See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Brazil: Presidential elections go to second round, social media step in

A last-minute surge by Green Party candidate Marina Silva has pushed Brazil's presidential election into a second round [pt] with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's widely tipped successor, Dilma Rousseff, narrowly missing out [pt] on becoming the country’s first female leader.

Dilma, Lula’s protegee from the Workers’ Party (PT) took 47% of the vote, missing out on the 50% needed to win an outright majority. Silva won 19%, while Rousseff's main rival, José Serra of the Social Democrats, took 32.6%.

Round two, set for 31st October has given Serra a “second chance to debate Brazil's future, present and past”, he told reporters.

Meanwhile, blogging at alternative news site Carta Maior [pt], Emiliano Jose reminded readers that Brazil’s process of democratisation is by no means a simple journey:

É, no entanto, uma revolução inédita no Brasil, e que, levada adiante, pode assegurar a construção de uma nação não só poderosa economicamente, como já o somos, como também, e sobretudo, uma nação justa, que modifique nossas tradicionais estruturas voltadas à concentração de renda e à desigualdade, ainda das maiores do mundo entre nós. Uma nação que democraticamente incorpore em profundidade a presença do povo brasileiro, que pense o desenvolvimento sempre em razão da maioria, e não voltado a atender aos interesses de uma minoria. Por tudo isso, será essencial que nos coloquemos todos em campo, insistindo na importância de levar adiante tal revolução.

It is, however, an unprecedented revolution in Brazil, and that, carried forward, can assure the construction of a nation not only powerful economically, as we already are, but also, and above all, a just nation, that changes our traditional structures geared to the concentration of income and to inequality, still amongst the largest in the world. A nation that democratically incorporates in depth the presence of the Brazilian populace, that thinks development is always a result of the majority, and not inclined to serve the interests of a minority. For all this, it will be essential that we all place ourselves in the field, insisting upon the importance of carrying forward such a revolution.

On the same portal, Emir Sader [pt] added,

É uma ilusão considerar que o segundo turno é outra eleição. É a continuação do primeiro, em novas condições – de bipolarização. A campanha deve ser dirigida diretamente por Lula, deve ser centrada na comparação dos governos do FHC e do Lula, deve ter uma estratégia específica para o eleitorado da Marina e deve multiplicar os comícios e outros atos de massa – um diferencial importante entre as duas candidaturas.

It is an illusion to consider that the second round is another election. It is a continuation of the first – in new conditions – of bi-polarisation. The campaign must be addressed directly by Lula, it has to be centred on the comparisons of the governments of FHC [Fernando Henrique Cardoso] and Lula, it has to have a specific strategy for Marina’s electorate and must multiply the rallies and other acts of the masses – a key differentiation between the two candidates.

The vexed question of the role played by Brazilian mass media [pt], notorious for being heavily concentrated and politically paralleled, was also a topic of debate. Jose affirms,

A mídia hegemônica, outra vez, aquela das três famílias, ou das poucas, reduzidas famílias, fez o que podia e o que não podia para desacreditar Dilma Rousseff, para apresentá-la como uma candidata sem condições, tentando sempre envolvê-la em escândalos.

Hegemonic media, again, that of those three families, or the few, small families, has done what it could and could not do to discredit Dilma Rousseff, to present her as a candidate with no real conditions, and always trying to involve her in scandals.

Last year, one of Brazil's major newspapers, Folha de São Paulocame under fire for publishing an image of a fake criminal record for Rousseff, leading with a story that she was instrumental in the planned kidnapping of former Finance Minister, Antonio Delfim Netto, in 1969. The kidnapping, planned by the far-left guerrilla organisation Dilma was involved with, did not take place, as members of the group were captured just weeks before. Dilma has denied [pt] any involvement in or knowledge of the kidnapping.

According to blogger Eduardo Guimarães [pt], mainstream media outlets led an “accusatory massacre” against Dilma throughout her campaign. He added,

Com essa diferença descomunal de espaço para cada candidato nas grandes mídias, qualquer observador estrangeiro, se não conhecer a fundo a realidade política do Brasil, dirá que Dilma não tem qualquer chance de se eleger. A diferença de condições na disputa com seus dois principais adversários, é enorme. Se já tivéssemos instituições mais independentes do poder econômico, a Justiça eleitoral já teria tirado várias tevês e rádios do ar como punição por fazerem campanha para um lado.

With this monumental difference in the space for each candidate in mainstream media, any foreign observer, if they do not know the background of Brazil's political reality, would say that Dilma would not have any chance of being elected. The difference in conditions in the dispute with her two main rivals is enormous. If we already had more independent institutions of economic power, the Electoral Court would have already taken a number of TV and radio stations off-air as punishment for [illegally] campaigning for one candidate.

Yet, the silver lining came in the form of social media, whose role in bolstering citizen participation in the electoral process and diversifying public debate was unparalleled. This post [pt] from Tiago Doria outlines a host of citizen media initiatives used throughout the elections, including Eleitor 2010 [pt] a Ushahidi-based platform used to map reports of alleged election crimes, and 48h Democracia [pt] which brought netizens’ video, news reports and bulletins of the elections to offer non-mainstream coverage. Such projects, alongside, for instance, a map of electoral censorship published by the Texas-based Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, has succeeded in extending civic participation to a wider community.

Eleitor 2010, an online platform used to map alleged election crimes

Doria says,

Alguns são projetos desenvolvidos por pessoas comuns, que tradicionalmente estariam fora do processo eleitoral ou da produção de notícias relacionadas ao pleito.

Muitos prometem continuar no ar. A grande maioria foi criada como ferramenta de fiscalização, e, justamente por isso, terá sobrevida após as eleições.

Some are projects developed by ordinary people, who traditionally would be away from the electoral process or the production of news related to the elections.
Many promise to continue online. The majority were created as tools of surveillance, and rightly so, they will survive after the elections.

The clip below, taken in Sapopemba, São Paulo, shows illegal electoral propaganda accumulated outside a polling station on election day. Such practices continue, despite the fact that in Brazil it is outlawed to distribute such propaganda after 10pm the day before an election.

It seems the wider realm of discussion boosted by social media has set a new precedent for freedom of expression and has brought into question the role of the press in Brazilian political processes. Carlos Castilho, also writing at Observatorio da Imprensa [pt], says,

Ninguém quer a ditadura de uma única percepção da realidade — portanto, se as empresas jornalísticas desejarem continuar cumprindo o seu papel de provedoras de informação terão que colocar a diversidade informativa como um dos seus objetivos centrais. Isto pode ajudar a anular a percepção de que a imprensa transformou-se num partido político.

No-one wants the dictatorship of one single perception of reality – so, if news organisations want to continue fulfilling their role as providers of information they must place informational diversity as one of their central objectives. This can help to dissolve the perception that the press has become a political party.

Paula Goes and Diego Casaes contributed to this post.

1 comment

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site