As Brazilians vote Sunday in a presidential runoff election, the Atlantic Council‚Äôs Peter Schecter and Jason Marczak discuss the significance and ramifications of this vote. Schechter is the director, and Marczak the deputy director, of the Council‚Äôs Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.
Why is this election so important ‚Äď not only for Brazilians, but for the United States and transatlantic relations?
Brazil is increasingly a power broker in in world affairs, especially in the ‚ÄúGlobal South.‚ÄĚ It has the world‚Äôs seventh-largest economy and is an increasingly middle-class country with enormous consumption potential. The population is equal to the combined total of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Clearly, the choice of its next president brings important economic and geostrategic implications for the Americas and Europe.
Over the last four years, President Dilma Rousseff has governed with an inward-looking approach, shying away from striking new commercial relations or taking an assertive role in even regional crises, such as the protests in Venezuela. Such an approach has blunted the economic boom of just a few years ago. Her challenger, A√©cio Neves, has campaigned with a pledge to bring a more outward-looking approach to Brazil. He talks about the need to reinvigorate the Brazilian economy through new trade and investment deals. This would open up new opportunities both for Brazil and for the United States, Europe, and other potential partners.
Brazil has undergone dramatic transformations in the last decade but it now must implement a long delayed but critical macroeconomic rebalance. Its enormous energy potential is also ripe for foreign investment but the terms offered thus far have gained few international suitors. This must change for the economy to get the shot in the arm that it needs. As shown by the World Cup protests last year, neither Dilma nor A√©cio can count on a long honeymoon period. The Brazilian citizenry expects continued social investments but with renewed economic growth and transparency.
What is the main question that Brazilians must decide on Sunday?
Peter Schecter: Who will win Brazil‚Äôs election on Sunday will depend on the question that Brazilians answer in the polling booth. Over the past few weeks, both campaigns have tried desperately to reframe the question for voters.
Dilma will win if Brazilians think the key question is: ‚ÄėAre Aecio‚Äôs radical, free trade economic views too dangerous for the country‚Äôs poor and will he endanger the gains that Lula [former president Lula Inacio Lula da Silva] and Dilma have brought Brazilians in the past 15 years?‚Äô
Aecio will win if Brazilians think the key question is: Do you agree that the PT [Partido dos Trabalhadores, the ruling Workers‚Äô Party] model is tapped out by corruption and ideology? That it was useful for the social changes Brazil needed, but now has nothing to suggest for the future of an emerging superpower that must compete in a globalized world?
Three Questions with Magnus Nordenman: NATO, Russia, Sweden, and Security in the Baltic
As Sweden called off its week-long search today for a suspected foreign submarine in its territorial waters, the Atlantic Council‚Äôs Magnus Nordenman discussed the implications of the incident, in which public discussion suggested a Russian military intrusion. The incident comes amid recent confrontations in the Baltic Sea between Russian ships or aircraft and those of NATO member states and of Sweden (which is not a NATO member). On October 21, fighter jets from Denmark and Sweden intercepted what NATO said was a Russian surveillance plane near their territories over the Baltic‚ÄĒand then Portuguese F16s involved in the protection of Estonia escorted the Russian plane out of Estonian airspace. Russia has denied that it has had any submarine operating in Swedish waters.
Billionaire investment magnate and pro-democracy philanthropist George Soros has sounded what he says is a wake-up call to Europe (and to the United States) over a failure to see that it is ‚Äúfacing a challenge from Russia to its very existence.‚ÄĚ You can read here his full 3,200-word essay for the New York Review of Books, or take in his main points, below:
‚ÄėYou Didn‚Äôt See Us Here,‚Äô Officer Admonishes, as Moscow Keeps Military Options in Ukraine
As Ukrainians elect a parliament this weekend, new evidence pops up of Russia‚Äôs military role in their country: Western journalists this week found destroyed Russian tanks in Donetsk‚ÄĒand very live (if somewhat drunk) Russian soldiers happy to socialize at one of the last caf√©s still open in Lugansk.
‚ÄúYou didn‚Äôt see us here,‚ÄĚ a uniformed officer named Slava tells the reporters as they leave, a bottle of vodka under his arm. And indeed the Russian army regulars in Lugansk operate in the background, leaving locals or imported Russian volunteers to the more visible roles, according to journalists Courtney Weaver and Max Seddon.
Ankara‚Äôs Handling of Syrian War Has Revived Its Own Kurdish Conflict
Turkey‚Äôs promise Monday to let Iraqi Kurdish guerrillas cross its border to defend the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani against the Islamist army of ISIS provides a rare sign of hope for saving Turkey‚Äôs moribund peace process with its own Kurds. Turkey‚Äôs refusal until now to facilitate help for the Syrian Kurds‚Äô fight has ignited riots and communal violence involving Kurds across much of Turkey.
Russia Faces Deadline in Twelve Weeks to Pay Biggest-Ever Arbitration Penalty
Just eighty-seven days before Russia is mandated to pay a $50 billion penalty to the former owners of the Yukos oil company, there is no public sign yet of a settlement in the dispute, raising the chances that courts in Europe and the US will be asked early next year to authorize the seizures of Russian state-owned airliners, ships, real estate or other commercial property. That step would only further embitter the relations between Russia and the West that have hardened this year over Russia‚Äôs invasions of Ukraine.
An Impressive Nordic Defense Initiative Should Invite the Three Baltic Nations to Join
As Russia‚Äôs attacks on Ukraine revive concerns about the security of its northwestern neighbors as well, last month‚Äôs NATO summit conference took two noteworthy steps, among others, to address the Russian danger. For one, the allies authorized a new quick-response force to reassure the Baltic States‚ÄĒEstonia, Latvia, and Lithuania‚ÄĒof the alliance‚Äôs ability to protect them.
Poroshenko's Party Leads; Yatsenyuk Improves Chance of Remaining Prime Minister
On Sunday, Ukrainians will elect their first parliament since the Maidan revolution and the Russian invasions of Crimea and Donbas. Kyiv-based political analyst Brian Mefford, now a nonresident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council, analyzes Ukrainian politics and elections on his website‚Äôs blog. Mefford‚Äôs analysis will feature on New Atlanticist and the Atlantic Council‚Äôs UkraineAlert newsletter, beginning with his reading this week of the prospects for Sunday‚Äôs vote and Ukraine‚Äôs next government.
Mefford‚Äôs key observations this week are these:
Kyiv Says It Fires 39 Officials as Voters Show Frustration Over Continued Corruption
Eight months after Ukrainians forced the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, they will elect a parliament amid rising public anger over the persistence of government corruption under the still-new regime of President Petro Poroshenko. Public discussion about how many new leaders are the same as the old crowd has fueled the wave of attacks in recent weeks in which groups of men have accosted politicians on the street, accused them of graft, and heaved them into street-side trash dumpsters.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk‚Äôs office said it decided yesterday to dismiss thirty-nine officials, including ‚Äúheads of central executive bodies‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúdeputy ministers‚ÄĚ after initial investigations of corruption allegations. That statement, on the Cabinet of Ministries website, also laid out a fourteen-month schedule for anti-corruption investigations of thousands of officials, starting with the top ranks.
Buoyed by Successes in Europe‚Äôs East, Russia's Leader Turns His Gaze to Serbia and Its Neighbors
Russian President Vladimir Putin‚Äôs attack on Ukraine aims to deny that nation a European future, partly by closing the door permanently to membership in NATO or the European Union. Putin‚Äôs aims, however, are not limited to extending a Russian sphere of influence over neighbors with Russian-speaking populations. Southeast Europe also figures in Putin‚Äôs plans to upend the post-Cold War order in Europe.