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Lula Starts Brazil’s Campaign with Vulgarity. In Brazil This Is the Norm

Sérgio Guerra, PSDB's chief Startled, no one was. Not even shocked. For long the unique political vocabulary of President Lula exceeds the minimum standards of the vernacular. We will not repeat past nouns and adjectives pronounced by His Excellency during his ad libs, let’s just take a look at his latest one. For him, the president of the PSDB (Party of the Brazilian Social Democracy), Sérgio Guerra, is a “babaca” (asshole).

As the senator from Pernambuco had the day before called, Lula’s pick to succeed him, Dilma Rousseff a “liar” if they are not even it’s almost that, even if the toucan (a PSDB member) has been more parsimonious in his vulgarity.

This is the way things will go during the presidential campaign. It’s possible that José Serra, the PSDB’s presidential candidate, doesn’t want any part of it, but if less educated peers speak on his behalf, it’s all the same.

These things are usually more contagious than measles. We’re still in January and the exacerbation of opinions reflects the insecurity of those who issue them. Because neither Sérgio Guerra is sure about the success of the candidacy of the PSDB’s São Paulo Governor to the presidency, nor President Lula is certain about the victory of his candidate.

Thus, the reaction of the two clashing groups is regrettable but inevitable: they hope to win the election less by the qualities and the program of their nominees and more by the virulence with which they expose the opponent.

It wasn’t always so, but in most cases, it was. Who doesn’t remember that Jânio Quadros, on the stump, used to shake a bamboo with a dead rat hanging on the top, saying that it was Ademar de Barros. Or that Ademar, in turn, shook the body of a skunk, with the same intentions.

In the first direct election after the military regime (1964-1985), presidential candidate Fernando Collor announced that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would confiscate the savings of the middle class, the time when he used to dress some of his supporters as beggars who would go to the entrance hall of luxury apartment buildings in Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, claiming they were choosing where they would move after the ousting of all owners, when Lula took office.

The first comrade, Lula, in turn, accused his opponent of being a fraud and a puppet of mill owners and industrialists. Fernando Henrique, let’s be fair, was more moderate in his two campaigns, but Lula hit hard below the belt.

By the way, we are going to watch a video tape of the worst moments of previous successive electoral contests, so far ignored the program of Dilma Rousseff and José Serra’s plans of government …

Reopened Crisis

The government crisis with the PMDB was reopened by president Lula by insisting to get from the party a list of three potential candidates for Dilma Rousseff’s running mate, rather than the single indication of representative Michel Temer. The presidential demand was conveyed to the press by two ministers, less than a day after the PMDB leaders decided to push back the convention that will reelect Michel Temer as party’s president as a way to reinforce his name and show they are in charge.

It seems like a tug of war between two little kids, Juquinha and Zezinho.

For president Lula, this “allies’ imposition” is unacceptable because, after all, he says, Dilma Rousseff will be the one to choose the running mate. This is obviously fiction, since everybody knows that she is merely following orders. The first comrade would like a peemedebista (PMDB candidate) with electoral density, capable of adding votes, a predicate Temer lacks.

A “more competitive” name would be ideal for the government, but the danger, if the insistence on the triple list continues, is that the PMDB splits and decides to favor, at the February 6 convention, the party’s own candidate, in this case Roberto Requião. At least fifteen state directorates would be willing to reaffirm the nomination of the governor of Paraná to the next and decisive June convention.

Only Federal Intervention Will Do

Governor José Roberto Arruda allies’ maneuver in the Brasília’s Legislative Assembly demoralized whatever was left of democratic institutions. Assemblymen allied to the government killed the inquiry that would investigate the robbery committed by themselves after a judge ordered the removal of those involved in the task of investigating the complaints. Not even the prime mover of the mess, former secretary and filmmaker Durval Barbosa, will be heard anymore in what would be the first step towards the elucidation of the scandal.

Federal intervention is the only way to restore ethics in the federal capital, but President Lula refuses to admit the possibility, even if constitutionally possible and justifiable.

Meanwhile Governor Arruda remains in office, without even the requests for his impeachment being brought before the Board Council. Though no one wants to return to the past, some people refer to the general indignation with just one question: “Can you imagine what General Ernesto Geisel would have done in the face of all this?”

Are They Staying Till the Last Day?

After the first ministerial meeting of the year Brasília is asking one question. Will all the ministers who are running for the October elections follow President Lula’s order to remain at their posts until the final deadline for “disincompatibilization” (meaning running for office and being a minister are incompatible before the law), April 4?

Many would need to dive well before into the campaign’s preliminaries for governor. They are wasting time while the various state forces increase the demands and wait for definitions.

Even if no minister dares to disobey the speech from the throne, the result may be unfortunate for the federal administration. Because while remaining ministers, they will neglect their formal tasks. They are going to be in their states.

The ministers of Communications, Hélio Costa, and Transportation, Alfredo Nascimento, didn’t even attended the cabinet meeting. They are much more worried with the campaigns in Minas Gerais and Amazonas. It’s possible that someone a little more rebellious will formally resign, but almost all candidates will practically be on leave of absence.

Carlos Chagas is a veteran Brazilian journalist who writes for Rio’s Tribuna da Imprensa.

Translated from the Portuguese by Arlindo Silva.

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