Brazil’s Rousseff is widening her lead over environmentalist Silva

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Brazil‘s President Dilma Rousseff widened her lead ahead of Sunday’s presidential election and would defeat environmentalist Marina Silva in an expected runoff vote, pollster Ibope showed late on Tuesday.

Rousseff of the ruling Workers’ Party has 42 percent of voter support in a runoff, while Silva has 38 percent, the Ibope poll showed, according to TV Globo news program Jornal Nacional. In the prior Ibope poll a week ago, Rousseff and Silva were tied at 41 percent.

Brazilians go to the polls on Sunday. If no candidate wins an outright majority, the election will be decided in a runoff between the top two vote-getters on Oct. 26.

In first-round voting, support for Rousseff reached 39 percent, compared with 38 percent a week ago. Support for Silva slipped to 25 percent from 29 percent. Support for Aecio Neves, candidate of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, remained unaltered at 19 percent.

The new Ibope poll surveyed 2,002 respondents nationwide between Sept. 25 and Sept 30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points. It was commissioned by media conglomerate Globo Comunicações and the results were broadcast on TV Globo.

Following are the policy proposals of the two leading candidates:

PRESIDENT DILMA ROUSSEFF 

Social Policy — President Dilma Rousseff said she plans to consolidate and expand the programs that have reduced poverty and income inequality in Brazil over the last decade.

Political Reform — Her Workers’ Party, known as the PT, wants to hold a referendum to approve political reforms aimed at ending gridlock between the government and Congress, reducing the high number of parties and changing campaign finance rules. Her bid to call a referendum last year was swiftly rebuffed by her allies in Congress.

Taxes — Rousseff said tax reform will be a priority in a second term, to simplify taxation and cut red tape. But she most likely would continue with the current piecemeal approach due to the difficulty in negotiating with state and local governments. Her tax breaks policy by sector would continue.

Labor — Rousseff said she sees the need for reform of outdated labor laws to make Brazil more competitive, and is open to more outsourcing on the condition that it is negotiated with unions. The so-called 13th salary – an annual bonus that staff employees receive in Brazil – cannot be touched, though.

Infrastructure — Rousseff vows to speed up concessions in an area where her government has been slow to deliver. Building railways to carry raw materials to ports will be a priority. She says partnerships with private investors, both Brazilian and foreign, will be vital.

Broadband Connectivity — Rousseff’s pet project is universal access to 50 megabyte Internet, similar to what has been achieved in South Korea. She said her government does not seek state control of this project.

Procurement — Rousseff promises a government purchases policy similar to Buy America to stimulate Brazilian industry.

MARINA SILVA 

Economic Policy — Environmentalist Marina Silva plans to restore growth and investor confidence by returning to the basics of fiscal responsibility, inflation targeting and a floating exchange rate, the so-called “tripod” of economic policies that gave Brazil stability after a period of rampant inflation and erratic growth in the 1990s.

Inflation — Her target is to reduce inflation to 4 percent by 2016 and 3 percent by the end of her term at the start of 2019. She has opposed the current’s policy of subsidizing fuel and energy prices to contain inflation.

Taxes and Spending — Her PSB program calls for the removal of taxes on investment and exports, simplification of taxes by unifying duties levied, and the extension of payroll tax cuts to all sectors of the economy. Spending growth will not be allowed to grow faster than GDP.

Petrobras — The PSB would establish a clear formula for raising gasoline prices to help restore the finances of state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.

Central Bank — Silva backs full autonomy of the central bank, though not necessarily requiring its formalization in a law, as her late running mate Eduardo Campos advocated.

 

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