Dilma Rousseff: Guardian of the people outside the gates

November 16, 2014

Sao Paulo (2)

In a tight electoral contest, Dilma Rousseff is re-elected as President of Brazil. She is the candidate of ‘the people outside the gates’

Dilma Rousseff presides over a gated nation. She has been re-elected by a narrow margin as the candidate of those living ‘outside the gates’. Her people’s party , PT, is committed to reducing the inequality gap.

A personal recollection

A personal image. In a side street in the financial centre of São Paulo, a little girl in a smart dark-blue uniform stands behind the security gates of a large house. As we walk past on our way to the University, a limousine pulls up in front of the house. The gates open, and the little girl gets into the back of the limo. As it drives off, the security gates close again. The image has stayed with me. The bustling streets seemed safe, in the early morning rush-hour. Yet Chris, our host, had insisted on meeting his two visitors from England, and escorting us from our hotel to the nearby lecture rooms. We just saw how the people within the gates protect themselves.

Dilma seen as anti-capitalist

The Economist has predictably seen Rousseff’s re-appointment as a rejection of the modernizing and pro-business policies of the defeated candidate Aecio Neves. The campaign was full of sleazy accusations, but arguably was no different to the balanced-free rants that come from America’s television coverage of the last two presidential campaigns.


The Western Press suggests that Rousseff is unable to introduce needed change to deliver economic and social stability. Her broad policy is considered to be shackled by a sympathetic stance to Latin American solidarity against the United States and supporting the strengthening of trade relationships with China.

To be continued

The story is developing rapidly, and will be continued with the Petrobras scandal this week and the mass demonstrations in São Paulo.

Nov 15th 2014

Bloomberg reports 10,000 demonstrate in streets of São Paulo.

Nov 18th 2014

Grace Foster, head of Petrobras commits to major change in the CSR of the state-owned oil company.


September 6, 2013

Leaders We Deserve has always regretted the gender bias in leadership cases. For our one thousandth post, here are ten female leaders in political life who deserve mention

Maybe this the shortest blog post ever in Leaders we deserve, but one pointing to a a serious bias in leadership cases. <a href="Takepart website“>The list of ten political leaders originally appeared on the Take Part web site which supplies excellent images of all ten women. They represent various shades of political opinion, sexual orientation, private and public controversies, education, background, and numbers of assassination attempts survived. Your editor intends to include them in the next edition of the textbook Dilemmas of Leadership.

How many of the leaders can you match with their countries without further web-surfing?

The Leaders:

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Angela Merkel
Dalia Grybauskaite
Dilma Rousseff
Johanna Sigurdardottir
Sheikh Hasina Wajed
Tarja Halonen
Laura Chinchilla
Julia Gillard
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

The Countries:
Costa Rica


Takepart website where you can find images of all ten leaders.

Sean Gardner ‏@2morrowknight for his tweet which alerted me to the site.

Will Dilma Rousseff have creative help in her Brazilian administration?

November 1, 2010

The run-in to the Brazilian elections showed a range of unusual candidates. Will any play a role in the new President’s thinking?


The post was written as the elections began [September 2010]. It adds an unexpected twist to the eventual victory of Dilma Rousseff as successor to her mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Unexpected candidates

In Sao Paulo [September 2010] the students were handing out leaflets in the way students have done in elections around the world. But there are signals suggesting more innovative political initiatives in the build-up to the elections.

Some candidates presented themselves in unexpected and unconventional ways. In the UK we have been familiar with self-publicists such as Screaming Lord Such, founder of the Monster Raving Loonie Party. He appeared in countless General Election Campaigns as did a handful of so-called followers. Such had no real expectation of being elected. It was more like a piece of surreal performance art than that of political leadership. But there was also the mayoral candidate who had been the Monkey mascot for Hartlepool’s football team before running (as the Monkey) for mayor and winning.

Celebrity politicans

There have also been celebrities who have gone on to become successfully elected. Glenda Jackson was a global star who became an effective labour MP. Glamorous pop stars have been successful elsehwere in Europe. Although the biggest celebrity politician of all time in many ways is surely Ronald Reagan, closely followed by Arnie Swartzenegger. These were taken seriously as candidates, as have been the occasional porn-star.

Meanwhile in Brazil political hopefuls of various kinds are appearing in the campaign. Maria Luisa Cavalcanti reported for the BBC that Wacky election candidates reveal problems at heart of Brazil politics

“What does a federal deputy do? Truly, I don’t know. But vote for me and I will find out for you.”

This is one of the political slogans of a man who is expected to enter the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress, in the general election on 3 October with the backing of more than a million voters. If the phrase sounds like some sort of joke, perhaps you will not be surprised to learn that this particular candidate is a professional clown. Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, or Tiririca (Grumpy) as he is known, started working in a circus at the age of eight in the impoverished north-eastern state of Ceara, and is now a TV comedian.

Eliane Cantanhede, political correspondent at Folha de S Paulo newspaper points out that candidates get airtime, attracting less-informed and disaffected voters. The open-list proportional representation system also encourages such candidates.

Just some fun at election time?

David Fleischer, professor of Political Science at the University of Brasilia, explains that the celebrity and the eye-catching candidates are promoted by their parties hoping to get two or three less-voted-for candidates into office.

Is it all just some fun at election time, or an innovation whose time has come as a result of new social media? The messages from President Obama’s campaign are still being studied around the world. Students of leadership might do well to consider the implications of “the Grumpy vote” for political leaders in the future, far beyond Brazil.