Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Rousseff’s Inauguration Promises Continuity for Brazil

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on January 4, 2011

by David Schreiner for Americas Society/Council of the Americas, January 4th, 2011.

The winner by over 12 points in October’s run-off elections, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s hand-picked successor Dilma Rousseff assumed the presidency of Brazilon January 1, becoming her country’s first female head of state. Overcoming a process made difficult due to competition between government coalition partners over cabinet posts, the former Marxist urban guerilla began putting together her new cabinet soon after her win, with final appointments announced December 22. With talk of how far Lula’s shadow will fall over the new administration, Rousseff emphasized that her presidency will continue in Lula’s footsteps, but “with a woman’s face.”

In her inaugural address, the 63-year-old mother of one reiterated her goals for her presidency: Building on Lula’s economic policies, increasing access to healthcare, and continuing to fight poverty. Representatives from 132 countries attended the inauguration, including the presidents of Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Alongside the VIP guests were more than 70,000 Brazilians, there to watch as Lula placed the mantel of the presidency on their new leader’s shoulders.

Rousseff is taking over from a president leaving with an 83 percent approval rating—the highest in Brazil’s history. Lula oversaw eight years of strong economic growth, during which tens of millions of Brazilians rose into the middle class. In an interview with The Washington Post, Rousseff said “there is no question” that Brazil will continue on the path Lula started to economic stability. This was reiterated by outgoing Brazilian Central Bank head Henrique Meirelles in an interview with Financial Times’ beyondbrics blog: “I do not foresee any reason why the Brazilian central bank would change a successful policy framework.” Brazilians appear to support this continuity. A Datafolha survey from early December 2010 found that 83 percent of Brazilians expect Rousseff’s presidency to be as good as or better than her predecessor’s. (continue reading… )

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