Brazilian Economy is Winning for Marta in Sí£o Paulo

We’ve not heard much from Erundina (PSB) in the media recently. Probably because she’s seen her poll figures in the campaign for mayor of São Paulo slump from 7% during August to around 3%. As the last of the ‘big four’, she’s rapidly becoming irrelevant to the first round of voting.

by Guy Burton

But her support base will be of interest to the two front
runners who make the second round (on current projections the PT’s Marta Suplicy
and José Serra of the PSDB).

Unfortunately for Serra, Erundina is
changing her campaign strategy
. Instead of fighting on two fronts, she’s
stopping her attacks on Marta and focusing on Serra. The reasoning behind the
change ”“ visible on TV and radio since Monday ”“ is explained by the political
commentator, James Lewis:


“There’s an umbilical relationship between Serra and Erundina:
if one goes up, the other comes down.”

I do wonder to what extent the
decision to shift attention away from Marta is being driven from within the
electoral coalition.


Along with her street visits, it was noted in the
Folha that Marta had been seeing meeting two members of the PMDB ”“ a
city councilor and a congressman ”“ who are members of Erundina’s
alliance.

Could there be discussions going on about which way to jump
after the first round?

And while Erundina has been putting Serra in her
sights, someone seems to have failed to get the message to the PSDB.


They appear to be busy trying to win her over for the second
round along with Paulo Maluf’s (PP) voters. As one of the campaign organizers,
Walter Feldman, says:


“We’re looking for Erundina’s support and we want the support
of Maluf’s voters. The party won’t ask for any formal support from Maluf. But
the polls show that the majority of malufistas would vote for Serra in the
second round.”

Fight! Fight!


On Thursday there was a squabble between the Marta and Serra
camps. Not really much to comment on, since both were throwing their toys out of
their prams, with the usual denunciations and threats of the country going to
pot if the other side wins.


But I’ll limit myself to reporting that Marta called
Serra a “male chauvinist”
, which is relevant given Marta’s high profile and
visible role as a leading feminist. You would think that someone like her
wouldn’t use terms like that lightly.

Serra’s
responded with a quip
: “Rubbish doesn’t have either sex; it can be said by a
man or a woman.”

On the gravy train


Aha, finally an attack between the PT and PSDB which actually
appears to have some substance (limited though as it is) behind it. This
Folha piece records Eduardo Suplicy (Sao Paulo senator and Marta’s
former husband) as saying that the PSDB state
government has been aiding and supporting cities run by their party colleagues
over others
.


This follows a Folha article which suggested that the
part of the state budget spent on cities in 2002 and 2003 shows that tucano
cities received 293.6 million reais (36%) of the 796.3 million
reais in voluntary transfers for public works and infrastructure
development; PT cities received 104.1 million reais (or 13%).

The
figures alone seem stark. But it would perhaps be of more value if we knew how
much had been spent per capita in PT and PSDB cities.
Anyone?

Negative? What do you mean?!


A consultant to the Estado Group which owns the Estado de
S. Paulo
newspaper, Fátima Pacheco Jordão, gave an interview which suggests
that Marta’s
vote-PSDB-and-watch-them-eat-your-babies strategy may backfire
.


According to Fátima Jordão, the problem is that Marta is trying
to bring the added dimension of the PT-PSDB conflict at the state and national
levels while most people see the São Paulo poll as little more than a local
contest: “Marta is playing chess while the voter is playing
checkers.”

The consultant believes that the PT seems almost solely
concerned with the São Paulo election, but that even though Marta’s strategy may
have a negative effect, the PT won’t be beaten in October.


The reason for this, she says, is because of the economic
recovery in the country:If they start to have a positive and real
effect on people’s lives (like the ability to buy things)… they will help a
lot.”

But Fatima Jordao thinks that while the economy can help the PT,
the PSDB have a great ally in the state governor, Geraldo Alckmin: “…the tucano
campaign has been selling the idea of a government in partnership, of projects
done in partnership. And he only entered [the campaign] at the moment when Marta
started to use his name when talking about partnership.”

Can’t
pay, won’t pay


Maluf used Thursday to claim that Sao Paulo
city’s debt is “unpayable”
and that he would renegotiate it with the
authorities if elected. The candidate used his own unmatchable way with words to
criticise not Marta, but the former federal government, of which Serra was a
member:


“The fault doesn’t lie with Marta. It’s the result of a
perverse economic policy which benefited the banks. The tucanos introduced a
policy of pornographic rates since 1995 which broke City Hall and is breaking
Brazil.”

Pornographic? That’s an interesting choice of word there which
conjures up visions of half-naked fiscal policies, bound and gagged exchange
rates and a monetary supply dressed up in a gimp suit…



For much more about the coming São Paulo election visit
Guy Burton and Andrew Steven’s blog at http://www.saopaulo2004.blogspot.com

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