Can Dilma Rousseff Rebuild Broader Political Alliances for Her Second Term?

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, left, in a 2011 meeting with current Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. (UN Women)

That Is the Path She Should Take, for Herself and for Brazil, Atlantic Council’s Sennes Says

Having barely won re-election in Brazil’s tightest presidential election in a quarter-century, Dilma Rousseff faces several key tasks if she is to govern effectively in her new four-year term, writes the Atlantic Council’s nonresident senior fellow in Brazil, Ricardo Sennes. She must address official corruption—including the broad bribery scandal in Petrobras, the state oil company—and social demands from the growing middle class and the urban poor that were behind the protest movement of June 2013.

Politically, Rousseff must rebuild her relationships with many in her own party and its coalition partners—allies who grew alienated from her during her campaign, Sennes writes in a report for the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. “Dilma, with a history of relationship problems with advisers, Congress, Lula [her protégé, former President Lula Inacio da Silva], the business sector, and social movements, now faces the difficult task of rebuilding the political foundation she inherited from Lula in 2010,” Sennes writes.

Alternatively, Sennes writes, Rousseff could hunker down politically and “insulate herself within an ever-tighter group of supporters” a strategy that “would lead to isolation and dramatic confrontations.”

A positive indicator that she may be avoiding that approach and preferring to rebuild is in her decision to replace Finance Minister Guido Mantega, who has been “heavily criticized for fiscal mismanagement, controlling economic indicators (i.e. inflation) for political cover, and a controversial energy policy,” Sennes writes.

Read Sennes’ full analysis on the Atlantic Council website.