.
“It was a personal decision from president Lula, whom we much respect, and the party had to end accepting,” recalled Dutra.
According to the latest public opinion polls, Ms Rousseff and Serra have the same vote intention in the range of 39% to 40%, in what is considered the tightest and most combative presidential election since Brazil begun its transition to democracy in 1985.
The election is scheduled for October 3.