Paulo Rabello de Castro, a University of Chicago trained economist and one of Brazil’s wittiest thinkers, has called the country’s October presidential elections a choice between “more of the same” and “the same without more.” This is light years away from the strong emotions presidential elections usually incite in developing countries.
Rabello de Castro’s irony is apt, for it is difficult to say which candidate represents “more of the same”: President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is running for re-election and is the favorite according to the polls, or former Governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, of the PSDB (Brazilian Social Democracy Party, which governed Brazil for eight years before Lula, with Fernando Henrique Cardoso as President). Indeed, the distinction is so difficult that in a recent interview, Cardoso himself said that Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) project is the PSDB’s project. He added: “Perhaps there is not another one. History does not always produce a new project”
Cardoso is right. Except for barely practical political rhetoric from leaders like Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia, there is nothing new on offer in the world’s electoral marketplace that differs very much from what is usually called neo-liberalism or the Washington Consensus. In other words, there is no longer a battle between different projects in any modern country, no left-right confrontation (with their nuances) that might raise voters’ emotions. Here, Brazil is no different than the United Kingdom, Spain or Uruguay.
Indeed, Brazil’s upcoming election this year is like a soccer match between big teams, where supporters of one candidate and the other are solely distinguished by the colors of their shirts, since the strongest teams accept the rules of the game and even tactics are similar.