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President Dilma Rousseff's re-election exposes a divided Brazil

Monday, November 3rd 2014 - 11:14 UTC
Full article 6 comments
“I do not think these elections have cut the country in two,” Rousseff insisted after her win. “I do not think these elections have cut the country in two,” Rousseff insisted after her win.
“The Northeast has always been backward-looking, behind the government, bovine, the lackeys of the power brokers,” journalist Diogo Mainardi said “The Northeast has always been backward-looking, behind the government, bovine, the lackeys of the power brokers,” journalist Diogo Mainardi said

The re-election of President Dilma Rousseff's in Brazil has exposed a deeply divided country with an overwhelming support for the incumbent in the impoverished northeast, where millions receive benefits from huge welfare programs the ruling Workers Party (PT) has rolled out over the past decade.

 The programs have helped lift out of extreme poverty some 40 million people, who formed the bedrock of Rousseff's support and helped to defeat the business world favorite Aecio Neves.

In the south, many of those who backed Neves to end 12 years of PT rule are expressing anger at northern voters, many of them welfare recipients, for Rousseff's narrow win.

The battle between two bitterly opposed camps is still being played out over social media, a week after the election, as everyone from politicians to footballers, journalists and members of divided families cheer and boo Rousseff and Neves as one might a football team.

“I do not think these elections have cut the country in two,” Rousseff insisted after her win.

But frustrated opponents disagree and have set up a Facebook campaign suggesting a wall be built separating Rousseff's northern strongholds from the rest of the country. Northern voters, around 70% of whom backed Rousseff, have responded in kind.

”That's perfect, but we keep samba, because that was born in Bahia (a northern state). And we'll also keep (celebrated northern singers) Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil,“ a contributor to a ”Northeastern manifesto“ posted.

”After such a tough campaign, it is natural such deep-rooted and historic prejudices should emerge,“ said political analyst Andre Cesar.

Anthropologist Roberto DaMatta explained: ”Brazil was a monarchy, an aristocracy with slavery. And the republic essentially came into being more in the northeast than in Rio de Janeiro, where the monarchy was concentrated.“

Many Brazilians in the largely prosperous southeast accuse their northern brethren of closing their eyes to the ruling party's failings, as Rousseff battles a scandal of alleged kickbacks for political allies at state-owned oil giant Petrobras.

Some southerners claim northerners prefer to live off government hand-outs rather than work for a living.

Northerners, many of whom have left their regularly drought-hit home region over the decades to look for work, typically retort ”Go to Miami,“ a preferred bolt hole for their cash-rich cousins.

Rousseff's PT predecessor Lula da Silva was one northerner who headed south. Born into rank poverty in Caetes, in Pernambuco state, he left for Sao Paulo to become first a union leader, then leader of the nation.

Northeasterners make up not just a major source of labor but are also very much part of Brazil's cultural fabric -- hosting the famous Bahia carnival in regional capital Salvador, for example.

”The Northeast has always been backward-looking, behind the government, bovine, the lackeys of the power brokers,“ journalist Diogo Mainardi opined controversially during an edition of broadcaster Globo's television news.

Brazil footballer Hulk, who hails from the northeastern state of Paraiba, blasted Mainardi as arrogant and ignorant.

DaMatta concludes the north-south division leaves Brazil difficult to assess. ”We always choose the path of indecision. This is a society which is capitalist and yet not at the same time. That may be a trend for the 21st century”.

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

Top Comments

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  • ChrisR

    Just like Scotland!

    The northerners are just like the SNP, all me, me, me.

    Dilma HAS to claim the country is united even when it is demonstrably the opposite.

    All the PT has to do now is keep pouring the money into the north and the workers in the south will be forever in harness to the lazy bastards.

    Nov 03rd, 2014 - 11:53 am 0
  • Tik Tok

    If the thieving PT were brought to account (imagine how much money has been siphoned into their pockets) and Government was made efficient/reformed (imagine the savings possible reducing ministries and getting rid of government chronies) then these savings would allow the north east to continue to be supported yet others would feel that Brazil is getting somewhere. Now unless a miracle Brazil looks like 4 years of more mediocrity and further resentment of a party that essentially buys the vote in the north east. In likeliness however is because Brazil is facing such a economic pull back the poor will be the worse for it and may come to realise that the PT are not the saviours they pretend to be.

    Nov 03rd, 2014 - 02:04 pm 0
  • EscoSes 45 Doido

    @2
    I totally agree.

    Nov 03rd, 2014 - 02:50 pm 0
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